Cairngorms

Cairngorm Soleil et Neige

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Conditions are shaping up well on the mainland at the moment for Scottish Winter fun, and today Wally was working in the Cairngorms with Alban and HΓ©lene from France who wanted to enjoy their first winter mountain experience in Scotland!

The team headed in to Coire an t-Sneachda and took a meandering line to find snow for step kicking, cutting and some ice axe arrest practice, before heading up on to the Fiacaill Coire Cas for an ascent of Cairngorm.

The weather was glorious, but they took the opportunity to practice some navigation anyway. There were occasional expansive views and a rapidly changing cloud and skyscape providing an atmospheric backdrop to the day.

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Cairngorms D of E

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Lucy: Here are some pics from a great gold expedition in the Cairngorms working for Mary Erskine School in Edinburgh.  This is one of my favourite, regular bits of work as the school has a strong ethos of hillwalking and outdoor activities, and the girls are very motivated.

On Saturday, I was supervising remotely in the Lairg Ghru.  It's a fabulous walk, and I never tire of it. We had perfect weather, cool, breezy and sunny, with no sign of the dreaded midge untill we got in to camp at Luibeg.

The following day, I shadowed a team as they headed up over Ben Macdui. This is a big challenge for a DofE exped, but one that the girls tackled with enthusiasm.  It was very cold and windy on top, but fortunately the visibility was perfect and the navigation presented them with no problems.

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On the third day, myself and another member of staff shadowed a team over Beinn a Bhuird. These girls were awesome navigators, which was just as well as the visibility was shocking.  In these conditions, supervision is necessarily a lot less remote, but I was happy to observe and let them get on with it! Easy life!

Meawhile, Wally was out in the Arran hills with clients, leading over Stacach and Goatfell. He didn't take any pictures, (doh) but it sounds like they enjoyed themselves with a fine ridge walk and some amazing views.

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Sociable climbing on the Mess of Pottage

A personal day climbing out east for us today, which paid off with a fun outing on the Mess of Pottage in Coire an t-Sneachda in the Northern Cairngorms. We approached the Coire with fairly open objectives but it quickly became clear that the most straightforward option with the snow (esp cornice) conditions would be a climb on the Mess of Pottage. We headed for Hidden Chimney, a superb route that we have done before and knew would be good value. However, the route was busy with several parties and a with a bit of a bottleneck developing in the chimney we headed out right on to mixed ground. A series of steep litte steps and grooves at about grade II/III (a wandering line that we think is the harder variation Jacob's Edge?), brought us to the summit in good time.

Snow was lying deep on the easier angled terrain on the route, and there was no ice to speak of.  Happily there was lots of gear to be found to protect the steep sections.