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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Another cracking day off-piste in the Cairngorms

Another stunning sunny day and another afternoon hike up from the Coire Cas onto the plateau. Despite the effort I really wanted to ski a few of the lines I'd noted from yesterday! I'd timed it just right but even at 2.00 pm was surprised how firm the snow was for walking on compared to a few days ago. 
Once on the plateau I had a few descents down into Coire an t-Sneachda on the most amazing sun softened silky snow near Windy Col. 
Like winter climbing skiing is all about timing to get the ideal snow conditions. A few hours earlier before the sun hit, it would have been icier, a bit later it would be too heavy and likely to sluff. The effort of climbing back up was just about justified for the descents. On my last climb up the heat, snow glare and rapidly softening surface convinced me that twice was more than enough! 
I then skinned over to the top Half a Gully/Point Five to have a look as the Goat Track looked rockier and less appealing. I'd seen some tracks and a few skiers descending the gully and there was a nice safe runout of deep soft snow at the bottom. 
The lower half looked excellent and although the top wasn't as corniced as normal, the start had a few tricky rocks step to negotiate before the main gully. The sun had also just moved off and the surface was starting to get icier. After few tense minutes giving myself a good talking too, I dropped into the gully which was not as full as normal at the top by with plenty of deep soft snow in the middle. The lower half was still in the sun and had lovely untracked pillows of snow.
Once in the main corrie again I was surprised at the amount of soft ice that was developing in all the main climbing lines including the Mirror Direct, Left and R!!!! 
As I traversed below Aladdin's Couloir a few skiers were negotiating the tricky narrow section at the bottom which was looking a lot icier than yesterday with the odd rock to negotiate!
A video of the skiers and few more photos and it was off down Sneachda. A rising traverse took me on good snow into Coire Cas. 
Below the the mid station it was skis off for the last few hundred metres back to the car. All in all a good and totally unexpected late season skiing weekend :-)

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