Sunday, 22 December 2019 00:18

Skin Up to and Ski Off the Cairngorm

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For a while now I have wanted to ski tour, finally I managed to get the gear together to be able to!

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So I headed for the Cairngorm, I had seen some of the photos on the British Backcountry Facebook group and I was looking forward to it. I arrived a bit late so I wasn’t going to go far, I made my way up the track of one of the ski tow routes, then on the zig zags, up to the Ptarmigan café (which was shut) then up to the weather station on Cairngorm summit.

I met a group of 3 on their way down as I was going up the zig zags, one of them told me “It’s windy up there!” Fortunately I am prepared for that type of weather, if I were them I would have questioned me going up that late. As you will see from the video, it was a bit breezy and not much to see but I enjoyed it.

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Once I had some food and a drink, I realised it was five past three! The light would be limited in the next hour. As you can see, I was like bambi on skis for the return leg! I found that the wider ski was a bit harder to carve whilst on the hard piste. The learning curve (or carve) will be steep (or wide). I stumbled down to the car park in around an hour.

The pants I used were an older version of the Jöttnar Vanir LT’s that I reviewed a while back. Now Jöttnar are using there own fabric, Skjoldr. Which is in the Odin hardshell I wore on the way back down, there will be a review in the near future.

I did wear sunglasses at the beginning as it kept the wind out of my eyes, goggles seemed a bit much. The Reactiv lens on the Julbo Shields works as well in the dim light of that day as it does in the bright sunlight of the Alps in the summer.

My gloves are the Montane Alpine Guide, which are a velcro cuffed variant of the gauntlet style Alpha glove I reviewed. Kept my hands warm even when they got a “bit” damp.

The pack I had was the Blue Ice Warthog, really impressed with it. Well shaped, good size, the helmet holder is a great addition. Review on its way.

The Mountain Hardwear Kor Strata Alpine, I wore on the way up, never fails to impress. The review is here. It kept my temperature to a constant during the stop-start of the way up. I did change it on the summit as I had allowed it to get a bit wet and I’d taken another layer. If I’d stuck the shell on it would have been fine and kept me warm regardless.

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon Strong poles have been great! We have reviewed the Micro Vario Carbons on MyOutdoors, I got the strong version as I broke the standard ones twice! Not through any fault of my own you understand.

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The bindings are Marker Kingpin 13’s and I got a pair of last season Dynafit Speedfit TLT touring boots. My technique, both up and down, needs some work but I’ve got some experts that I’m waiting to critique me. The boots have more flex than I am used to at the moment but the plan is to climb with them in the future. I was advised to start with this type so I’d get used to them. It makes sense to me, I’ll let you know how I get on.