The AMC Scottish winter trip returned in March after a siesta last year due to covid. Around 20 members made the long journey up north to the beautiful Ardervikie Estate, where we stayed in a series of cosy and well equipped cottages. Fort William and Aviemore were in easy striking distance by car, making it a perfect location to base ourselves for the week.
We were blessed for the first few days with wall to wall sunshine, and made the most of it by cramming as much as we could into the first few days before the forecast deteriorated later in the week.
Julian describes here how Anne and him made the most of the weather:
‘On the way to the Ardverikie, myself and Anne stayed at Ruigh Aiteachain bothy in Glen Feshie and next day did the Mullach Clach a Blair horseshoe above the corrie with a return via Drum nam Bo. A beautiful munro and covered in thin very icy snow needing some care in descent particularly as I was taking great care not to stumble and fall on my half healed broken arm. Then on monday 7th March we managed to achieve a long ambition get up Ben Macdui starting from Cairngorm Ski road. The visibility was magnificent and going icy but firm, though the day was windy with blustery winds increased by cold air down draft half way up. Still a lunch stop before the summit restored our strength and the view from the summit was worth it, and the iced up summit marker gave amusement’.
The following day, multiple parties departed from the north face car park to explore the vast array of climbing and mountaineering on Ben Nevis. Paul and James did a lap up Ledge route and down the CMD arête, where they crossed paths with Emma and I on the way to the summit. The skies were blue and the conditions were stunning, with a favourable avalanche forecast and firm snow. Ale and Rich explored harder routes on the NE face with a guide.
We had now had the best of the weather, and had to get more creative with our planning to find objectives that were sheltered from the wind, which was now forecast to pick up. A small party opted to travel over to the Glencoe pass and yomp up to Coire nan Lochan to see for ourselves what the wind was doing on Dorsal arête. Half of Scotland clearly has the same idea as the queue for Dorsal arête was comparable to that for a black market toilet roll stand from lockdown 1. That said, the wind did drop, so Paul and Rich dutifully joined the line, whilst Emma and I dashed up Broad gulley to the summit of Stob Choire nan Lochan. They were still at the first belay by the time we descended, so we left them to it and popped back to the cottage just in time for the rain to start!
The rest of the week saw the weather return to its more typical Scottish winter form. Heightened avalanche risk limited options in gullies whilst high winds made the prospect of ridges equally intimidating. Emma and I managed to dash out for an easy spring-like ski, and a couple of us had a restful trip to Glenfeshie forest to wander around and recover from our more energetic days.
We did brave the conditions again in the Cairngorms where we enjoyed (?) the whitest white out I have ever been in on the plateau after scrambling up the fiacaill ridge. 2km of blind bearing and pacing later, we popped out of the white and were greeted by a superb rainbow before hot drinks at the mountain café.
As the group from the club was large, we all split up into smaller teams to find our own adventures in the week, not all of which I have been able to mention in this report. However, I can safely say that we all had a very special week, so thanks to Becky for doing the booking and initial organising.