The last two days I’ve been based in the Aviemore area working for EICA Ratho. Pamela and Claire, Jacqueline and Paul and I have been looking at some winter mountaineering skills.
The weather has been pretty wild with high winds and a plenty of new snow above about 600m, with rain below that today. The Cairngorm ski road was closed today and yesterday. Claire, Jacqueline and Paul did a great job of coping with the conditions and managed to keep smiling throughout.
On Saturday we chose to stay beneath the worst of the weather and climbed Creag Dhubh (756m) near Newtonmore. This worked well and we were able to use a sheltered crag to look at using crampons on rock and frozen turf; use of an ice axe and also take in the summit. The snow at this level on the hill was all soft, with no real old snow around and only limited accumulations of fresh snow even on the North side of the hill.
Today we headed up to the area between Geal-charn and A’Mharconaich off Drumochter. Here we found some snow to look at boot work, ice axe arrest and some snow anchors, including abseiling off a snow bollard. Even the scoured snow we came across today was relatively soft. There was snow fall on and off all day on strong Southerly/South-Westerly winds and just the odd break in the clouds. Sheltered areas were building large accumulations of fresh and wind blown snow.