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New Year 03-04 - AVIEMORE
After last years successful trip to Tomintoul a repeat trip was organised, this time a little closer to Aviemore, to avoid the potential threat of being snowed in (or out as Alan and Kathryn were to find out on Hogmanay!).

Brian, Jacqui, Barbara and Murray formed the advance party arriving on Saturday. They enjoyed a good day snowboarding close to Loch Morlich on Sunday before Steve and Alison arrived on Sunday night.

Jacqui snowboarding at Glenmore Loch Morlich
Unusual crampon technique!!
The ladies with their tools.
Steve iceaxe breaking

On Monday Brian, Jacqui, Steve and Alison spent the day practicing ice axe and crampon techniques around Cairngorm. An excellent day even though Alison and Steve made hard work of getting back to the car park!

Barbara and Murray went for a drive, to the Lecht, to have a go at tubing. Unfortunately, now that the snow had finally arrived, the tubing wasn't ready to open!!

That evening Pat and Gillian arrived.

Tuesday saw another fine day and Alison and Steve set off for Mullach Clach a' Bhlair, the southernmost Munro in Glen Feshie. After negotiating the icy five mile minor road down to Achlean Farm they unfortunately encountered a "raging torrent" (well it was deep and cold looking) only half a mile into the walk and decided to change their route to do Sgorr Gaoith instead. This turned out to be an absolutely superb day with clear blue skies and plenty of snow. Even the walk out after sunset wasn't a problem as the moon shone down on the snow!

Sgorr Gaoith Sgorr Gaoith
Sgorr Gaoith sunset Sgorr Gaoith sunset
Loch Morlich Sgorr Gaoith

Back at the Cottage the Inshriach Book club settled down for a wee read and a sip of alcohol, in front of the fire, while Brian headed out on his mountain bike for a -14ºC ride on the snow and ice.

Murray returned to the hill at Glenmore for a wee bit more snowboard practice.

Wednesday was spent preparing for Hogmanay and the arrival of Alan and Kathryn as Barbara and Murray made their way home. Unfortunately the weather around Perth forced Alan and Kathryn to make a detour via Fort William where they eventually found a room at the Milton Inn (or was it a stable?!). They eventually found their way to Aviemore on the morning of New Years Day.

Meanwhile Alison and Steve found themselves in the Old Bridge Inn in the company of an Aussie couple and a Londoner - not as bad as it might sound. In fact much entertainment was had as snow began to fall as the Aussies had never actually seen snow falling.

New Years Day saw all of us go for a leisurely walk or cycle around Loch an Eilein, although at times it was more like an ice rink. At least some welcome refreshment was provided in the form of miniature Bailleys from Steve's rucksack!

Cairngorm Summit Steep descent into Coire an t-Sneachda
Cairngorm Plateau Last rise to summit of Cairngorm
Heading for Coire an t-Sneachda Descending Fiacaill Ridge Monarch of the Glen Gatehouse

The final day saw Brian, Jacqui, Steve, Alison, Kathryn and Alan walk up Cairngorm via Fiacaill a Choire Chais, a photo of which even made it on to the BBC website! (see photo 10 in Again great weather prevailed and encouraged us to return via Coire an t-Sneachda down what can only be described as an interesting gully. Never has Kathryn been so quiet - not helped by Jacqui's observation that it was just like going down stairs!

And so we returned on Saturday, already making plans for next year!

Steve Morley

Photos Steve Morley and Brian Loye

Affiliated Membership of:
Mountaineering Council of Scotland
Scottish Youth Hostels Association

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