Martin, Martina, Charlie and I were up early and heading from Braemar to Glen Muick, where we could begin the 7km walk into Lochnagar. The morning brought a pink sunrise and cold, crisp air as we walked along the icy path that would lead us to the corrie and our first winter climbing of the season.
Martin and I took a look at Raeburn’s Gully but the broad opening at its base was such hard going in the deep snow that we chose to climb Central Buttress instead. An easy solo up a gully took us to some wonderful frozen turf that gave a satisfying thud with each swing of our ice tools.
Reaching the rocky crest of the buttress, the climbing was varied and challenging with some great positions. Feeling the effects of our marathon journey the previous night as a strong blizzard engulfed the mountain, we decided to abseil back into the corrie and begin the long walk back.
Taking photos was the furthest thing from my mind as the storm blew hard into our faces and stung our eyes. In the fading light we reached the col above the corrie and followed a compass bearing into the misty darkness to reach the main path back to the car.
The falling snow had mercifully covered the extensive patches of ice along the trail and we finished tired but satisfied with a good return to the Scottish winter.