Finlay Wild

Finlay Wild
Hill runner, mountaineer, skier
Supported by Norman Walsh Footwear and Mountain Equipment

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Heading East

This weekend I had a couple of good days out. Although the weather wasn't great it was brilliant to see the hills looking much whiter.

On Sunday I skied in the Cairngorms with James W. It was fairly windy with clag and a predicted wee window of clearer weather around noon. We managed to coincide this clearing with getting to The Saddle between Cairngorm and Bynack Mor, for great views of a snowy Shelterstone and a mostly frozen Loch Avon.

The ski down to The Saddle was actually pretty rocky and scoured, but at least it was a safe slope - with this much fresh snow around we were thinking carefully about which aspects to ski, especially when visibility wasn't great either. Going up Bynack Mor was rocky initially but skin-able and then the snow improved. We skied down Allt a Choire Dhuibh with some comedy snow topped heather skiing down into Strath Nethy, then back up and over west to the Ciste car park, with a few minor but illuminating navigational issues.

Skiing down Allt a Choire Dhuibh
In Strath Nethy

Technical Issues
On the final descent one of my new bindings was playing up - it kept releasing at the back piece despite being clipped into downhill mode. This wasn't such an issue immediately as, well, the skiing wasn't that great in heathery hummocks with not (yet) enough base. But it was more of a concern in general, as effectively made the ski useless for proper downhill use.

Back in Aviemore I headed to Mountain Spirit to consult with the guys about what could be going on. My Dynafit Low Tech Race Auto 2.0 bindings are pretty new to the market, so a bit of an unknown, and they don't come with much mounting info. We eventually worked out that probably a crucial metal bar should be mounted the other way round - so hopefully it was just a quick fix.

Rear part of binding showing the metal bar which was initially mounted the other way up.

I will try and clarify this with Dynafit as one picture on their website shows a pair of bindings with the crucial metal bar mounted a different way round on each binding! Presumably the way it is now mounted is far more robust as it holds the plastic rear piece in place solidly.

If you are interested, look at the picture of the pair of bindings on this page, zoom in and compare the bar position on each binding and you will see it's different.

With a fixed ski and a Monday off I debated what to do. There is more snow east currently and I was already half way there from Fort William. With an optimistic eye at the forecast it looked like it could possibly turn good over Lochnagar way. I had seen a glimpse of Beinn A'Bhuird direction from The Saddle which looked plastered. The only concern was that it seemed a few degrees warmer than forecasted - maybe this was a sign that the weather wasn't going to play ball.

Monday morning was snowy and a bit damp. I set off with the first light from Loch Muick up the climbers path towards Lochagar. I managed to get my skis on low down, just after coming out of the forest.

I hoped the weather would clear and I could get up onto the plateau and continue around in a big day loop but sadly the wind increased and the weather just got worse. At around 1050m going up Lochnagar from the Lochnagar-Meikle Pap col I decided to call it a day as I couldn't see much except the thin line of the cliff edge. It was getting gusty with no sign of clearing. Heading down there was lots of deep fluffy snow around, but I had to avoid it as I couldn't see without the rocks to guide me! Skiing down my binding worked fine and I think the problem is now fixed. The hills are staying white this week and the weather looks good for next weekend!

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