>Ski Mountaineering in the Cairngorms

>Another awesome weekend!

Friday night saw Keith, Steph and myself heading up Braemar, our plan to do a 2-day tour of one of the quieter corners of the Cairngorms. The snow started just beyond Blairgowrie and 400 yards from the summit of the Glenshee ski centre, keiths van lost all traction. Some spirited driving, reversing back and forth on our tracks and the weight of Steph and I sat over the back wheels eventually gave us enough momentum to reach the top of the pass and we arrived in Braemar shortly before 2am.

Spent the night in the comfort of Keiths VW transporter and awoke to a fresh cover of snow, the wind swirling around and everything feeling somewhat arctic. With no idea what the road conditions would be like towards the Linn of Dee we took the option to ski from Braemar. Our aim was to reach Derry Lodge and then ascend one of the smattering of Munro’s to the north.

Skinning along the road was not overly interesting although we did get acosted by some local photographer keen to get some pictures for Aberdeen’s local newspaper!

We left the road at Mar Lodge, ascending deep snow en route to Derry Lodge. The weather was mixed, heavy snow showers and a biting northerly wind.

We arrived at Bob Scott’s Bothy later that afternoon, there were already some keen Bothy types already in residence, the only good part to this being that there was a roaring fire. A somewhat sleepless night ensued as we kept ourselves to ourselves and everyone else drank more Tenants than was sensible. But the night itself was magical, a near full moon lit up the Arctic-like wilderness.

We woke to crystal clear skies, light winds and a beautiful dawn glow on the slopes of Derry Cairngorm, the air temperature was cold, not sure how cold, but well below freezing! We opted for an ascent of Beinn Bhreac, a solitary mountain nestling between Derry Cairngorm and Beinn A Bhuird.

Skinned up out of the valley floor for about an hour before turning north towards Beinn Bhreac itself. Just south the main summit, we dumped our packs and took minimal kit with us to reach the summit, it was a little scoured in places and we carried the ski’s for a short while before making a ski descent back towards the col.

Only a few hundred metres but genuinely some of the nicest snow I’ve skied on and all the better for it being in the Cairngorms – putting fresh tracks down when Glenshee and every other ski centre is sold out is very refreshing.

From there it was a mixture of skinning and a little more ski descent back towards Glen Lui. All that was left was for keith to hitch a lift back to Braemar to pick up the van whilst we sat and soaked up the winter chill at Linn of Dee.


About Richard Talbot

An accomplished fell-runner as well as being a keen climber and mountaineer. Since 2005 he has worked for the UK based manufacturer Mountain Equipment and is currently Director of Product. He has worked in the outdoor industry for over 15 years.
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