Ski Mountaineering in the Cairngorms, does it come much better??

There is something very special about skiing to the waters edge, like all the way to the lapping water on the shore. After a very hit and miss season having a huge thaw that saw nearly all of the snow melt. But recently it had recently been dumping for around 7 days, building the base as if it were the start of the season, winds changing direction, fluctuations in temperature but staying cold enough to keep the precipitation falling as snow on the mountains. Then we saw a break in the high winds of late and plenty of snow had been falling with the last 24hrs of wind blowing roughly NW. After a quick look at the map, check the forecasts with the avalanche on considerable for the aspects and altitude we wanted to ski we had to find the right angles, river right of the stream from Corie Raibiert providing the ideal descent with a slope angle of around 22 degrees and with a stunning back drop, what were we waiting for..?


Setting off form the cas car park we decided to head to the cairn at 1141 taking the most direct route to the shoulder we had marked out during our planning phase the evening before, and with the NW winds we were expecting there to be some good snow on the mellow descent of the corie to the shoulder. With whoops and cheers we traversed towards a steeper section that was above 30 degrees keeping high and spaced out to safely arrive at our proposed ski line, the shoulder that would take us all the way to the waters edge of Loch Avon. There had been people skiing down the burn line which had totally filled in, but a classic terrain trap if the steep section slid, not a place you would like to be getting into any troubles.

When the loch came in to view, it reminded me of how lucky we are to stay in such a special place and that for times it has been taken for granted of how lucky we are to be able to make the best of the weather and conditions being only a 30min drive from days like these.

There had obviously been some early birds getting the first turns but we still manged to get a few freshies on the way down, trying to remember how to ski snow that isn't hard and compact! With some big smiles we all met again at the loch side, taking in the situation, standing beside a loch with skis on, white mountains, blue skies and light winds, you would've been forgiven for saying we were in Norway. We noticed that there was skinning track going back up, but with the novelty of being able to ski along the side of the loch we opted to head to the saddle and see what else was on offer. A quick transition and we were on our way, checking what was happening up and left, with some good looking lines but slopes on the steep side for the avalanche forecasts we opted to leave them for another day. As we closed in on 'the saddle' we noticed that no one had skied the line from the col at stac an fharaidh, we decided to skin up but leave the steeper section above. During our transition to ski, 3 people appear above on the steeper section and it was amazing how quickly we felt exposed with a steep, forecasted aspect with three people standing above us. Luckily we were ready to get some fresh lines on some untracked snow, a real pleasure to ski and plenty of cheers and whoops on this run down!





We then opted to head to the saddle and pick an interesting skin back up to get a ski off of the SE east side of Cairngorm, I mean it was just too good not to, so with aching feet we made speedy ascent to get our last run in the backcountry before making our way to the Ptarmagin tow via ciste mhearad and down to grab some last runs down the NE side of the Fiacaill a Choire Chais ridge all the way back to the car park. A very memorable day indeed!




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