Fighting it out on the Big White Mountain.


Somewhat wild day yesterday, ski touring with a great couple of folks on Carn Ban Mor (‘Big white mountain’ in Gaelic).

With the Cairngorm ski road shut, we headed down the valley, but heavy snow showers on strong to gale force westerly winds still made for a challenging day out. And at times, near zero vis meant compass bearings, GPS and very defensive skiing!

Interesting to note in the photos, the snow deposition caused by very high winds: deep unstable windslab in lee areas and practically scoured surfaces to windward.

Finding a little cubby hole on the ridge gave us the chance to down some food, add some layers and practice a horizontal ski belay.

We ended up backing off the plateau and our intended steep descent, due to a potentially spicy combination of zero vis, 70+ mph wind, building avalanche hazard, food poisoning and unglued ski skins! Instead, we dropped into Coire Ruadh (‘the red corrie’), where I managed to get in a little coaching on skiing windslab and powder.

We finished a testing day with a bizarre combo comprising big turns in light Scottish powder, followed by straight lining through frozen heather! My guests were both experienced ski tourers and summarised it well: ‘the conditions weren’t the best, but that’s Scotland for you’.

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