6th March 2008

When planning the Team Training and Exercise List for 2008, we had originally hoped to go to Norway for a week’s winter training about this time of year. For various reasons, this didn’t happen, but as a precursor to a foreign trip in 2009, we decided to organise a week in Scotland, based in the Aviemore/Newtonmore area, allowing us an opportunity to hone up winter skills on a reasonable snow base. As the planning took shape, it emerged that this particular week butted onto the end of the Winter Mountain Leader training course, attended by Mick, Donald and me. The plan was that the three of us would use this as good consolidation following our attendance at the course. Sunday saw us meeting at the Coire Cas Car Park at Cairngorm and splitting into two groups we made our way onto the hill. A number of the “Eastenders” had elected to exercise using the stretcher in Coire Cas, practising their snow anchoring skills. The rest of us headed into Coire an Sneachda en route to the plateau. Making our way into the Coire, we gained the plateau either by way of the Goat Track or Fiacaill Buttress and regrouped at the top of 0.5 Gulley. The weather was certainly clearer than the past week and the views were now opening out to the surrounding hills.

Setting up belays at the top of the gulley and lowering some of the guys over the edge ensured that our techniques were up to scratch; a good opportunity for us to pass on our hints and tips from the Winter ML course.

Belaying finished, and with the weather closing in, the group further split into two for some practice navigation over to Coires Domhain and Raibeirt and then back to the vehicles for the end of the day.

Monday saw me take a day off, going back to work for the day, for a rest!! Seven consecutive days on the hills were beginning to tell. Meanwhile the others had an epic day on Creag Meagaidh.

Back to the bunkhouse at Newtonmore on Monday evening for a day out on the Laggan hills the following day. The weather had improved significantly and we decided to head for Creag Pitridh and Geal Charn to the south of Loch Laggan. The pain of a 5km walk in and back was eased significantly when we were given permission to take the Land Rover up the approach track! Spying a lone hillwalker walking up the track in front of us, we slowed down alongside and asked whether he was purist enough to turn down the offer of a lift. His bag was in the back of the vehicle almost immediately as he climbed in beside us..

The ridge up Creag Pitridh was exposed to a bitterly cold wind, but the surrounding views were worth taking in. On to Geal Charn and back down the track to the Land Rover and the end of a good day out.
The view from Geal Charn is shown below.

View the high resolution panorama

And if you’re interested in knowing the names of the hills we were admiring, then I’ve annotated these on the image above .

View the high resolution panorama