Winter Skills

Winter Skills in the Cairngorms, 25-26 January 2020

A blog post from one of our mountain adventures in the Scottish hills and mountains. A two-day Winter Skills course based in the Cairngorms. Richard Kermode was leading.

Winter Skills in the Cairngorms

Day 1

More strong winds in the weather forecast (a feature of 2020 so far) as we set off into the northern corries of the Cairngorms after our introduction to the winter skills course in a warm cafe in Aviemore. There had been another big thaw through the week, but with an enthusiastic group we made our way up to the snow line and found some excellent conditions for basic movement skills and footwork. We were pretty sheltered too so wind wasn’t a problem in the morning and soon we were enjoying some ice axe arrest training and self belaying before lunch.

A few more slides and we set off for a wee journey to warm up thoroughly before heading down. It was soon into the winds doing some follow the leader and putting the mornings skills into practice. We could see the top of Cairngorm but took another route down into the sunshine and strong winds making for a wild finale to the first day. A quick chat behind the biggest vehicle and we had a plan for day two ready to go.

Day 2

This time it was an early meet at the Cairngorm Ski car park and straight up into Coire Cas in the damp windy weather hoping it would turn to the promised snow and stop us from being soaked. We made it up to some great snow and relative shelter where we had the place to ourselves.

It was time to look at crampons and the snowpack was much firmer than day one so we flew through some techniques and enjoyed a very productive morning exploring the steeper slopes before lunch. It looked like a bright spell was coming so we set off with all our kit as another group appeared and this time we topped out onto point 1141 in the sunshine with great views! The heavy snow showers soon came back and we did some navigation skills on a journey up to Cairngorm in some really wild weather! Everyone was adapting well and we continued our journey over to Ciste Mhearad before enjoying a windy bright descent to the car lark via windy ridge. It was a good day and we chatted about the skills and what to do next over a hot drink in the cafe. A good course with a fun group and the snow is ack for the time being anyway !

More photos by Richard Kermode and some of the participants are here on Flickr.

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