This year’s igloo trip with members of the Inverness Backcountry Snowsports Club took place last weekend. Rather than some of the remoter places we’ve been to in the past this time we headed for Coire Laogh Mor on the north side of Cairn Gorm. Easy access meant that more people came along and eight of us set off on a cold windy day – though only six were planning on staying in the igloos. The snow was soft and broken with much vegetation showing through. Most people were on skis but for once I wasn’t as I had a pair of snowshoes to test (you can read my review here).
As we climbed into the corrie we spotted a big rock on the far side that looked like it had a large wind scoop round it, which meant deep snow. The weather being somewhat unkind with low cloud over the tops and gusts of strong winds blasting spindrift across the mountainsides we hoped to find a suitable site with deep snow not too high up and this looked like it could be it. It was.
Only two of us had built igloos with the IceBox tool before so there was some learning to do and some trial and error in the building that meant it was after dark before the two igloos were completed. The weather didn’t clear and there was little in the way of views. Watching spirals of spindrift whirling across the snow and blowing high into the air was entertaining though. Less fun was when the spindrift clouds hit us, sometimes with a wind so strong that all you could do was brace yourself against it and turn your head away with a gloved hand protecting your cheek from the stinging snow.
These conditions were ideal for showing just how comfortable igloos are – once inside all was calm and quiet and secure. Brewing up, eating, talking, relaxing and then sleep. Come morning and a slow breakfast with more brews. Outside the wind drove on, stronger than before. The clouds had risen a little and we could see across Glen More to Meall a’Bhuachaille but the high mountains were still hidden.
The skiers set off upwards, hoping for improving weather. It didn’t happen and they didn’t go far. This wasn’t a day for the tops.
I dug my gear out of the spindrift. I’d left my pack, shovel, IceBox, snowshoes and poles in the wind scoop – there wasn’t really room for them in the igloo and I didn’t need them inside anyway – and the spindrift had poured into it and buried them completely. I did pack up inside the igloo though before donning my snowshoes and heading back down after a successful trip. We’re hoping to do another one in a month or so. Perhaps then it will be sunny and less windy. Perhaps.