A week in the Cairngorms with Gertrude

A great week based out of Badaguish in the Cairngorms. The first half of the week we had a group from ELWorks, the second half a group of Hillend trained skiers from Musselburgh Grammar School. The aims for both groups was to inspire young people with an adventurous experience, help grow their confidence and develop their outdoor skills.

We kitted up with Winter skills gear and drove up to the lower Cairngorm car-park at Corrie Ciste with the intention of finding some snow to look at using ice-axe, crampon and dig a snow-hole. IMG_0579

Unfortunately the start of storm Gertrude had different ideas. Torrential rain, high winds. So we headed round rather than up and descended down to Ryvoan bothy for some rest from the weather.


A really really really really really windy day up from the Sugarbowl car-park with the intention of heading up to the Chalamaine gap …. again Gertrude had different ideas and after being blown about for less than an hour we had to retreat. A top afternoon spent back at Badaguish honing our slack-line-skills.



Between groups, and in preparation for the ski group arriving, we headed round to Glen Feshie to recce the slopes for a ski tour on the Thursday. Weather-wise probably the best day of the week – but the hills still very green and lacking in snow. We walked then skinned up onto Carn ban Mor, skinned south to the unnamed top and looked to find some decent snow for the decent.


Unfortunately the visibility dropped and the descent was ‘adventures in heather’ with only about a total of a hundred meters of quality snow.  Walked to the bus and drove back round to meet the Musselburgh Grammar group who had arrived at Badaguish. Consensus was that for a group too much walking not enough snow to return on Thursday.

Our hopes were raised with a bit of fresh snow so we kitted up with ski touring kit and drove up to the Cairngorm top car-park. Our plan was to head across the front of the corries with the hope of joining up some of the remaining old snow patches in Lurchers Gully .


We spilt into two groups and skinned at first then walked round the front of as far as the Sneachda burn … un-crossable! A detour up the river and across to the bottom of Fiacille of Sneachda got us onto some decent snow to practice uphill kick turns and even a bit of downhill!  Conditions deteriorated though , so after all of the group had been blown over at least once we headed home. Great day out though, some quality Scottish winter ski-touring experienced, and survived.

Storm Gertrude arrived in earnest. The windiest you can really function walking before you’re blown over is probably 60 or 70mph. That day the top wind-speed recorded on Cairngorm summit was 144mph  – so no way we were going anywhere on the tops in skis! Instead we headed on foot over Meall a Buachaille behind Glenmore.


Despite snow shower and ferocious high wind-speeds , with the odd ‘blow-you-over’ gusts we just managed to make it over the summit before descending to Ryvoan bothy to thaw-out by the fire.


And cook damper bread …

IMG_0681An absolutely top day’s “walk on the wild side” and a great end to the week

Thanks very much to Stevie Nelson from ELWorks and Frank Brown from MGS for getting the groups together and helping with the week.

Click here for a slide-show of all of the photos.

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