Scottish Steep Skiing.
We've just had quite a bit of fresh snow falling down to 600m or so. The strong westerly winds have blown it over onto east facuing slopes and built some big cornices. Today the visibility was in and out all day. So, there was some very good skiing to enjoy in the back coires of Aonach Mor but you had to be pretty switched on to enjoy it safely. I was skiing with Brodie, Connor, Simon and Dom, a very strong team, so we had a blast!
We warmd up with a couple of laps of The Goose which had 20cm or so of fresh soft snow and grauple and, even with a lazy start, we got some first tracks on the slopes. Next up we went for a wee skin up to Easy Gully with no intention of skiing it, given the considerable avalanche hazard. The fresh cornices were quite impressive and we managed to make some of it fall off with a stern look and a gentle tap with a boot. This cleared the gully (which had nobody in it lower down by the way!) and it seemed secure enough for us to drop in. We found a nice gentle start and skied the gully on fairly firm cleared snow until it opened out into beautiful powder in the coire lower down. There's lots of features in the slope which are normally smoothed over with deep snow. The base is very thin relatively so the run down was way more interesting than usual.
We managed to ski round to the front quite easily and had time for another lap. This time we went to the summit of Aonach Mor to ski Summit Gully. The top of this had very little cornice and much less avalanche hazard so we had a great run down, even though the light was starting to go quite flat. More powder lower down and lovely steep pitches got us to the floor of the coire, a long traverse round to the base of Rob Roy and a wee boot back to the traverse back for the gondola.
The recent fresh snow is really welcome. We have a Scottish Steep Skiing trip coming up and I was getting a bit worried that it would turn into more walking than skiing. However, this top up of snow will really help the runs and opens up more possible lines. If you've skied the back coires (Chancer, Yellow Belly, Cascades, Winger Wall) and you want to start to explore the next step up, this is the course for you. We'll start at Nevis Range and ski the back coires with tips on technique and assessment of the snow and avalanche hazard, followed by something like Summit Gully, Rush or even Easy Gully if it looks good. We'll then head into the mountains and find the best skiing we can on Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg, Creag Meagaidh or anywhere that looks good, building up confidence as we go. Get in touch if you'd like to come along!
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Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.