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11 April 2009: Angels Peak & Cairn Toul, Cairngorms Skiing Winter 2008/2009
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)

The Devil's Point and Cairn Toul on the walk in.  At the end of the day, I skied out of the bowl on Cairn Toul and down the narrow strip of snow into the Lairig Ghru.
The view across to Angel's Peak and Braeriach beyond.
Looking into the head of Garbh Coire from my ledge.  Taken while dithering.
Why I was dithering, part 1.
Why I was dithering, part 2.  However, it's also why I was there. The skis are horizontal.
Rather smug :o)
A view of the face, with the sun catching my tracks in the lower section.
Taken while climbing up Cairn Toul using the zoom.  My ledge isn't visible, but it's just down and right of the guy, above the rocks, and I skied in below and right of where he is standing.
At the top of Cairn Toul.  One guy appeared looking knackered with a large rucksack.  He saw the skis, and with a laboured delivery, said
View down the corrie from the summit ridge of Cairn Toul.  I almost got to the river!
View from the lip of the corrie looking down into the Lairig Ghru.  I got all the way down to the end of the first of the 3 snow bridges.
Looking back up.  The narrow section high up was actually a short section of bare granite. This was tackled by planting the poles on it, and levering/pivoting myself across.  It worked, thus avoiding a face plant!
05 April 2009: Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor Skiing Winter 2008/2009
31 March 2009: Black Spout, Lochnagar Skiing Winter 2008/2009
30 March 2009: Bynack Mor Skiing Winter 2008/2009
29 March 2009: Ski touring, Northern Corries of Cairngorm Skiing Winter 2008/2009
23 March 2009: Skiing, Cairngorms, yet again! Skiing Winter 2008/2009
15 March 2009: Skiing, Cairngorms Skiing Winter 2008/2009
21 February 2009: Mini ski tour, Beinn Macdui Skiing Winter 2008/2009
15 February 2009: Ski Tour, Lochnagar Skiing Winter 2008/2009
01 February 2009: Lurchers Crag, Lairig Ghru Winter Route Winter 2008/2009
31 January 2009: Skiing on Sgairneach Mhor Skiing Winter 2008/2009
24 January 2009: Ski Tour, Beinn a'Bhuird Skiing Winter 2008/2009
19 January 2009: Avoriaz Skiing Winter 2008/2009
03 January 2009: Stac Pollaidh Walk Winter 2008/2009
02 January 2009: Meall Horn Winter Route Winter 2008/2009
13 December 2008: Ski Tour, Glenshee - again! Skiing Winter 2008/2009
07 December 2008: Ski Tour, Glenshee Skiing Winter 2008/2009
06 December 2008: Windfall, Lochnagar Winter Route Winter 2008/2009
29 November 2008: Glen Isla walk Walk Winter 2008/2009
23 November 2008: The Haute Route, Clashindarroch Skiing Winter 2008/2009
22 November 2008: The Prow, Craig Rennet (Glen Doll) Winter Route Winter 2008/2009
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