30th January to 1st February 2015 - An Taigh Mor Lagganlia, Kincraig
Let it snow let it snow let it snow!
An MWIS promise of 100mph gusts on the summits and a BBC forecast of near continuous snow all day (both of which were probably exaggerations as it turned out) confined EMCers to lower levels on Saturday. With conditions ideal for XC skiing Claire, Clare, Antti, Katrina and Chris headed off to the rental site at Glenmore only to find no skis available until 2pm. Apparently they occupied themselves with a wander and "a huge snowball fight" until skis could be obtained, after which they enjoyed sliding around in the woods until dark. Tim and Alison skiied straight out of Lagganlia along the road and into the forest on their own equipment, Tim once again baptising the skis he'd bought at the back end of the last big winter 3 years ago and finally getting some use this year. A party of EMC walkers (including a snowshoe-shod Kenny) were encountered on the last leg to the cafe at Inshriach. Alas it's closed January & February; and lunch was consumed sitting outside in its driveway in the snow below a sign proclaiming "one of Britain's Top 10 Cake Shops" (and if that wasn't bad enough, at one point the emerging proprietor let slip the information that they'd just made themselves a nice carrot cake). Meanwhile other walkers (Paul, Ian, Kate, Alan, Adam) had aimed higher and got up to just over 600m on a lump on the side of the Feshie ridge in increasingly ferocious conditions. They met a university group claiming to want to get up to Sgor Gaoith (which - unsurprisingly/fortunately for them - didn't happen).
The increasing size of the club meant we'd opted for Lagganlia's "Big House" this visit. This is a bit "schooly" and institutional compared with Lannanlia's other smaller chalets, but perhaps luckily for us some issue with the kitchen meant we were also allocated use of a smaller cosier hut nearby. Everyone must have had a good day as at least half the club seemed to have disappeared off to bed by 10 and the rest by 11. Unfortunately those bunked on the wrong side of the building had to endure a noisy party in another nearby hut.
Sunday looked considerably better with less wind and clear skies, but as expected after such a day and night of snow and wind, a rush for the ski area car park for some Northern Corries action found itself in queuing at the still closed snow gate. Keith wandered up the line of traffic to get a prognosis, and returned to tell: "The guy said the road would be open at 9:30. Then he laughed." In the end the would-be climbers gave up at 10:00 with the road still not open and opted for old favourite Meall a Bhuachaille and more XC-skiing. Tim bailed out of waiting earlier to bag a parking place at the Glenmore Lodge roadhead and attempted to ski up to Nethy Bridge, but snow cover became a bit scratchy past Forest Lodge, so returned via a side-trip to the Bynack Stable site. No igloo to be seen there this year (yet), although there appeared to have been an attempt to dig a couple of snowholes into a bank. Also encountered was a chap with enormous old-school snowshoes towing a heavily laden home-made sledge apparently set on a week long camping tour by those means. "I've been waiting years for this" he said. Elsewhere, the hired-skis party headed through the woods to Loch Gamhna and around Loch an Eilein. Their journey back involved two fence scalings, some extreme cross country including skiing up a tree, and a shower of sparks as Chris skied over a rock. Walkers bagged another lump on the side of Feshie ridge - after getting a bit lost in the snowy woods - getting higher than yesterday and finding enough ice for spiky footwear to be donned at one point.
Let it snow let it snow let it snow!