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Jason Bonniface,

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

28th Feb 2010 - Ben Loyal Ski Tour

Ben Loyal is not my favourite hill, whoever suggested the description "the Queen of Scottish Hills" or some such phrase had a different outlook from me. To my mind neighbouring Ben Hope is a far superior hill, but then, I'm probably its biggest fan. There was, however, a load of snow about on the 28th Feb and I needed something close to a ploughed road, and a ski tour of Ben Loyal had crossed my mind before. Ben Loyal surely couldn't get any better than under almost complete snow cover? I decided to start from the southern end of the mountain and make for the summit, An Caisteal, via Carn an Tionail. There are photos, a map and some description of the day below:
Lettermore on the east side of Ben Loyal with the rising sun lighting the summit ridge
My starting point near Inchkinloch
My route on to and off Ben Loyal's main ridge. I skinned past Loch na Beiste making for the south-east flank of Carn an Tionail.
The summit of Ben Loyal, An Caisteal, a wonderful granite tor (despite my earlier comments)
Ben Loyal or Mont Blanc?
Ben Hope from the summit of Ben Loyal
.....and a more detailed view of Ben Hope's wild eastern corries
  I hadn't planned on visiting the 558m Cnoc nan Cuilean but on the approach from the south its snow smothered south-western slopes looked amazing and I had to ski them on the way back south from Ben Loyal. 
A pleasant descent from Carn an Tionail spoilt near the top by icey sastrugi
Cnoc nan Cuilean. Its snowy south west side on the right
Back to Ben Loyal from the foot of the Cnoc
Beautifully patterned sastrugi at just 450m altitude on Cnoc nan Cuilean
Ben Klibreck
Plenty of windslab
East from Cnoc nan Cuilean across Sutherland to Ben Griam Mor and Beg
Nice powder on the ski descent of Cnoc nan Cuilean
Ben Loyal from the Kyle of Tongue causeway later in the afternoon
All in all a very special day!
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Jason Bonniface, 23/03/2010


Friday, 19 March 2010

27th Feb 2010 - St Johns Pt, Mey, Caithness

Saturday morning and I needed a bit of fresh air. I've been meaning to get to St John's Point near Mey (a few miles west of John O' Groats) for a while. This Saturday was cold and overcast with a leaden sky, not exactly lending itself to great photos, but there were loads of seagulls swooping close into the cliffs at the point and as I made my way back along the coast a pile of bones which I presume belonged to a whale.
Location of St John's Point
A beady eyed gull swoops past

Whale remains with Dunnet Head in the distance
Coming soon.... A ski tour of Ben Loyal on the 28th Feb.
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Prints of all Scotland-Landscapes photos are available from Photobox.
Jason Bonniface, 19/03/2010

Friday, 12 March 2010

10-12th Feb 2010 - Cairngorm Skiing

Whilst Granny & Grandad moved north to look after the kids, Karen & I sped south for several days of skiing at Cairngorm. Pisted skiing, lift queues, and paying to be on the mountain aren't my ideal. but Karen has got right into skiing over the last few years so its a great excuse to at least be in the hills.

The weather these 3 days was mixed, with poor visibilty in particular on the 11th, but stunning clear periods on the afternoons of Weds 10th and Fri 12th when these photos were taken, and with low temperatures and light snow each night the snow was fantastic by Friday.

Weds afternoon was spent on the East Wall of the Ciste Gulley, where there was some powder on a firm base. These photos were taken from the east side of the Ptarmigan Bowl:

Cairngorm Mountain employees working hard

A view over the Ptarmigan Bowl across the mouths of the Northern Corries to the Glen Feshie hills

On the Friday afternoon I skinned up from the top of the Ptarmigan tow to the summit of Cairngorm, emerging into the sun just below the summit to be greeted by dream like scenes of snow, sun and blue skies. I didn't have long, being under instruction to meet Karen after her lesson but got a ski down to about 950m in Coire Raibert before skinning back up to Cairngorm and then descending north and then west back into Coire Cas.

Cairngorm Weather Station with a light coating of rime

A skier arrives on the summit from the west

Amazing powder on the way down into Coire Raibert

Across to Ben Macdui wreathed in snow

Coire an t-Sneachda and the Fiacaill Ridge from the slopes of Cairngorm

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Prints of all Scotland-Landscapes photos are available from Photobox.

Jason Bonniface, 12/03/2010

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

31/01/10 - A Ski Tour Of Arkle

At the end of January I managed to get in a wee ski on Arkle, Northern Sutherland. Route and photos follow:

The route - The start is at the A838 just north of Achfary. A private road then track lead to Lone where paths split and the northerly one heads north-east towards the Bealach Horn. At around 200m fairly gentle slopes lead north towards Arkle's southern top (758m). Slopes either side of the stream held progressively more snow as height was gained giving good ground for a ski ascent. From the southern top a fairly steep and icey descent lead down to the col at the head of Coir Uairidh (skis carried for this descent and left at the col). To the west and then north an interesting ridge with a touch of easy scrambling leads round to the main summit of Arkle. The descent from the col was icey and wind scoured initially then on powdery windslab and then just thin powder on a firm base as the gully deepened lower down. It gave an excellent ski to 400m (300m vertical drop). Probably the top section would be black run steepness but becoming more like a red then blue lower down. After a carry of the skis across the lower moor there was just enough snow to ski back along the track all the way to the car (though I carried in in the morning).

Welcome to Arkle - a morning snow shower.

The abominable photographer on the ascent of Arkle's southern flank.

The snowfields south of Arkle's southern top at around 650m. The southern slopes would give a pleasant ski descent as well but without the interest of Coir Uairidh.

The view south with Meallan a' Chuil in the centre, Beinn Leoid to the right with Ben More Assynt & Conival rising above and behind on the right.

Foinaven from Arkle's southern top.

The route of descent taken in very strong winds with snow and spindrift whipping around. It was difficult to stand on this section, certainly not helped by skis acting as a sail on my back!

Snow showers approaching from the north-west.

.....and departing to the south-east from Arkle's main summit.

South down the summit ridge with Loch Stack glistening in the sun.

Great skiing on the descent of Coir Uairidh.

Arkle in the mid afternoon from the road at Loch Stack.

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Prints of all all Scotland-Landscapes photos are available from Photobox.

Jason Bonniface, 10/03/2010

Saturday, 6 March 2010

First post so there's something here until I can get up and running properly (the kids need their breakfast!)

Two of my favourite photos from autumn 2009, Lord Reay's seat on Foinaven, Northern Sutherland and A' Cheir Ghorm and Ben Hope from Foinaven.
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Prints of all all Scotland-Landscapes photos are available from Photobox.

Jason Bonniface, 10/03/2010