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Saturday, 30 December 2017

An alpine start to beat the weather

With the weather being forecast to deteriorate markedly at midday Saturday it was now or never to get in one last winter climb done for 2017.

The MWIS forecast mentioned Cairngorm Mountain being covered in mist and cloud with a dramatic increase in wind speed, rise in temperature and fresh wet snow by late morning. However the Met Office, sounded a bit more favourable and had the weather change happening by late afternoon.

We'd decided that an early start and finish was required and were amply rewarded by frosty calm conditions and sparkling skies above Cairngorm as we headed up the hill by head-torch at 7.00 am, but would it last!

With the alpine start we headed up in the dark to the lee of Cairngorm. We reached the mountain shoulder just at sunrise we were be greeted by the golden sun rays on sparking snow, and a minimal cornice and rock hard neve.

As normal we checked out the cornice and avalanche risk on our proposed route before climbing but this time by abseil.

It was a bit slabby at the small cornice but after three abseils down a gully line on lightly covered old snow ice, we were good to go back up. We enjoyed excellent mixed climbing conditions as we climbed and just taking extra care as we reached the last few metres at the cornice.

We finished the climb and reached the summit again just after noon before using our ski passes to head back down, saving the knees, as the winds increased and clouds rolled in.

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A great day and good end to 2017.

Happy New Year

Ron and Fi

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