Saturday, 21 January 2012

Wild & Woolly in the Cairngorms.

Classic Scottish winter mountaineering!

This weekend I'm working for Glenmore Lodge on a MCoS Student Winter Skills program. This is a great initiative which offers subsidised training to those who have historically been a high risk group. The weather forecast was pretty grim with 100mph gusts forecast for the plateau so we headed up in to Coire Cas to have a look at the basics. The walk in was very pleasant with bursts of sunshine but above us we could see plenty of snow being moved around on very strong westerlies. There is still very little snow in general so we and a number of other teams were all heading for the old neve in the lee of the ridge. The winds significantly increased as we geared up quickly reducing visability to a few meters but the group persevered and through the medium of sign language we were able to look at footwork, step cutting, using crampons, self belay and ice axe arrest. The ski area reported 60mph winds with gusts of 90 and quickly shut for the day. However our biggest challenge was walking back to the carpark, directly into the driving snow. I suspect most of the group will be shopping for goggles tonight! Back at the Lodge for tea and cake we were able to chat through everything that had gone on and assess the effectiveness of their systems and equipment. Tomorrow's looking a wee bit calmer but should still be pretty challenging.

Having a look at the snowpack prior to this evenings avalanche lecture