3 things are known for variable weather: Scotland, the Cairngorm plateau, and autumn. When you combine the 3, the outcome is rather unpredictable even on the day. After some lads were caught out rather ill-prepared the night before, there was hope for a window of opportunity with lower winds and summit visibility for Ben Macdui. So off I went on a calm, mild morning from the Ski Centre:
Autumn on the slopes by Thomas
Soon, it became clear that the winter on the plateau hadn't disappeared, with fresh dusting overnight:
Winter on the plateau by Thomas
Unfortunately, the window of good visibility never materialised. Instead, while the plateau itself was only mildly windy, the wind on Ben Macdui's summit plateau was ferocious, so hauling all that winter gear up the hill paid off and I was a little more comfortable than the lads must have been the night before
It was a fine experience: it was snowing and white and wintery, and although there was no view the visibility was ok and the snow on the ground didn't obscure cairns, scree and landmarks completely, making navigation straightforward. Whether I could have picked a better path sometimes is a different matter
Summit of Ben Macdui by Thomas
All in all, very pleasant example of a walk in less-than perfect weather that still had plenty of fun stuff. Too bad that ptarmigan are really difficult to see in snow
Miniature ice sculptures, Stob Coire an t-Sneachda, Cairngorm by Thomas
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.