First visit to the Cairngorms

Earlier this week I had the great privileged of visiting the Cairngorms with Chris Townsend of TGO Magazine . He is a very experienced walker/skier/winter climber and has fantastic local knowledge and history of the area.
We met up at the obligatory Mountain Cafe in Aviemore, where I proceeded to tell him all about Brynje, piling clothes high up in front of him so by the end I could barely see him! It must have been a curious sight for the other customers as I produced several mesh products for him to hold up, and I swear I could hear some sniggering at times? Fortunately, Chris is a Gear guy and was interested to try out some of the kit. So we have sent him the Super Thermo mesh shirt with inlay, Skald Jacket, Super Thermo hat and Mountain Skald hat. Chris will tell it like it is, so if there are any weaknesses in the kit he'll find them!.....which is what we need!
Having kept an eye on the weather, Chris made the call to try a walk starting at the Ski resort car park. "Resort" may be to kind a description because when we got there it was more of a rock obstacle course than a ski run! However, there were a few brave souls who battled the strong wind and lack of snow to have a day out skiing!
In the above picture you can see the kind of conditions the skiers faced and so they were reduced to skiing down the maintenance track! Poor bast%@ds!
Conditions were cloudy and a cold wind  kept us company on our ascent up from the ski area towards Cairn 1141 (a vital navigation point which has no name!). The forecast called for clearing and even some sun during the afternoon, after snow in the morning. However, as usual, things didn't pan out that way. It was nice to see that Scotland has the same kind of forecasting success as Wales! The wind did continue and the cloud continued to envelop the Plateau. As we headed up the wind increased in strength and spindrift blasted in our faces. I was thinking to myself that lunch will be interesting! However on reaching cairn 1141 on the edge of the Plateau the wind eased a little and the spindrift vanished.We sat down and shared a bit of lunch as the clouds parted a little to reveal part of the Fiacalli buttress.....and loads of people climbing! The ridge looks like a really great challenge on a winters day, but it would have to wait for another time.
After a quick lunch we followed the edge of the Northern Corries over Stob Coire an t-Sneachda and Cairn Lochan. The cliffs abutting these summits were plastered with hoar frost and rime ice making for a spectacular scene. We could also see many people climbing from a Grade 1 gully scramble to what looked like full on grade 6/7 mixed ice rock stuff. Hats off to those people because it looked hard core to me!

The cloud sweeping the Plateau broke and dispersed as it passed the edge of the cliffs so that we had glimpses of the amazing Corries below us, and of course the climbers scaling the cliffs. As the weather was a real mixed bag, I was very please with the way the kit was working. The Brynje Skald mounatin hat was the days winner though as it kept out all the strong cold winds, but never caused me to over just regulated perfectly. Other mountain hats....did someone say Lowe Alpine? just get too warm and sweaty.
Of course, my now favorite Brynje Skald jacket was also doing a great job against the wind, but staying more breathable than a waterproof shell. The other nice feature in this kind of weather is the fur lined hood. The fur keeps the wind out and keeps the neck toasty! Brynje Skald pants worked well, although they could do with a gaitor clip at the back to accompany the one at the front.......when you push through deep snow I found the back rides up a little.........but then again I didn't really take the time to use the adjusting studs to tighten the gaitor around my boot?
Underneath I had Brynje  Super Thermo mesh shirt and mesh longs. I also had Brynje Classic wool merino shirt over the mesh. So mesh, merino layer and my soft shell kept me perfect in conditions around freezing with a wind chill down to (I'm guessing ) -10C all the way through our walk. The mesh is simply the best base layer I have worn. Period!

We then descended off the tops of the Northern Corries (above), and came down to the West of Cairn Lochan along the Easter ridge of Lurchers Crag. Crossing open and what seemed to be, frozen ground, Chris and I exactly the same time plunged our right boots through the snow and ice and into a wet bog! It was a bit of a shock to feel the cold water get inside the boot! Fortunately we were close to the end of our trip, so there was no complaining!

I must say that the Cairngorms are a place I have wanted to visit for a long time and now that I've been there, I've been captivated by the place, the history (thanks to Chris) and the more than slight elements of danger. They are not mountains to be taken lightly at all. In fact,, a very experienced walker was missing on the day we where up there. I'll definitely be back to explore some more!

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