Easter Ski Touring (Mar 2013)

With recent storms having dumped huge quantities of fresh snow on the hills, us ski tourers couldn’t wait to get out and play. The winds had finally died down and some settled sunny weather had set in, coupled with continued cold temperatures keeping the snow perfect – conditions could hardly be more ideal. Better still, this coincided with the Easter long weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

Saturday 30th March 2013 – Lawers Hills

With so much great snow everywhere and a “west is best” forecast, Simon, Hazel and I decided to head to Ben Lawers for a change. It turned out to be an excellent choice – fantastic snow, skis on just a couple of minutes from the car park, stunning views, and almost unbroken sunshine with very little wind. We skinned up the southern slopes of Beinn Ghlas just east of the nature reserve and on up its south ridge to about 900m, where we traversed across Coire a’ Chonnaidh, which was beautifully filled in with powder. We pressed on eastwards gaining the south-east shoulder of Beinn Ghlas at about 1000m, where we took our skins off and enjoyed a fun descent of the east side of Beinn Ghlas down to the stream at a point due south of the summit of Ben Lawers. We then skinned back the way we came to enjoy the best descent of the day – the east side of Coire a’ Chonnaidh, which had fantastic snow. We were able to continue down around the south side of Beinn Ghlas and all the way back to the bottom of the nature reserve. A fantastic day! Browse photo album here

Sunday 31st March 2013 – Cairngorms

The conditions were just too good to stop there though, so Hazel and I headed to the Cairngorms on Sunday. We parked at the Ciste (lower) car park, took advantage of the shuttle bus and ski mountaineer tickets to get up to the Ptarmigan, then headed off the east side of Cairngorm towards Strath Nethy. Sadly going for an east facing slope was a gamble that didn’t pay off – the earlier easterly storms had indeed stripped the fresh snow off it and exposed the older icier surface, so it wasn’t as nice to ski. Still, we continued on down to The Saddle to enjoy stunning views of Loch Avon completely buried under the snow (noting plenty of ski tracks across it from the bottom of Coire Raibert) but opted not to go much further, instead heading back north and down into the Ciste, where we were able to ski right back to our car. Browse photo album here

Tuesday 2nd April 2013 – Drumochter

In search of more of the nice fresh snow we’d enjoyed at Ben Lawers we headed for another west facing slope, this time Coire an Cisteachan at Drumochter. Starting from the A9 just south of Dalwhinnie, there was a bit of a carry involved this time upto about 500m, after which the old quarry track was properly filled in and provided a comfortable skinning route up to the snowfield. We headed up to the 902 point on the plateau between Carn na Caim and A’Bhuidheanach before dropping into the coire via the stream gully. The open slopes were disappointingly icy and the upper stream gully was filled in with unfriendly windpacked sastrugi lumps, but a little lower down it became a lot nicer with lovely flat windpacked powder and natural half-pipes ๐Ÿ™‚ Lower down the stream had begun to break through in places so we did a a bit of combat skiing to follow the snow as far as we could before having to get out of the stream gully and make a short walk back across frozen peat and heather back to the car.

Another nice short tour. Browse photo album here

  • Jon Bowyer