Yes, I know itís the Cairngorms again, but what can I say, I like them! It was just me and the Ipod today, and I was in a determined mood with one main aim. I cycled in passed Derry Lodge and walked over to Corrour Bothy, followed by the short ascent up to the col at the head of Coire Odhar. From there (930m), I was able to ski up and round the West side of Cairn Toul, all the way to the top of Angels Peak, with the exception of a 5m rocky section, which was fine, as I was expecting a lot more carrying than skiing.
There are some gullies and faces that I have spotted and dream about skiing. They occupy a fair amount of my thinking time as I cycle the miles to and from work, hoping that the exercise will help to strengthen my legs for these moments. The 350m high North East face of Sgor an Lochain Uaine (The Angelís Peak) was one of these. On the top, I descended a couple of metres down the NE ridge and kicked a ledge in the snow. Then back at the top, I paced around a bit, and dithered. Once the skis were on, I shuffled down to the ledge, and dithered quite a bit more. It was really only the top 50m I was concerned about, in part as it was actually quite cool, and I couldnít tell how solid the snow would be.
Eventually, something had to give, and I just slid in. I was barely a ski length in, and I knew it was going to be OK. The snow was firm, but grippy. After a couple of steep turns, I was grinning ear to ear, and went for it. I canít tell you how good it felt to know I could do it, and on top of that, how fantastic it was to ski. Down at the lochan, I was surprised how imposing the face was from down there. I had a wee rest in the sunshine, rather happy with myself.
I wasnít done yet though, and set off up the ridge to the North of the summit of Cairn Toul. It was nearly 400m of ascent on rather mobile scree, but I was too happy to care. Earlier, on the walk in, I had spotted that the stream line from the east facing summit corrie of Cairn Toul was mostly there still, and thought Iíd tick of another must do run. The summit bowl was over in a few seconds, then a 5m walk across a break at the lip of the corrie, and I was then able to ski all the way down to about 650m, a descent of nearly 650m itself.
Itís fair to say this was a contender for my best day out skiing ever. Even though the weather was great for Sunday, I didnít feel the urge to drag myself out again! The film clip gives you the whole descent from the ledge, along with the cheesy grin at the bottom :o)