Cairngorm Ski Touring

We're currently cruising along a damp and foggy A9 squeezed into Ryans red Audi after a great long weekend ski touring in the Cairngorms.

Plenty of Snow!

Sunday was one of the most magic days I've had out in the mountains for a long time. The weather and snow conditions were amazing. After being battered with weeks of rain and high winds at home in North Wales it felt fantastic to get up high with plenty of snow beneath the skis under a blue sky.
We drove up on Saturday after making plans in less than 6hrs after weather, snow condition, time off and psyche all came together.


On Sunday we skinned up from the bottom Cairngorm ski car park up to the summit of Cairngorm mountain. It was amazing to see how much snow there was, at one point we skied over the top of a lift cable! After a somewhat tricky descent down from the summit we traversed across the Cairngorm platue and dropped into Lurchers Gully which was amazing, not too steep and with plenty of soft pristine snow. I managed to ski all the way back to the top ski station car park.

Skinning along the Cairngorm Platue

Re-attaching skins after first descent down onto the platue from Cairngorm moutain

Descending Cairngorm

About to descend Lurchers Gully

Looking back up our descent down Lurchers from close to bottom ski station

On Monday since me feet were in agony from the previous days outing in poor fitting hire boots I planned to accompany the other guys skinning up Fiacailli a Choire Chais ridge in the morning then descend down to the ski centre and purchase an afternoons uplift pass and hit some piste downhill runs to practice my skiing. I ended up accompanying the guys to traverse along the side of Cairngorm (slightly gripping) then descend down Coire na Ciste gully. The descent was fun but I found it more challenging in poor visibility, painful boots and steeper ground than the previous day. The snow however was great, quite powdery in places. After getting down i was told that all the lift tickets had been sold for the day, the place was super busy given that it was half term. Dave, un-deterred immediately set off to skin back up to the Ptarmigan ski station for another run. As much as I would have loved to join, my feet in the painful boots would not really allow without feeling like I was doing damage! This was but disappointing since it was only lunchtime but it certainly did not feel like a day wasted! The weather had also turned a but more Scottish so I didn't mind too much.

This was my first ever experience of ski touring and probably my fourth or fifth time ever out skiing! It felt a bit of a steep learning curve and baptise of fire at times but I soon felt like I just about got the hang of things. 'skinning', the word used to describe the action of going up hill on skis after fitting 'skins', a sort of fabric layer to the bottom of the ski is the most amazing way to travel in the mountains in winter. I believe the term 'skin' is due to what was historically used to achieve the same effect. I was particularly impressed with how modern ski touring binding work allowing the heal to be easily released and held at different angles for ascending uphill. It's amazing, it's possible to ascent some pretty steep snow, although we did hit the limit ascending up Fiacailli a Choire Chais ridge! As with anything there are many subtle tricks and technique to learn, I found skinning quite hard and took a lot of concentration particularly when traversing. Things were not helped by the ski hire boots which were particularly painful and did not really fit my feet very well. I think for the future I will try and invest in my own pair of boots.

We stayed in the Cairngorm Christian centre which was great. Good value and most welcoming, the place is also fully equipped with board games to pass the time! 

Big thanks to Ryan for driving!