Thursday 26 January 2023

A short Cairngorms winter walk

A walk in the Cairngorms to celebrate completing my tax return before the end of the month seemed a good idea.Today looked like it might be the best day for a while. Maybe that will be the case - storms are forecast. It wasn't a good day though, unless you were practising navigation like some of the groups I met. 

The cloud was down low. Now I don't mind this if the air is crisp and cold and the clouds shift at least a little. Then it can be mysterious and invigorating. Today wasn't like that. The clag was thick and wet. No visibility really meant no visibility. Blasts of wind brought sleet and icy rain that froze on every surface. The dampness was chilling.

I went up to the Cairngorm Plateau, at first through dark heather and grass with spatterings of old snow then onto iced rocks with a scattering of fresh snow. Higher up steeper patches of old hard snow had me stopping to don crampons and swap a trekking pole for the ice axe. A climber descending said it wasn't nice on the plateau.

He was right. I reached the big cairn at Pt 1141. There are good views of the cliffs of Stob Coire an t-Sneachda, the dome of Cairn Gorm and down Coire Raibert to Beinn Mheadhoin. Not today. Today there was nothing, just snow and rocks rapidly fading into the grey cloud. I stopped for a hot drink and some chocolate, pulling my insulated jacket over my shell jacket as I felt chilly as soon as I stopped. Dry gloves replaced sodden ones. A few parties half-plastered in wet sleet appeared and disappeared, hoods up, ice axes in hand, crampons on boots. 

Continuing didn't appeal. I turned and cramponed back down the ridge. This was enough. Still time in the hills though. I could have still been doing my accounts.


  1. Are those hillsound pros popular in the UK now instead of regular crampons? What kind of boots did you wear on the hike?

    1. I've never seen anyone else with them! They're not easily available. I used them with Treksta G5 boots, which I think are long discontinued.