Three weeks ago I travelled to Lochaber to walk to the summit of Aonach Mòr. The purpose of the trip was to locate an area on the mountain which contains a long-lasting snowpatch from last winter. I’ve visited similar areas in the Cairngorm mountains many times (see several previous blog postings and my website page about perennial snow), but this was my first trip to sites in the Lochaber area.
On Saturday last weekend I climbed Sgùrr na Sgine in Glen Shiel with Katy. Our original plan had been to climb to the summit of The Saddle via the Forcan Ridge, but as the weather was pretty bad, we decided to do the slightly easier summit of Sgùrr na Sgine which lies just to the south-east of The Saddle.
I’ve written a lot in my blog postings about snowfields that persist in mountainous regions at high altitudes into the summer months (and beyond), but there is a related phenomenon that I have only recently become aware of, and that is of winter ice persisting into the summer months in rock fissures (or fractures) and caves. These fissures can exist at any elevation and not necessarily in mountainous areas, and can provide a remarkably sheltered local environment deep within them that can collect snowfall in the winter months but are largely unaffected by the surrounding climatic conditions. Something related to these fissures is a geological feature known as an ‘Algific talus slope‘ although this is something that is new to me, but they seem to be, in effect, natural subterranean freezers!
During my recent 2-day trip to Ben Macdui I took the opportunity to have a look and see what snowpatches are still surviving in the vicinity of the summit of Ben Macdui. This follows on from my trip to the Cairn Gorm – Ben Macdui plateau in early July (see the blog posting ‘Summer snowfields in the Cairngorms (3)‘).
A few weeks ago I travelled to Linn of Dee near Braemar and cycled along Glen Lui towards Ben Macdui with the intention of walking up to the summit via Glen Luibeg from the south. The weather was very wet and low clouds meant there wasn’t very much in the way of views, so I ended up changing my plans and walking to the summit of Sgòr Mòr instead. Sgòr Mòr is a Corbett summit in the middle of the Cairngorms and is completely overshadowed by the huge peaks surrounding it, but its saving grace is that it offers exceptional views of these mountains. However, on the day of my walk there wasn’t much to see, so it ended up being a fairly unrewarding trip.
On Tuesday last week I travelled to Torridon to hike to Coire Mhic Fhearchair, a three hour walk to a hidden corrie behind Beinn Eighe. Coire Mhic Fhearchair must be one of the most dramatic corries in the whole of the Scottish mountains, with the impressive backdrop of the Triple Buttress.
The day started off with blue skies and very little wind, and the walk along Coire Dubh Mhor beneath the eastern cliffs of Liathach was almost idyllic (there were a few midgies about), with a great view in the morning light of the glacial ‘hummocky moraine’ deposits in Glen Torridon called ‘The Corrie of a Hundred Hills‘.
On Monday I travelled to Glen Carron and climbed up to the summit of Sgurr nan Ceannaichean. I did not walk up the usual way recommended in guide books but instead walked up via Coire an t-Seilich and the north-western slopes of the mountain. This was over difficult terrain and the overgrown vegetation, boggy ground, steep slopes of wet grass, insects, humidity and heavy rain made it a pretty unpleasant climb! Once I was near the summit however, the weather cleared and I was able to take some photos of the great views, which included the peaks of Torridon and Letterewe to the north.
On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I undertook a 100km cycle trip around the Black Isle in Easter Ross with Kate. The route was mostly on quiet country roads, some of which formed part of NCN 1. We started at Inverness train station and our route on the first day took us over the Kessock Bridge, past the Tore roundabout and along the north part of the Black Isle through Culbokie (with great views of the Cromarty Firth and Ben Wyvis) to finish in Cromarty where we camped. On the second day our route took us back along the southern part of the Black Isle, past the high point of the Eathie Hill transmitter, through the Tore roundabout again and then back along the Beauly Firth coast, to return to Inverness via the Kessock Bridge again.
On Thursday last week I travelled to the Lake District to walk up to the 950m summit of Helvellyn. This was my second walking trip to the Lake District (the first being to Skiddaw in March, see the blog posting ‘Skiddaw‘)
I walked up along Mires Beck river from Glenridding and onto the broad ridge of Birkhouse Moor before the arête of Striding Edge itself.
For the past few years I’ve made summer trips to the Cairn Gorm – Ben Macdui plateau in the summer months to check on the snowpatches that remain at high altitudes on the plateau (see the previous blog postings ‘Summer snowfields in the Cairngorms (2)‘, from August 2009 and ‘Summer snowfields in the Cairngorms‘ from July 2008). See my website page here for more information about ‘perennial’ snow in the Scottish mountains.