- December 2021
On Earth There Is No Heaven, But There Are Pieces Of It.
Weather conditions at present are spectacular for hillwalkers and even more so for hill walkers like us who just love taking photos…its paradise.
We decided to have a wander around the Cairngorms as conditions here were said to be amazing. There would be no new munro summits for us here however as we have completed all of the munros from this side, today was simply about enjoying the views and where better than the Cairngorms.
We had parked up at the ski centre the night before and we were woken with the most amazing views in the morning. Low clouds were forming in the valley and the most beautiful moon sat in the pinkest of skies…it looked very picturesque indeed and felt very calming. We just knew something spectacular was building.
Today we were going to head up to the Cairngorm plateau via the Fiacaill Ridge probably my favourite route on to the plateau from the north. This way up we have done several times and I always enjoy it. I feel its usually a quieter approach with some scrambling and a short ridge walk so it has a little of everything to keep things fun and interesting.
We headed along the path which took us towards Coire an t-Sneachda before slipping off to the right, leaving the main path and on to scrub and boulders making our way through heather, bog and some patches of snow which led us up towards the Fiacaill Ridge (Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda).
The ridge begins as some have described as a ‘broad whale-back’ covered with boulder fields, before narrowing to a spectacular, if a little short lived exposed scramble.
We were soon up at the start of our scrambling point. I always enjoy this part and on looking at some of these sections it looks like there is no-way up and over. Most of the scrambling is pretty easy and enjoyable. I always or should I maybe use the word ‘usually’ because always is not the case when your hanging from a great height and one wrong move could prove fatal, enjoy the physical and mental enjoyment of a scramble as I wind my way up and over, searching for a hold or a way in which I can get up to the next point, it keeps me focussed.
From here we continued to make our way over the rock on the ridge, enjoying the scrambling and fine views all around us.
The day was spectacular so it was everything about enjoying the moment, and taking in the views.
This wall of granite separates the two popular Cairngorm climbing venues, known as the Northern Corries. We could see a few climbers doing various routes up the vertical wall of this buttress that plunges into Coire an t-Sneachda, it looked pretty impressive in the snow and ice.
After this first rocky section of the ridge it flattens out briefly before we hit the main section of the scramble to end the ridge which is usually described as the crux section.
This part isnt really that difficult. On looking at it on first glance it does look pretty impassible. There are plenty of holds and I think I only possibly found two tricky bits whereby I had to stretch and maneuver quite a bit to reach a hold. Once over this it was a straightforward scramble to the top.
Views were amazing all around. Snow lay on the tops of these mountains and everything looked just so beautiful. We simply stood taking it all in enjoying the moment.
Conditions up here were absolutely amazing, better than on most times we have been up here in summer and we have been up here a lot. Today we had no wind, full sunshine and temperatures were sitting at approximately 8 degrees, this is December, in the Cairngorms…its almost unheard off. Conditions in the valley were much colder with no sun whatsoever.
Its not often we climb mountains to be met with better conditions at the top of the climb than down at the bottom. The explanation today was because we were witnessing a massive cloud inversion as far as the eye could see.
This was probably our best cloud inversion ever, or possibly a close second with our cloud inversion once in Glencoe when we wild camped on a summit across from the Buachaille Etive Mor (see below photo and make up you own mind).
Cloud inversions or temperature inversions happen when the normal temperature distribution of air which would usually be warm at the bottom, colder at the top is basically flipped upside down, this then means you have a cold layer of air trapped at ground level, overlain by warm air. Today the valley was approximately -4 and the tops approximately 8 degrees, thus providing this spectacular scene of mass thick cloud below us.
I’d personally say, after now witnessing a couple of full on cloud inversions that these are among the most magical weather phenomena that a hillwalker could experience, they are breathtaking.
If there is a heaven, I experienced some of it today and its a day that I think will linger long in my memory. Times like these I never want to go back down and especially not today when it was murky and driech, so we didn’t for a while.
We continued to wander and wander and wander over the tops, across the plateau, whilst climbing a few munro peaks, it was quite simply breathtakingly beautiful up here.
It wasn’t until an hour before sunset that we reluctantly made our way back down to the van and oh how we wished we had brought our tent up here with us!
Hope you enjoyed the video 👆💙🙌