There was much anticipation in the weeks leading up to the Easter Scottish MMC meet as right up to 10 days before there were full winter conditions. However it had warmed up quite a bit in those 10 days but still lots of snow and ice on the higher parts of the Cairngorms.
Xin, Kasim, and Margaret arrived early on Thursday evening to find that the MMC had booked us a comfortable, delightful, long, one story hut, open plan living room and kitchen, excellent drying room, in its own land, lovely setting and a short walk round the hill from the car parking area. Margaret got the wood burning stove going and eventually Simon, Sarah and Caroline arrived. Everyone got up early to sunshine the next day, had breakfast together and admired the views from the garden before setting out in three groups.
Xin and Kasim went for some forest and hill hiking in the Loch Morlich area, through the Ryvoan pass, ending with a summit of Meall a’ Bhuachaille. Escaping the increasingly strong wind, they finished off with tea and cake at the Glenmore lodge.
Meanwhile Margaret and Sarah had a lovely walk with great views towards the Coire an Lochain shoulder and also retreated from the strong winds this time to the ski lift café.
Adriano and Anna endured a long journey by overnight coach from London to Aviemore and, after strong coffee in the first café they could find, found their way to the hut, went out to explore the area and the pub, and to talk with lots of local people. Someone gave them vast quantities of fire wood which somehow they got to the hut. Adriano also made hut improvements adding two comfortable footstools to the garden benches. Milia arrived by train in the evening, by which time the hut was very cosy.
Simon and Caroline went to climb Aladdin’s Cove but then descended to walk round Loch Morlich.
The forecast for Saturday was terrible. Intrepid on their first MMC meet Xin, Milia and Kasim took a winter skills course in 50 mph winds, with zero visibility and in constant rain and sleet, turning them from winter totally new mountaineers to seasoned veterans in record time. They even came back smiling and laughing! Lucky that we had a great drying room.
The rest of the group did a 5 hour walk round Loch an Eileen.
On Sunday the weather was again sunny and bright but the forecast was for blizzards and high winds in the afternoon. Two groups set off on the mountain again both thinking that they would have to retreat. On the mountain the in strong winds the weather stayed good enough for both parties to enjoy a fantastic day out in full winter conditions.
Xin, Milia, Kasim and Sarah walked up to Coire an Lochain. From there they climbed a number of icy slopes and finished with a good winter scramble up to the top of Ficaill Coire an T-Sneachda, from where they could see the second expedition doing the ridge traverse in the distance. The walk was straight-forward but one problem: the expedition claimed Kasim’s rain trousers (after some delicate crampon work), but everyone made it back safely and in excellent spirits. They descended by the ridge and returned to the hut for some well-deserved drinks and another cosy evening.
Simon, Caroline, Anna and Adriano set off for a full winter day up to the Summit of the Cairngorm via Coire an Lochan. They didn’t know that Zin photographed them several times on the ridges on her camera. They enthusiastically practiced ice axe arrests both on the way up and down.
The final day Monday was lovely in the morning, warmer and dry. We packed up, cleaned the hut and made our way home. Anna and Adriano had an uneventful bus ride back to London in spite of the massive storm that had stayed further south.
The MMC Scottish meet 2016 was a great winter meet and everyone experienced the sheer joy of being on a physically challenging, lively and fun club meet in a cosy hut in full winter mountain conditions.