Packed a bit more for Aviemore. Lugged the bags to Euston and met up with Carolin and Sue in the Britannia, everyone arrived in good time and we set off for the train, At the very last second we were joined by sally. I shared a room with Geoff which was fine. We popped along to the rather tiny buffet car and then had a party in the corridor listening to Matt's music. Probably went to bed about 1 am and surprisingly got quite a good nights sleep.
Arrived in good time got a lift with the local women to the house then got ready to go to ice climbing. Myself, Daniel, Carolin and Adam went tot the local visitor centre and sheltered from the snow. The G2 guys arrived and we went back to there lock up, but the conditions on the weather forecast said it would be 75 mph winds which would have meant we wouldn't have been able to stand up. So we postponed till Sunday. We got back to the house and I went off for a circular walk in the snow, checking out the Hilton and meeting Marcos and Matt and Carlos on the way to skiing. After a three hour walk I got back to the house then lots of us set off for the Cairngorn hotel for a lunch then myself Geoff and Carolin went off for the indoor climbing wall and got a bit of practice in. There were some good overhangs that were challenging. We stopped for coffee and got a bit snowed on as the force of the wind blew snow into the centre, so needles to say we got a taxi back to the house. In the evening we walked back into town. After a bit of indecision we all managed to get into a curry house and have a nice curry or a mixed grill in Simon's case.
We spent some time then in the Cairngorn Hotel which had an accordion player and some very drunk locals. We were even treated to a bit of dancing from Matt and Carolin.
Up early and we all walked into the RDs dinner to meet the guys doing the rafting. We were all a bit trepidatious as it was snowing pretty wildly but after a half an hours journey in a minibus we had descended to were there was no snow and we were protected from the wind. We got into two wet suits longjohns and two jackets plus thermals, luckily my neoprene socks plus boots proved effective and I remained toasty. We were lucky in our boat as only Marc fell in when we rammed the other boat that was jammed aground. Though Sue and Matt jumped in voluntarily from a leap point. The other boat lost a couple of folks at one point then lost the whole thing. They looked cold but not as bad as expected. The helmet cam managed to capture a good bit of the action. We were going for a good couple of hours and were a bit chilled when we got out at the end, but a brisk push of the raft back to the vans got us warmed up, a quick change in the open air then and we were off to the house. We got back to find that Marcos who had been unwell so not come along had made tea and sandwiches for us all which was good of him. We had a few goes of table climbing then we were out again fairly quickly we all went in the old bridge inn which had dark island beer, but half stayed there and I moved on to join Simon and Stu and the others at the Happy Haggis. Were I had a takeaway battered haggis then joined the others for a Nessies mash beer. We pushed on from there to Café Mambo which had a 4 piece band playing that was quite good. We had some beers and some jaggermeister and danced and jumped along to the band. I continued on with folks to the vault nightclub, but the fact that the cloakroom was unattended and a lot of the patrons seemed about 15 put me off so I walked home early picking up some sugar and a local paper from the garage on the way.
Up early and some breakfast. Carolin, Daniel and Adam were all up bright and early and the G2 guys came round and picked us up in their van. We drove back to their lock up and got out the ice axes and kit to carry. I borrowed some of their gloves rather than use my own and we got our boots from the hire shop. Then off to the ski lifts. We didn't take the lifts up we trekked up from the start. A blizzard was already blowing and you couldn't see very far. Luckily the guide went first and we could plant our footsteps in theirs as the snow as quite deep, This was harder for Carolin who only had size 4 feet so she sank in more and couldn't match our stride pattern. The hail was pretty biting at the start even at this low level. We walked a while in complete whiteness our only sense of movement when we found and passed other folks. We got a bit higher and a bit of shelter and then practiced our technical skills. What to do in the event off falling etc, this resulted in quite a comical backward roll at one point. We then pushed up into a gully. We were all lashed together at this point and the guys would climb ahead cut a ledge then take a belay stance while we climbed up, myself with Carolin and Adam with Daniel. It was very cold minus 25 apparently, but as long as I had both gloves on and didn't look into the wind I wasn't too bad. There were a number of pitches necessary to get to the top of the gully, and then the wind and the wind chill factor really kicked in. We quickly made a move to get out of the wind, even so my face mask had iced up and then I couldn't see as my breath froze against my goggles so I had to continuously scrape the ice away as well as shield my face from the hail. A number of times we came close to precipes we couldn't see and had to wait for the guides to check out the edges whilst we stood stock still. Eventually we got down to more sheltered areas and only had to worry about dodging the hardy snowboarders and skiers then into the café for well earned hot chocolate and cake.
When we got back to the house we found that we had no heating, but Marco managed to organise some electric fires. We all walked to the end of the road then and went to the pizza restaurant. I had the buffet to try out a number of the different pizzas, which were quite good. The others went back to the house then after the meal. Myself, Simon, Matt and Sue carried on then to the Winking owl and the 2 hoots club. We had a stout to start with then Simon got me a whiskey so I had to get a sheepshagger to take the taste away. There was a bit of an altercation between the locals when one of the women started beating up a bloke. But it was round the corner and I only heard it we caught a taxi back to the house as it was snowing again.
Despite lack of heating the room was plenty warm at night got up thinking might have gone climbing, but Geoff's shoulder was hurting him, went into town however and bought a replacement hat for the one ruined ice climbing, also had a sausage roll and listened to my ipod a bit. Got back in and watched some telly before going out again in the snow to do some quad biking. There seven of us. Myself and Simon were gunning for first place at the start with Marco and Mat. But the we started to go to the back to set up some gaps so we could go fast the course was quite technical and at one point I came close to a tree, Matt managed not to crash despite his best efforts, but Simon managed to lose a chain and needed a list back. While we were waiting for Simon to be rescued we had a snowball fight and Marcos took a lovely shot to the face in the dying moments. Afterwards to stopped for mulled cider at the visitors centre and stayed for a couple of drinks with Carolin and sally who had been their since dogsledding. Back to the house then and quickly packed and the boys walked into town for a very nice meal at the Cairngorn hotel. The train was a bit late but at least it stopped me drinking more beer.