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Tuesday 13th 04 2010 01:49:51 PM

Pictures by Andy Main and words by Neil Mackenzie

Epic day - Bynack More

Despite the epic drifts of snow bearing down on the ski-road, our approach to cairngorm car park was remarkably un-enthusiastic.  Our plans were undetermined and our path over the vast whiteness unclear, Andy and Warren wanted to go in different direction; I just wanted to sleep off my hangover, but this was never an option on such a fine day!! After a brief argument with a parking attendant we geared up at the lower car park and skinned up towards the Ptarmigan top-station, where we passed a free-style comp and contemplated the joys of chilling in the sun with a beer enjoying the show.   The joys of the mountain were, however, far more tempting and we continued to the summit of Cairngorm.

With our route still undecided we surveyed the landscape, blue and white as far as the eye could see, and decided to cruise due south from the summit towards Loch Avon.  The terrain here was gentle, the spring snow soft and the sun warm giving wide turns of a carefree nature. This was the life! Things got a little more testing as we got closer to the steep slopes looking over Loch Avon.  We scoped a short steep route following the Feith Buidhe and with a few sharp turns I launched myself down and easily out-ran the slow moving slough that I had displaced.  This was short but on the spring snow very fast and provided a great contrast to the top section of the run. 

We had hoped to find a navigable path on the ice across the Loch but it looked decidedly dodgy and there was not sufficient snow to skin around so we decided to power back up to the saddle and make for the summit of Bynack More.  With the sun now high, this was hot work, giving a good excuse to stop for regular water breaks and enjoy the magnificent views over the entire Grampian mountains.   Some small rock steps had to be hiked on the ascent but this took nothing away from what was now turning into an epic day.  We stopped on the summit of Bynack More for some tea and sustenance, admiring the crown decoration of half meter tall sastrugi tracing the winters prevailing wind.  So enraptured was Andy by the surroundings that he dropped a ski, it made a valiant attempt for freedom but was luckily stopped before it got out of control!

A slightly wind-swept start to this run brought us quickly into a natural funnel that dropped us at the top of the Alt a’Choire Dheirg.  This was a narrowing gulley that was atmospherically guarded by corniced buttresses on either side, these crests of snow had be broken by the spring sunshine and gave the appearance of miniature seracs.   This section gave a steep and fast descent and which I took too quickly and two thirds of the way down the snow consistency changed, the nose of my board dived and I was catapulted into a corkscrew front-flip, which I somehow landed and carried on riding! Unfortunately this unexpected highly stylish trick/fluke wipe-out was not captured on camera, as it would have made a entertaining sequence.  From here further gentle turns were enjoyed as we descended further into Strathnethy where we dropped below the snow line and hiked back over Stac na h-Lolaire towards the car park in the evening sunshine.

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