Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Cairngorm 4000ers, June'13

I do like back-packing trips ! Evenmoreso when there's a specific objective like this weekend - bagging all the Cairngorm 4000 ft summits !

I met up with Nick, Charles and Karl at the Cairngorm Ski Centre and we got our gear together. Instead of following the ski run up to the Ptarmigan Station, we took the Sron an Aonaich path - a finer route, well maintained and with excellent views. Beyond the station, the route to Cairngorm's summit couldn't be any simpler, just follow the rope, then cairns to the summit. We timed it right, the weather station performed its air sampling just after we arrived ! The weather was clear and the views were vast today.

We left Cairngorm behind and proceeded to Stob Coire an t-Sneachda, where we were overtaken by some mountain-bikers. Up Cairn Lochain, we watched other folk coming up the easy scrambling on the northern ridge, while we snapped away taking photos of the impressive cliffs. Turning southwards, we followed the path to Lochan Buidhe and stopped for lunch.

The grey hulk of Ben Macdui loomed ahead, patches of snow remaining to slow us down on route. Some ptarmigan fluttered for our amusement on the way and we duly got our cameras out for them. It didn't take long to reach the summit, where we stayed for a fair time, taking in the views and watching a couple of snow-bunting hover around looking for scraps.

Carn a'Mhaim was an option for the day. Although it's a Munro, it's less than 4000 feet and appears very small standing next to its higher neighbours. Karl decided to skip this one and have a nap by a small lochan. Myself and the others dropped our rucksacks and followed the ridge to the summit and back.

At last, all that remained for today was to descend to Corrour Bothy. A rough heather descent at that ! Tent's pitched, food in, it was time for beddy-byes !

We awoke the next day to thick mist and still conditions. No midgies, which was a surprise ! I was fair excited - the conditions meant only one thing - an inversion from the peaks above. But only if we moved quickly, or by the time we got up there, the inversion would have burned off ! Karl decided he'd like to walk out back through the Lairig Ghru, something everyone should experience I think ! Nick, Charles and myself, all packed, headed up the path behind the bothy. Like Carn a'Mhaim, the Devil's Point is a Munro, but considerably under the magic 4000feet height. However, the views are impressive from the summit, so we dropped our rucksacks off at the col and aimed over there being rewarded with the most magnificent view of peaks poking through the cloud !

Turning north, we picked up our sacks and continued on grassy slopes. We could see a lone reindeer on a patch of snow ahead. The inversion was burning off quickly and by the time we were up the minor peak before Cairn Toul, it had completely gone. We progressed over Cairn Toul, meeting the occasional person or couple and picked our way over boulders and one or two patches of snow. Charles needed a bit of a sprint, and he headed to Carn na Ciche on his own - by the time Nick and myself caught him up, he had the jetboil out and had made himself a brew and heated a sausage stew !!!

The Wells of Dee were still under a fair bit of snow and we gathered here for a break before the last major uphill of the day - Braeraich. Up to the summit, the views were quite awesome - framed by the impressive cliffs below. All that was left was to return. We picked up the path over Sron na Lairige and dropped to the Lairig Ghru, saying hello to a group of guys doing path repair lower down. In the Lairig, we decided to split since the route back was obvious - this gave me the chance to jog and drive the Land-Rover back to the lower car-park to save the guys the trudge back up to the higher car-park where there cars were.

All in all a brilliant weekend, fine company, great weather and superb views !

More photos are on our Flickr page !