/ Cairngorms in winter

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mauraman 17 Jul 2019

 Seeking experienced advice regarding a multi day winter hike in the Cairngorms, (full winter conditions) taking on a few summits as well.

I don't ski or have the equipment for it, obviously crampon and axes will be used for slopes, climbs and whenever conditions demand it. I was wondering if it will be necessary to bring snowshoes or not? Weight is obviously an issue as all the essentials for a few night out, food etc.. will be needed so i wouldn't like to carry it if not indispensable.

Also, is it possible to find unfrozen water/streams on low land to avoid having to melt snow all the time?

Furthermore, is a gas stove (Jetboil type , not inverted canister) going to do the job (apparently they work down to zero degrees and , with few precautions even below) or is an alcohol burner an option? they seem to be popular in northern countries, America and Canada. I have discarded the liquid fuel stoves option as I am not familiar with it and it seems that the priming may be an hazard when trying to cook in the tent porch (high flames) and also a faff.

All comment and suggestion most welcome, thanks in advance

Eric9Points 17 Jul 2019
In reply to mauraman:

You don't need snow shoes and I've never seen anyone in the UK wearing them. No doubt in certain conditions and in certain places they'd save some effort.

Can't help with stoves. I use a Trangia, the AK47 of outdoor catering.

4
Fergal 17 Jul 2019
In reply to mauraman:

Good navigation will be key, wind and whiteout are the default on the tops, so be prepared.

The Larigh ghru would be a fine winter expedition, Aviemore to Braemar, high point around 2000ft? follow your'e nose, would get you into the heart of the Cairngorms and there is a bothy in an emergency.

girlymonkey 17 Jul 2019
In reply to Eric9Points:

> You don't need snow shoes and I've never seen anyone in the UK wearing them. No doubt in certain conditions and in certain places they'd save some effort.

I'd agree you don't need them, but I have used them in Scotland and they really do make sense if you have deep snow. Of course, many days you will have some deep snow and some neve hard as steel, so you might be on and off with them a bit. Personally, I find the effort of taking them on and off to be worth it if the alternative is post holing for what feels like forever! I am generally more inclined to ski than snow shoe, but if I am with non skiers then I use them. 

As for stoves, I use a basic vango burner which has a hose to the canister so you can invert it. It is cheap as chips and works well.

Simon Caldwell 17 Jul 2019
In reply to Eric9Points:

I've done a couple of Scottish trips where snowshoes (or skis) were essential to make any sort of progress. But those were very much the exception.

mauraman 17 Jul 2019
In reply to Fergal:

Great, Thanks! I am brushing up on my nav skills. Not too bad at the moment but I need to improve accuracy on pace/distance. You don't want to get it wrong on a top of a mountain!

mauraman 17 Jul 2019
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

Thanks a lot. It seems like I will do without snowshoes and slog through the deep snow sections if  needed. It will save me carrying a couple of kilograms of gear I might not use.

1
malk 17 Jul 2019
In reply to mauraman:

Chris Townsend using snowshoes in gorms- who would argue with his experience?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgwlI-y4qDo

Post edited at 14:52
Simon Caldwell 17 Jul 2019
In reply to mauraman:

I managed without snowshoes for about 25 years. But having got some, I now always at least put them in the car - after heavy snow without enough wind to scour it, they're invaluable

Dave the Rave 17 Jul 2019
In reply to mauraman:

> Thanks a lot. It seems like I will do without snowshoes and slog through the deep snow sections if  needed. It will save me carrying a couple of kilograms of gear I might not use.

What if those extra kilos save you a few hours of slugging through deep snow and possible exhaustion and benightment or worse?

Why not take the stress out of the trip and book a Glenmore Lodge 3 day winter nav and snow hiking experience? 

mauraman 17 Jul 2019
In reply to Dave the Rave:

 What if those extra kilos save you a few hours of slugging through deep snow and possible exhaustion and benightment or worse?

that is why I have asked, in this sort of things you have to balance risk, advantages, weight...if you pack to answer all the "what if" your backpack won't be enough to contain half of it, so...... in your opinion, is it worth to take snow shoes or not?

As I don't know the area and prevailing conditions too well, I will consider all opinions and then make a decision (of course no one can predict conditions, but that is part of the game)

With regards to the course, it's an option. I have done a couple of winter skills courses and a bit of winter climbing. Good learning, probably just enough to cope with winter hiking. I now feel that I need a bit of a challenge so, joining a course won't cut it.

I am aware that I am pushing the boat out but that is exactly the point. I am conscious of my limits and have ventured a few times and for longer periods of time in hostile environments ( not in the cold: paddling in the Amazonas for 72 days, 3500 Km., off road biking in Sumatra for 28 days,700 km, that sort of thing). I have now much less time but I crave a bit of hardship and wilderness which I think I can find in the Cairngorms, alone, in winter

Post edited at 19:21
Andypeak 17 Jul 2019
In reply to mauraman:

I've never needed snow shoes. Stove wise I'd get a winter gas canister and just use you normal stove.P make a good winter canister that's only a few pounds more expensive than a regular one. Just got to pray for some winter conditions, it was pushing 20 degrees on my last "winter" backpacking trip in the Cairngorms. 

Dave the Rave 17 Jul 2019
In reply to mauraman:

>  What if those extra kilos save you a few hours of slugging through deep snow and possible exhaustion and benightment or worse?

> that is why I have asked, in this sort of things you have to balance risk, advantages, weight...if you pack to answer all the "what if" your backpack won't be enough to contain half of it, so...... in your opinion, is it worth to take snow shoes or not?

Firstly, I’m not dissin you or your objective.

My opinion is that snow conditions can vary day to day in our climate so unless you can plan for a time of hard, consolidated snow then your question is pointless at this stage. If it’s a fresh unconsolidated snow fall I would suggest snow shoes or skis that you don’t have. 

> As I don't know the area and prevailing conditions too well, I will consider all opinions and then make a decision (of course no one can predict conditions, but that is part of the game)

exactly

> With regards to the course, it's an option. I have done a couple of winter skills courses and a bit of winter climbing. Good learning, probably just enough to cope with winter hiking. I now feel that I need a bit of a challenge so, joining a course won't cut it.

> I am aware that I am pushing the boat out but that is exactly the point. I am conscious of my limits and have ventured a few times and for longer periods of time in hostile environments ( not in the cold: paddling in the Amazonas for 72 days, 3500 Km., off road biking in Sumatra for 28 days,700 km, that sort of thing). I have now much less time but I crave a bit of hardship and wilderness which I think I can find in the Cairngorms, alone, in winter

I’m sure you won’t be disappointed

Have fun and take care.

pasbury 17 Jul 2019
In reply to mauraman:

The four 4000-ers are a mighty fine expedition. You spend a lot of time high up but the weather can make that heaven or hell!

Otherwise it’s just a normal Scottish winter backpack, no need for special gear unless you want to  snowhole or something like that.

Dave the Rave 17 Jul 2019
mauraman 17 Jul 2019
In reply to Andypeak:

Thanks Andy. will definitely try the winter gas.

Hopefully there will be a proper winter, sooner or later. Getting the right conditions has become a tricky business when you live so far from the good spots and you have to work most of the time!

mauraman 17 Jul 2019
In reply to Dave the Rave:

Ok, sounds sensible. Thanks Dave. Nowadays is hard to plan a trip as conditions seems to be less and less reliable. Probably I will get ready for short notice departure and wait for a window of reasonable conditions, hoping to catch it in time. 

Post edited at 21:27
mauraman 17 Jul 2019
In reply to Dave the Rave:

Very eloquent footage!!


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