Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cairngorms - CPD

Jim has just dropped me off at Glasgow airport, on his way back to Sheffield. We've been up in Aviemore, Scotland staying in a Mountain Lodge with 16 other folk all keen to get involved in some winter adventures! 

 Sgor an Lochain Uaine Summit (The Angels Peak) photo by Jim Gayler

Organised by the mighty Steve Parry, these much anticipated trips have previously involved copious amounts of snow, ice and suffering... This week was similar, except there was a distinct absence of snow and ice!!

Looking back to Angel's Peak

I flew over direct to Glasgow from the Isle of Man with Citywing on the Thursday. Jim picked me up from the airport and we enjoyed an easy drive up to Perth where a Premier Inn took care of our immediate victualling requirements : )

Having just launched our brand new website, there was a little bit of SEO work to be taken care of before setting off next morning... Jim is a very patient man!

Given the lack of winter conditions apparent before departure, we'd all agreed to bring summer climbing, biking and running gear (in addition to our winter kit) to make best use of our time.
Lashing rain (and warm temperatures) made the decision to head straight to Aviemore (instead of mountain day on Ben Nevis) and check into our Chalet.
Then it was an afternoon run in the Cairngorms to check out Coire en t-Sneachda and Cairngorm, regular close encounters with Grouse, then back to the car park as visibility reduced to nil : )

 'Dry Tooling' in Newtyle Quarry

Newtyle Quarry was the focus of the next day, with Simon. Keri and Steve joined us on their way, and some strenuous 'Dry Tooling' commenced. (Ascending rock wearing crampons and using ice axes). An interesting training exercise, and a different way to spend a Saturday.

Sunday promised to be the best of the week, so a small team of us headed up to the Sugarbowl car park early, mostly dressing in light running gear with minimal kit. With short daylight hours, our route was to head into the lesser trodden areas of the Cairngorms...
Up the Valley through the Chalamain Pass, following Lairig Ghru and keeping Ben Macdui to the East, and contouring around below Coire Bhrochain to the Bothy. Flocks of snow white Ptarmigans en-route.

A spot of lunch at Garbh Coire Bothy

A spectacular desolate valley, overlooked by a serious looking range of peaks, stunning!

Dissecting the range, we scrambled up Sgor an Lochain Uaine, viewing the impressive Falls of Dee, and ran around the ridge, blown away by the views, yet realising we had a race against darkness to also consider : )

 Keri and Emma - view from Braeriach 

We drank our fill from the Wells of Dee (the river source) just below Einich Cairn, had some sensational photo action at Braeriach, before the joyous run down along the ridge line to join the Lairig Ghru valley, and through Chalamain Pass in the last light of the day. Passing the grazing Reindeers and arriving back at the car park in darkness, feeling exhilarated and spent!

Following advice from local guide Ian (and the use of his guidebook), our climbing team arrived at Moy Rock (Dingwall) just North of Inverness, for summer climbing on conglomerate 'rock'.

With bolted routes, and dry (if a little chilly) conditions, it was the perfect training venue for December : )
Sustained climbing, warming up on 6a graded routes, guaranteed a challenging day ahead, finishing with the satisfaction of completely spent muscles and new experiences on unfamiliar rock.

'Holly Tree Grove'
'Fighting off the Vultures'
'Ravens Nest'
'Little Teaser'

As the predicted high wind arrived overnight, Jim, Steve and me chose to head to the same crag next day and get a bit more of the unique climbing opportunities it offered.

Straight onto harder routes, my boy arms soon caved on, so I got to observe Steve and Jim take on a few more climbs, as the tress swayed vigorously above giving the impression of threatening to sweep the climber from the rock... 
Another terrific day on the Crag with inspirational people!

Some necessary shopping and our turn to cook for the house was on the menu for Wednesday, using the afternoon to conjure up the signature chicken lasagne (and a vegetarian one), rounded off with Christmas pud : )
We even managed to squeeze in an glass or two of mulled wine at The Old Bridge Inn.

Driving back through heavy snowfall on our way to the airport today, it seems as if winter may once again be hitting the Cairngorms!

Thank to everyone for another memorable week of adventure, festive fun and new experiences!
Catch you soon

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