Its great to be back in the Highlands and we seemed to have repeated our pattern almost exactly to last year returning to a good dose of winter upon stepping onto the tarmac at Inverness Airport (which I am voting the best and smoothest airport to go through in the world).
After a quick catch up on sleep and washing we got straight out to try and get a route in and start getting the brain into winter mode. We headed up to Creagan Cha No. A crag I had not visited before but had heard plenty about. It was developed a few years ago and has now got a handy SMC PDF available for it. Its actually a perfect warming up spot with lots of short Northern Corries style routes to go at. It also has a rapid approach from the lower Ciste car park. There was a fair bit of snow on the hill and plenty of people heading up for ski tours and walks and the usual train of people heading into the Northern Corries.
Almost the mirror image of conditions to last year with plenty of snow in the Cairngorms and the west coast hills sub zero but dry of snow, Im hoping that this winter isn’t a mirror image all the way through as things where pretty lean last year with spring happening in February.
Its a great crag with a friendly feel to it. We climbed a route called ‘I am 3’ at IV,5 which seemed about right for the tricky entry moves. Although the crags where frozen I got the impression the large dump of snow probably happened before the ground had frozen completely. It was certainly a shock to the system having been in shorts for the preceding weeks and everything felt all fingers and thumbs getting used to doing things again with numb hands in gloves. If anyone has any tips to reduce the hot aches please email in I got a good dose of them.
A stunning day though with an inversion and a sea of cloud below while we climbed in the sun above.
The following day though things where perhaps back to normal with high winds and lots of windblown snow. All around us slab was forming very quickly and releasing. A small drift we walked through on the way back to the car park did a perfect slide a shooting crack leaving the footpath doing an instant full circle for a about 3 metres squared and just sunk a few inches. This on a larger scale would be lethal. There was a full scale search on the flanks of Macdui with a large avalanche occurring and being phoned in launching a search which as I understand it didn’t have a casualty in it. The SAIS has been operating earlier than the scheduled 15th in the Cairngorms. It looks though as the next few days will be dominated by some high winds and a fluctuating freezing level.
Great to be back and it certainly flicked our minds and excitement into winter, hoping this will be the first of many posts on a great winter season ahead.