LMC Winter Skills Meet - Cairngorms 2012

A really enjoyable time was had in February up in the Cairngorms, the weather was a bit mixed but we all got in some good stuff for our first winter climbing trip.

The meet was attended by Andy Key, Pete Mead, Matt Farram, Pip McCarthy with his mate J and myself, with Nigel Berry.


The first day out was spent up in Coire an Lochain, mostly on the big snow slope to the right, where we decorated the mountain side with axe belays, snow bollards and bucket seats galore and trail marks from ice axe arrests could be seen from space. Unfortunately this is where, when tumbling down a snow slope to dynamically test Andy's belay technique and bucket seat, I put my crampon through my water proof trousers. Great start ;-).

Later in the day we moved on to some minor ice climbing adventures and abseils, great fun, apart from the fact the ice was wet and thin, and Pete Mead got to test out the integrity of his climbing helmet (sorry Pete  it was an accident). Time for getting off the hill fast approached so we headed for our base at Craggan bunkhouse.

The second day was Coire an t-Sneachda and a multi team assault of Aladdin's Couloir 180m. The wind was up today, reports of gusts to possibly 70mph. But once we got into the gully we were mainly out of the wind. So this was the first proper winter climb for all of us and under Nige's expert tuition we all made it to the top in one piece. The route was in good nick with a really nice steep ice section in the middle. Teams were Andy and myself, Pip and J, Pete and Matt. At one point I thought we had a rabbit up ahead digging big holes everywhere with lots of ice and snow falling on the rest of us. Turned out to be Nige, he likes to dig and get his gear well in. We topped out mid afternoon into ferocious wind and first out I got took off my feet, reports were correct then!!!!! The walk out was interspersed with some navigational challenges for the youngest member of the team, get us down, don't get us lost. Another good night at the bunkhouse with good grub and night caps all round with tales of our day.


Saturday came and the forecast was for gentle winds in the 80mph region with heavy snowfall predicted. Predictions correct all the way, so a couple of us decided to give that a miss. But those that did go out (Pete, Matt, Andy and Nige) had a thoroughly enjoyable day in Coire an t-Sneachda on the Runnel. Winds severe, spindrift severe, cold and icy with deep snow, so a good day out then?  Pip went and did his own thing up in the Coire and all came back in one piece to tell their tales.

End of a Grand Day Out.jpg

Many, many thanks to Nige Berry for his time, effort and patience in the face of adversity, all those years working with troubled youngsters came in handy ;-)


Dave Barmby

Lucky boy.JPG