Author Topic: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm  (Read 3718 times)


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pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« on: 11:19:07, 11/12/11 »
After a drive through blizzards, then under clear skies lit up by a full moon, I finally arrived at the cairngorms to be greeted by a traffic jam. Not a traffic jam as southerners experience around London on the largest toll free car park in Europe but more of a wait for the hard working park staff to clear the roads. Did not have to wait long before our line of cars slide and slided up the steep road leaving a few stragglers along the way until we all parked in a nice long line beside the ski centre underneath the glow of sunrise with the bright moon hovering over Aviemore, both it and the sun starting to cast the grey oranges over the skies cloud.
Next is the enjoyable spectacle of every one getting ready for their respective activities, most being the climbers with sacks full of spikes, rope and assortment of other things? It is the looks on their faces that get me, from the all out prettified and excited being led by the experienced stern guides to the benign twosomes who are just out on a lads or lassies trip onto the crags. Given the severity of the weather around these mountains in winter, I guess I always end up wishing as I did today I headed up the track to the top restaurant. That I don’t hear on the 6 o’clock news that night that one of these people perhaps died on the mountain that day – it happened once before and it wasn’t nice! So if you ever find yourself lucky enough to venture into this wonder land – makes sure you know what the hell you’re doing first, or have someone who does.
The trip today was up to the top restaurant via the well-compacted track, and then follows the ridge along over Cairn Gorm summit, Stob coire an t-Sneachda and Cairn Lochan before descending down the Miadan ridge, back to the car park. All in all about 7 miles I guess with about 700m climbing.
Using the compacted wide track to get upto the first Munros, could be seen as a sort of cheat, but as normal at the beginning of the snow season, the only tracks that are really compacted are those to the t-Sneachda corrie where most climbers go. Half way up this track, a nice path heads off to, or up the Fiacaill a Choire Chais ridge. But it was still covered in thick snow when I passed it. I had planned to get to the top to see the sunrise, but due to the access road being closed as the workers cleared it I only got to see the oranges and bright radiant colours descend upon corries and the monoaliaths as I  clambered up within the confines of coire cas. Even so, it was still a great show to see from my elevated position.
As I got to the top restaurant, these sunrise colors were fading slightly but were still made the mountains below me sparkle under their coverings of snow. What was amazing was the amount of workers up here who had obviously been here for quite awhile and in nearer -9 temperatures or less from the brisk wind – gotta be thankful for them and the poles they installed which lined the path upto cairn gorm summit or else I wouldn’t of know today where it was.
You’d think I must be mad to want to stand upon cairn gorm which only the day before was experiencing 150 mile winds, thankfully today these winds were a lot less. So much so that I could quite comfortably stand on the shelter side of the weather station while texting my wife to say all was OK, while waiting for the thick mist that covered the scene of the plateau before me lifted. It did lift after about 20 minutes; the same time it took me to text (still can’t get to grips with this stuff).
The scene that opened up before me of near enough 360 degrees is just indescribable as befits the awe and wonder that I felt. Many a time I have stood here and never seen the cairngorms fully, but today I did. Today I could look out around me over miles and miles of peaks and ridges as clouds swirled and danced amidst ridges and peaks over deep snow that covered these hills as a dustsheet would an old antique sports car. I.e. you cannot see the detail but just enough of its graceful curves and sensual folds to leave you tantalizing for more.
Today I was here alone, and alone I felt amidst the plateaus illusion of endless space, her size and bottomless beauty. My face glowed red from the cold wind, my face felt cold and numb from the cold wind and my body was pushed and shoved by the cold wind, but quite frankly there was nowhere else I’d rather be at that time then atop these mountains of age and history.
Alas, all things must end and it soon came to the time when I clambered down over ice-covered rocks towards the t-Sneachda ridge where I could see two people having already done their climb start back towards the Fiacaill a Choire Chais ridge. It always amazes me how the view of this plateau changes from one vantage point to another. You’d think that after awhile it would all look the same especially under a coating of snow, but thankfully it is not like that helped greatly by the sun as its frail light shone through the clouds to my east . This made those clouds beyond Ben macdui a nice orange glow making its peak and those above Glen Avon stand out much more than, if the cloud had been as white as the hills. Occasionally the sun would appear and dash the dark cliffs of the t-Sneachda slopes with a tone of faded orange plus the high clouds that spread above further mountains like a colourful fan – great for photos giving the impression of leading the eye to the centre.
By the time I got to the end of the ridge, the sun had come out of its hiding place fully covering most of the mountains in my view with a sharp light that reflected off of all their curves and sways of movement which did make some of them look more like waves of a sea rather than the intersection of multiple ridges and peaks. Thinking back now, I do not remember looking for any particular peaks in the distance, like Ben alder only thinking how great it was to be there. I know the forecast had only stated a 40 % chance of clear Munros and had not really expected to see the extent to which was portrayed in front of me. It could have quite readily been different but I thought after numerous times when all I had seen is thick cloud over this plateau, I thought perseverance had at last paid off and yet again left the plateau by the easy slope of the Miadan ridge a happy man for once.

the traffic jam

looking down onto ski centre

taken just to the left of the top restourant

the top restourant (it ptoabably has got a proper name - I just don't know it. apparently they are out of tennets and only have salt and vinager left - got plenty of baby cham.

me by the weather station taken by the grey man who'ed wonder over here due to their being a lack of visitor to macdui - he was quite annoyed when instead of running off, I merely shoved the camera at him!

looking at fiacaill ridge

photo of reverse view from that above

looking back along the ridge to cairn gorm


looking towards monaliaths

Posted these pans in another thred but just thought they'ed be handy being here as well components/cairn1012/pan from cairn gorm summit.jpg - from loch avon to the climbing crags components/cairn1012/pan from cairn lochan.jpg - from ben macdui to end of lairig ghru components/cairn1012/pan frommiadan creag towards loch morlich.jpg - overlooking loch morlich to entrence to climbing crags

« Last Edit: 11:37:35, 11/12/11 by troy »
Last night while I laid starring at the stars, I wondered.....where the hell is my ceiling!!!!


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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #1 on: 12:19:59, 11/12/11 »
Phew thos e pics higher up looking out over the masses of mountains are staggering! Thanks for posting these. Snow make smountains even more photogenic don t it! Did you do the whole walk without gloves too?  O0   Keep em comin!
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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #2 on: 12:29:16, 11/12/11 »
I'm fond of a 'sensual fold' or two myself.
More of this, please!
solvitur ambulando


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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #3 on: 14:50:53, 11/12/11 »
Brilliant  O0 we had a look round that area a couple of years back. Had a short walk from the ski lift centre in similar snowy weather. a great memory jerker O0


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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #4 on: 16:15:56, 11/12/11 »
Am loving the last photo  O0 O0
Catbells, a truly lovely walk

angry climber

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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #5 on: 17:35:20, 11/12/11 »
Fantastic pics and a well written report. You make me extremely jealous. I was working the last two weekends so I have not been able to enjoy any of the snow yet. You are very lucky. Thanks for sharing this and stirring up some fantastic memories.

Thanks Graeme.
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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #6 on: 18:00:14, 11/12/11 »
Wow, thanks for that Troy, really inspirational! great pics and lovely report  O0
take it easy...but take it

Alex Quinn

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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #7 on: 18:04:24, 11/12/11 »
Excellent TR and photographs O0


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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #8 on: 18:26:13, 11/12/11 »
Wow. :coolsmiley:
Great photos and fantastic TR.     O0
Wish I was there.
BTW, the restaurant is called the Ptarmigan. after the bird which is supposed to frequent the Cairngorms. I believe it is just a few feet lower than the Snowdon Cafe, hence why they can't call it Britains highest.


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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #9 on: 21:11:13, 11/12/11 »
Superbly magnificent.  TR's from your good-self have become a forum highlight for me Troy....thankyou.
Matt O0


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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #10 on: 21:57:48, 11/12/11 »
Great report Troy, fantastic pics  O0 O0 O0

I've got a week booked in February can't wait !
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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #11 on: 22:27:56, 11/12/11 »
Great TR and photos - love the shots of the weather station and frosted ski lift  - was there earlier this year and it was very cold and icy up at the station, saw ptarmigan, just losing their white feathers... and snow buntings - dramatic place and hats off to you going up there when the winds were up to 165mph around the Caingorms, or so they said :o :o
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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #12 on: 00:04:25, 12/12/11 »
Stunning pics Troy, and a nice TR too - cheers!
roll on the weekend


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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #13 on: 07:40:15, 12/12/11 »
Excellent, thanks for posting  O0
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Re: pure paradise - snow covered tops of cairngorm
« Reply #14 on: 18:50:05, 12/12/11 »
Bring on the snow, the weather station looks awesome.  O0
Expect the best, prepare for the worst.