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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Cairngorms - my first winter trip!

This has to have been one of the best, if not the best climbing trip I've been on so far! We set off on Friday night to bivi in the cairngorms ski car park.


The first morning we awoke to quite appalling weather, with winds of 50mph and gusts of 70mph.

It was 5 in the morning, and me and Matt were sat in the car, having had enough of the wind! I'd already tried sleeping in the open glenmore lodge van parked next to us. The, as the winds whistled its tune louder, the doors swung open. In popped the glum looking face of John. "Shit" he said. "good sleep" said Matt. "My fucking therma rest blew away". Matt and John then quickly strode off into the dark, whilst I spent 15 minutes laughing hysterically to myself.

Anyway, after some deliberation, we decided to go for a slightly revised version of our original plan, due to avalanche risk being considerable. We walked up towards the corries, other groups also on their way, battling their way through the weather.

With visibility low, after a while we had to get the map out. John had spent his previous day at work carefully printing and laminating maps of the cairngorms. "Shall I hold your glove?" I asked. "So it doesn't blow away" chuckling to my self. He passed me his glove. He pulled out the map. "SHIT" he shouted. The map blew away down the hill back toward the Aveimore. Off he ran, but he never caught it up!


Eventually we reached the fiacaill ridge, grade two, my first winter route! We soloed the first section, and then simulclimbed the second in two pitches, the second pitch of which I led.


Getting to the top was a superb feeling. My first winter route! Yes! It wasn't over yet though. On the top, visibility was terrible! Anyway, after some impressive navigation from the rest of the team (whilst I stood there and grinned about the fun I was having) we found the way down, back to the car park, and the Italian for food, blacks for a new pair of socks and coop for a daily telegraph to dry my boots out.
John. - Hard man.


The next day we awoke to much better conditions. We walked up to Corie an t'sneachda and split into to teams, Me with Matt and John with Craig. Me and Matt set off up Aladdin's mirror to try the direct. Stupidly, we had decided to leave the ice screws in the car! so we opted for the usual route and then into central gully thought in lean conditions in was grade two.
The second to last pitch was superb!

We descended down the goat track, and then climbed a variation first pitch to red gully which was grade three ice steps. We made it to the top in good time, with a lesson in winter belays and made the decent of the goat track.


I had read how to do self arrest in a book, and it always looked like a fun thing to do. Anyway, when we were going down the goat track, i stupidly decided to shut my eye because of the snow. My sights not brilliant, and in one eye its terrible. I tuck a step, and then, down I went! Whizzing along, I remember what to do. Amazingly, I managed to stop myself after about 30 metres, still holding onto my cadbury's dairy milk.

It was a thrilling end to a brilliant trip. A trip which will remain in my memory for a long long time.

I didn't even get beaten up!