Sunday, 23 March 2014

Lochnagar, March'14

A day of complete contrasts !

By the waterfalls

On the way to Cac Carn Mor
On a cold morning with a fair breeze, 6 of us met at the end of the public road in Glen Muick. Gear organised, ensuring each of us were carrying winter kit including crampons and ice-axe, we started on the walk in. The sun was shining as we walked towards the eastern end of Loch Muick. On most of the hikes we organise here, we head up the the east shoulder of Lochnagar, however with the winds forecasted for today, we decided to head up on the path by the waterfalls above the western end of Loch Muick - and what a cracking route to take ! An hour and a half into our walk we reached the foot of the waterfall and decided to have our elevensies and enjoy the view.

Being blasted by ice on Lochngar
Rucksacks back on, we sauntered uphill on the path. As the ground levelled out, we reached the snowline and broke steps onwards. Some interesting breaks in the snow were gouged by the river underneath, so we progressed with care ! Up to Lochnagar's Cac Carn Mor, the wind was now being blasted over the tops. The last few hundred metres to the summit were tricky the gusts heading over from the west were carrying ice, exfoliating us as we gingerly made our way to Lochnagar's summit tor. A touch of the trig, we then sheltered behind the rocks and tucked into lunch.

Heading to Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach
Back into the icy gusts, we returned to Cac Carn Mor, then south-west to our next Munro - Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach. The wind subsided a bit and the mist on the summit lifted just as we arrived giving us some great views.

Two Munros done !
Two of the group planned only to walk this far, so we waved goodbye to them and after a few poses for the camera, off they went back down to the waterfalls and then Loch Muick. The rest of us headed westwards to our outermost peak on the day, Carn an t-Saigairt Mor. Snow cover made for rapid descent, then slow uphill progress. Up to the two cairns on the hill's crest, the group just wanted the summit cairn, whereas I wanted to find the section of crashed airplane wing. Having found it, there was something wrong - was this a different section that I hadn't seen before ? Nope, the same section, but within the last year since we'd last been out here, a strong north-westerly wind has flipped the wing over - I only found this out upon my return home and compared photos. That would have been some wind !

One of the several hares bounding around
After some posing for the cameras on the summit, we turned south and started the walk back to Loch Muick. But we still had two Munros to go ! We bumped into a group of 4 folk - a mountain rescue team out training who thought we were the other half of their group. I guess they didn't expect to see anyone else mad enough to be out today, mind you, neither did we ! Up to Broad Cairn, mist down, the wind really blasting us. We couldn't stand up for the last few steps to the summit - my wind-meter recorded 85mph+ gusts !

More photos and compass out for navigation through whiteouts. The mist lifted for the last ascent of the day and the wind dropped a bit too. Up to Cairn Bannoch, we were rewarded for our efforts with some fine views, picking out Mount Keen and Jocks Road.

Nearing Carn an t-Saigairt Mor
The descent off this hill is usually a tiresome careful tread over boulderfield. Today with the decent snow cover, it was a doddle ! Onto a track, we reached the pony shelter on the plateau and enjoyed one last break to down the last of our hot drinks (ok, tepid by now) and what food we had left. On the path, apart from one steep patch of snow, progress was a pleasant walk with the loch below and ahead of us. We reached our cars as the last of the day's light began to disappear, pretty chuffed in what we had achieved.

Route is on Strava.

More photos are on our Flickr pages.