Hills: Cairnwell, Carn a’Gheoidh, Carn Aosda
Date: 29 November 2008
Company: Myself and Malcolm
Time: 4hrs 30mins

Having completed these hills three times previously, I have to admit that prior to setting off this morning, I wasn’t 100% looking forward to a fourth ascent of what I had always found previously to be quite dull hills. We set off from home this morning with the temperature on the car thermometer reading -6.5C. En-route to Glen Shee, the temperature dropped a further four degrees to -10.5C (in Glenkindie). By the time we reached Glen Shee it was relatively 'hot' at only -4C. We set off up the frosty grass slopes of Cairnwell. On reaching some steep compact snow we spent some time cutting steps, kicking steps and ice-axe arresting.

Glen Shee Ski Centre from lower slopes of Cairnwell:

Malcolm ascending Cairnwell:

After we finishing ‘playing’ in the snow, it didn’t take us long to reach the wide ridge.

Myself on Cairnwell ridge:

The array of masts situated at the Cairnwell summit, as well as all the ski tows on the lower slopes, are quite unsightly. However, putting that aside the views into the Cairngorms and the views of the Grampian hills were today quite stunning.

Final ascent to Cairnwell summit:

A temperature inversion was clouding a number of the surrounding glens with snowy peaks and blue skies above.

Cairngorms above inversion and rainbows:

The summit of Cairnwell was cold and frosty. We didn't hang about long.

Malcolm at frosty Cairnwell summit:

Looking across to Carn a’Gheoidh:

From Cairnwell we skirted Coire Direach ascending to the top, Carn nan Sac.

Looking back to Cairnwell summit:

Malcolm at Carn nan Sac:

We had a food-stop at Carn nan Sac where I downed a flask of home-made soup while enjoying spectacular 360 degree views.

Carn Aosda and Lochnagar horseshoe hills:

Long shadows, inversion and the Gorms:

Cairngorms panorama:

Looking from Carn nan Sac to summit of Carn a’Gheoidh:

It didn't take long to get from Carn nan Sac to the summit of Carn a’Gheoidh, however, on reaching the summit views were non-existant thanks to some passing cloud.

Myself at summit of Carn a’Gheoidh:

Fortunately the passing cloud, soon passed, as we made our way from Carn a’Gheoidh round past Loch Vrotachan and on towards our third and final Munro of the day Carn Aosda.

A semi-frozen Loch Vrotachan:

Carn Aosda:

We ascended Carn Aosda, sticking to compact snow where possible.

Approaching summit of Carn Aosda:

The wooden fences were covered in wind-blown ice crystals.

Rime frost:

At the summit we enjoyed some real Cairngorm close-ups thanks to Malcolm's binoculars.

More inversion:

Malcolm at summit of Carn Aosda:

We descended rapidly via a ski slope leading directly to the Ski Centre. A combination of the right weather, conditions and company can make even quite dull hills wonderful.