The second club Igloo trip of the season was held on the eastern slopes of Cairngorm Mountain overlooking Strath Nethy. The site was chosen to allow less active members easy access via the funicular railway and ski area. The rest of the group parked at Coire na Ciste car park and skinned up the Ciste gully to reach the build site.
File comment: Skins on skis for plod up the gulley
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The weather gods were on our side yet again and we had light winds and glorious sunshine at 3,500ft. Conditions were so good we soon had the primus stove going and tea and bacon rolls produced for the workforce! The snow had a hard surface frost layer but beneath that there was large crystalline sugar. Temperatures were about 32 Farenheit and with the sunshine I was worried we might have a repeat of last April with melting.
File comment: The group enjoying the winter sunshine
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There were eight of us on site with only my self and Mike having experience of previous Igloo building. After producing the first layer of blocks for a 9ft Igloo I took a supervising role and let construction continue with very little intervention until the 6th layer.
File comment: The start with beginners doing well
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File comment: The walls growing quickly with dense crystalline snow
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The Igloo took just over four hours to build partly due to time taken to instruct and allowing for tea breaks. The afternoon sun did soften the walls a shade was set up to help harden the walls as the temperature was below freezing point. Three of us had opted to sleep overnight and the other five left before the Igloo was complete to back down before conditions on the slopes became too icy. Mike and John went for a short ski in the evening sunshine just after completing the Igloo while I tidied the site and set up cooking arrangements in the Igloo and fitted the door.
File comment: Sun setting with Mike and John returning from tour
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The arrangement for three people in a 9ft Igloo were made a little easier by not extending the entrance trench too far in to the Igloo. With the temperature dropping the outside of the Igloo was very hard but the warmth from cooking kept the inside above freezing and the snow slighly soft on the walls. It was a comfortable shelter despite the occassional piece of Igloo brushing from the walls and we all slept well. THe door did not seal the draft completely but with good sleeping bags this just provided a refreshing ventilation during the night. The clear moonless sky provided a star watchers paradise and the call of nature at 4 in the morning was rewarded by a wonderful sky full of stars in a completely clear sky. The cold night made the Igloo hard enough to climb with an Ice Ax the next morning to pose for photographs.
File comment: The complete Igloo with Cairngorm Mountain in the background
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File comment: Mike struggling down from the top!
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We enjoyed more bacon rolls for breakfast before packing up and heading up the mountain to the summit.
File comment: Leaving fo rthe summit of Cairngorm
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The weather was windier and cloud in the valley and to the west looked thick but the sun was shinning and surface conditions were very icy with thick hoar frost on the surface. Views from the summit provided a great reward for minimal effort.
File comment: Summit views south west to Ben Macduie
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File comment: Summit view west to Carn Lochan
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