With hogmanay past and the holidays almost over, there was just time for a last outing of the festive season – the Cairngorm Club’s annual January trip to Lochnagar. Approaching we could see small patches of snow, and conditions were cool, but surprisingly still.
The day started out with a light haze and mist lying in the valleys. As we made our way up the tourist path, faint blue struggled to break through.
As we reached the stairs to meikle pap, brief burst of sun projected a fogbow and I thought there’d be a great chance of brocken spectres and perhaps peaking above an inversion as we climbed higher.
As we regrouped at the bealach, some of the party were going to climb a gully, and some to ascend via the ridge to the back right of the lochan, and I headed off with them down to the lochan to try something new on this well-trod hill.
The lochan harboured a blanket of mist as we edged over the boulders.
Dodging the sheets of ice flowing over the rocks, we made it over to the mountain rescue box. There’s a memorial cairn there with a stack of avalanche rods: a reminder of how the snow filled gullies above have a risk of avalanche.
Looking beyond the lochan, there’s a blanket of cloud covering the distant valley floor.
As we make our way round we get a closer look up at the impressive crags. Our two climbers are now specks heading towards a steep runnel of snow know as ‘forsaken gully’
No shortage of ice shapes to carefully negotiate past.
A big lump of cloud begins drifting across the lochan..hopefully only a temporary blip
As we reach the north west corner of the lochan we begin ascending the ridge, it’s not a regular route of ascent so there’s no path there initially, just lots of big mossy boulders
It’s a stiff clamber upwards 300m up in about 600m distance, starting steeper then easing off a bit. The cloud hasn’t cleared but got thicker and we’re enveloped in drizzle, my sealskin handlebar mitts are warm but not the best for clambering on rocks, at least it’s 4ºc instead of the predicted -1. I’m wearing my la sportiva trango evo’s (in expectation of wearing crampons and the odd kicked step) but find the sole rubber a bit slippy, better off with a softer rubber on the damp rocks
The clag obscures what lies up ahead and we false summit a couple times before it flattens out to snow and the top comes into view
The club laid the indicator back in 19.. . Due to weathering, we’d apparently looked at getting a replacement ordered but the company can no longer make this kind of ceramic.
Our route taking a bit longer than the main body of our party, to make up time we put the foot down heading towards the glas allt path.
The burn’s boulders and edges are sparkling with ice curves and crinkles.
An obligatory stop at the falls, brief as the light today isn’t going to create a great shot
Above Loch Muick the other side is barely visible
Passing the royal bothy means there’s only the loch side march to contend with
Back at the Banchory Arms we mingle alongside Aberdeen Hillwalkers who were out for a walk and Christmas meal. Fish and chips, a pint and then tea n scones is today’s replenishment