Friday, 25 November 2016

Fannaichs Video

Here is a short clip from last week's journey in the Fannaichs. This is taken approaching the summit of the Munro Sgurr nan Clach Geala 1093m, the finest of the peaks of the Fannaichs. The weather has remained cold since then (minus 12 deg C overnight last night!) and conditions for winter walking and mixed climbing are looking good. Plenty of people out on ski as well, though I would keep the speed down-----there is no real base to the snowpack yet and plenty of rocks to catch you out. Even the resorts such as Cairngorm Mountain are opening for piste skiing this weekend. A great start to the Winter!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

A wee jaunt to the Fannaichs, NW Highlands

Over the last few days or so we have had a settled, consistently cold spell of weather, with temperatures in the Glens dropping to well below freezing each night. This has been accompanied by some lovely long spells of sunshine, and that rarity: light winds. Keen to make the most of this I had a cracking day out on the Fannaichs, in the North-West Highlands.  Waking at 6am to a clear, starlit sky, and a frost on the car so heavy that opening the door was difficult, the omens were good. What followed was hard work physically, ploughing through calf deep snow for much of the day but with magical views. Tendrils of cloud flouted around the summits as I went traversed the three Munros of Meall a' Chrasgaidh, Sgurr nan Clach Geala and Sgurr nan Each, before plodding back down next to the Allt Breabaig to reach the car just after dusk. Magical

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Student safety

Slightly belated write up of a day out last weekend working as a volunteer instructor for Mountaineering Scotland (MCofS) at Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms. This was the annual Student Safety weekend, where lots of students from Scottish university climbing and hillwalking clubs get the chance of a heavily subsidised weekend of mountain skills. I was helping run the Mountain Skills day, and had students from Dundee and Edinburgh in my group. We spent a couple of hours learning/refreshing the basics of map and compass work---taking a bearing off the map, sighting and following a bearing, before adding in some pacing and timing. It was then off onto the hill to do it for real, with everyone showing they had a good grasp of the skills.  We were below the freezing line so although we had some wintry showers, nothing was settling for long at our altitude. Higher up snow was accumulating quickly from the looks of things, with some beefy showers being pumped in on a cold Northerly.  We then headed down, chatted through what equipment to take as a group on Scotland's hills, and practised what to do in case of an accident. This weekend is a great resource for Scotland's university clubs, and it was a pleasure to help out and pass on some skills.

Winter is here!

Over the last week winter has arrived with a bang in the Scottish hills. The first outing in winter is always a bit of a shock to the system, as you remember how to stay warm, comfortable and deal with all the extra paraphernalia that winter brings with it! I had fantastic day yesterday in the Caingorms fighting my way up Bynack More 1090m in strengthening winds, poor visibility and wind-blown snow. Fantastic! From the summit some compass work and pacing was required to locate the Barns of Bynack (massive granite tors) which provided some shelter before descending via Bynack Beg and back to Strathnethy. hard going in the early-season conditions; although some snow is consolidating, much is unconsolidated on no base, or worse---breakable crust! Follow the link to a wee video that gives some idea of the conditions on the hill.