Winter Weekend Walk – Cairngorm

The annual winter weekend, 2022.  The weather was booked and the weather came!  In all the years of winter mountaineering the UK, I can not remember a more perfect winter mountaineering day in the UK.  There was blue sky, clear visibility (we could see the Ben from Cairngorm!) and good compact snow. So, we took advantage and took a hike!

The plan was to top out at Ben Macdui but the wind had other ideas, but no-one minded the day was awesome and Ben Macdui will be there another year.  We had a good group from first timers having their first day to winter mountaineering to the good old guys who have more years of winter mountaineering experience than you can imagine and everyone in between and we all came together for a fantastic day.

An early start had us walking the from the ski car park contouring round the base of the Coire’s until we hit a very high snow line to practice some ice axe arresting before the slow and steady climb, head to wind, up the saddle, we put on the crampons at the last rock before a steeper climb fully exposed to the elements, but no one was put off, the thrill of the snow, blue sky and a sunshine motivated everyone to keep on plodding.

The reality of being properly kitted hit us all as someone slid past us with no crampons on, and a thrown away axe, made us all think about the need for correct kit and the need to hold onto out axe at all times.  Undeterred we plodded onwards and upwards against the wind, the sun still shining and we were all smiling to the top of the saddle where the decision to walk along the top of Coire an Lochain and Coire an t-Sneachda rather than head out to Ben Macdui was made due to wind.

Some skiers whizzed down a hill as we plodded along all admiring the view an looking back towards the west coast where Ben Nevis was saying hi. The steady contouring climb took us all the infamous weather station with tales of the past about other visits to the station prevailed, before the best ever and most fun way to descend, took us to glisade all the way to the redundant funicular station, where a discussion took place about the old days when the snow covered the station, they were the days!  The lovely and warm descent to the car park was in front of of us with layers being quickly stripped off as we descended ever further down the slopes as the sun was blazing and making the day memorable forever. 

No matter what the experience on the hill that day, we can all say it has to be one of the best winter days locked into everyone’s memories forever. 

Here's to many more winter weekends.

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