Cairngorm Dander

Having had a couple of plans to get out this weekend with people not come to fruition and with a requirement for an early finish I decided to head out for a bit of a solo dander in the Cairngorms today. A pre-dawn start saw me soloing Central Gully in Coire an t-Sneachda by headtorch. The down side of the early start was that I couldn’t see whether the gully was complete and there’s currently a tricky step to get past a chockstone in the narrow section of the gully. It’s worth noting that this step will probably be being hidden by new fresh soft snow as will the mini-bergschrund I crossed to get in to the gully. It had started snowing earlier than predicted on the southerly wind so I hopped out of the gully to the right near the top to avoid deep soft new snow in the top bowl. It continued to snow lightly, but steadily for circa 6 hours whilst I was out.

I then dropped down Coire Domhain and climbed Pinnacle Gully on the right hand side of Shelterstone Crag. Again new snow was building in the gully, but hugging the left hand wall meant the route could be climbed on very firm old snow and the odd mixed step.

A partial bergschrund in the scoured Narrow Gully

Coire Sputan Dearg was the next objective, so I headed over Carn Etchachan and on to the wee lochan located near the top of Glissade Gully. The scoured gully gave an excellent descent in to the coire on hard old snow and I reascended via Narrow Gully. Coire Sputan Dearg was in excellent condition with a fair amount of old snow having survived the thaw, the gullies being pretty well scoured following the southerly wind and the crags being well rimed for the same reason.

I returned via the lochan at the head of the Feith Bhuide , over the top of Coire an t-Sneachda and down over pt.1141m.

Fiacaill Ridge/Buttress and climbers emerging from routes in Coire an t-Sneachda

All old snow encountered was very firm and giving first time placements. All turf at crag height was very well frozen, which bodes well with fresh snow falling on the frozen ground. There’s some ice forming, but a fair few burns are still running and require care crossing where fresh new snow is hiding them. The winds have been relatively light so the fresh snow that’s accumulating is generally soft, but there are significant new accumulations forming on north and east facing aspects.

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