Fluted and Fiacaill Buttresses

Conditions in the Cairngorms yesterday were perhaps more representative of a normal winter, compared with last year when the snow cover and build-up was extensive and substantial.

The weather was true to the word of the forecast: a very mild airstream with high winds was buffeting the high areas and there was a thaw at all levels throughout the day. This though was not a bad thing as the Coire Cas car park was a lethal skating rink first thing.

We headed up onto Cairn Lochan via Miadan Creag an Leith-choin and then practised some navigation on the plateau. This was stretching for me, with the combination of very poor visibility and indistinct terrain, but this is the challenge of winter, especially in the Cairngorms.

The original plan was a traverse of the whole of the Northern Corries, but as is normal on the first day with sorting out people and kit hire, we set off late and settled for a descent to Coire and t-Sneachda via the Goat Track. Many climbers were out enjoying routes such as Aladdin’s Mirror Direct IV, 4**, Fingers Ridge IV, 4/5*** and Fiacaill Couloir II***. The butresses were black, but there was a lot of good ice and hard snow in the gullies.

Despite having to truncate our route plan, it was a good introductory day and a timely reminder that expectations have to be matched with the conditions and strength of the party.


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