50 on Macdui
by Alastair S » Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:01 am
Route description: Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm
Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui, Carn a'Mhaim, Derry Cairngorm
Date walked: 26/02/2011
Time taken: 9.3 hours
Distance: 33.5 km
Ascent: 1545m1 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Cycling: 11.0 km, 50 min, 78 m ascent
Had planned to do just the two (Carn a’Mhain & Ben Macdui) to take me nicely to my 50. But the recent snow melt meant the rivers were likely to be in spate and I didn’t fancy the crossing of the Luibeg that a decent of Ben Macdui down the Sron Riach ridge would entail. It didn’t take long in Memory Map to determine that adding on Derry Cairngorm would only add 1.5km and a couple of hundred metres of ascent. My mind was made up as I approached Braemar and I could just made out that the Dee was indeed in spate.
The forecast was for early rain to die off and for a glorious afternoon with a 70% chance of a cloud free summit. The first part was spot on as the rain I experienced on the drive up had abated by the time I pulled into the Linn of Dee car park at 7:00am. Was on my MTB by 7:15 and thinking: now have I got everything? Answer: no. Back for my water bottle & back on my way by 7:20.
The ride up Glen Luibeg was fine & ice free. Half an hour latter was locking up my bike behind the shed (Bob Scott’s?) next to a chap who had cycled up with skis on his back! He too was headed for Ben Macdui but via Glen Derry. Quite a bit of cloud about still but it was high & free of the local tops.
First View of Carn a'Mhain
Over the Luibeg Burn via the bridge to encounter the first patches of snow. Initially missed the turning for the path up Carn a’Mhain but it didn’t take long to find it as I made my way up. Even better blue sky was appearing. By the time I got to the southern top I was treated to fabulous views. Stopped here for some sustenance and to put on my crampons. Most the snow had been scoured off the top leaving large patches of ice. Ten minutes latter and number 49 was bagged. Even better views and a cloud free Ben Macdui awaited.
View South From Carn a'Mhain
Carn a'Mhain Southern Summit #1
Carn a'Mhain Southern Summit #2
Carn a'Mhain Southern Top Panorama
large version here
Ben Macdui From Carn a'Mhain
2nd, 3rd & 4th highest British mountains
large version here
The Devil's Point & Cairn Toul
The best bit of the day came next. The easy ridge north from Carn a’Mhain gives spectacular views along the Lairig Ghru that you don’t quite get from its summit.
Cairn Toul #1
The Lairig Ghru
large version here
Carn a'Mhaim Ridge
The Devil's Point
The Corrour bothy is just about visible on the larger version here
Cairn Toul #2 - Taken from about half way along the Carn a'Mhaim ridge at an elevation of 1015m.
Looking Back At Carn a'Mhaim - From near the Northern end of the Carn a'Mhaim ridge (aka Ceann Crionn Carn a' Mhaim)
I didn’t find the climb up Britain’s second highest mountain too bad – starting from 800m certainly helps . Stopped once for a rest & some more food and then again to re-attach crampons. Checked my GPS when I did the latter and was pleased to see I was at 1100m – which meant only another 150m to the plateau. However when I got there cloud was only just above me. Soon spotted the snowed over shelter and then the skier I'd seen at Derry Lodge making his way down. There were heaps of people around the summit, all of who had come from the Cairn Gorm side (judging by the way they all set off). Did snatch a view across the Lairig Ghru before the cloud settled in. Everyone else left as I had some lunch (not sure why ) so I had the summit to myself for a while, but I didn’t stay long as there was nothing to see & I had a long way to go yet.
Carn a'Mhaim From Ben Macdui
Ben Macdui Summit
Just needed to descend 100m to clear the clag so navigation then wasn’t a problem. Tried to bum slide my way off the plateau but the slope wasn’t quite steep enough. Did manage to use my walking poles to propel myself along a bit but the occasional patch of powder snow soon put paid to my efforts.
As I made my way towards Loch Etchachan the northerly wind was bringing in some dark snow laden clouds. Going got a bit post-holely at times but I kept my crampons on as I reckoned I’d need them on Derry Cairngorm. Just caught the edge of a big cloud that blew over Loch Avon (& made a good backdrop for a photo of the frozen Loch Etchachan).
Storm Over Loch Etchachan
Turning south to DC the meant the wind was now on my back so I wasn’t too bothered by the fairly light snow. It was here that I nearly lost my water bottle. Not having a platypus/camelback arrangement (not so great when its sub-zero) I had my Zigg bottle (just about suitable so long as its not too sub-zero) in an outer pocket of my sack. Rather than take the whole thing off I tend to just slip it off one arm and use the other to hold it in front of me. Which only leaves one arm to put in back in the rather tight pocket. On this occasion I dropped it and off it went with me in not so rapid pursuit – I’d drunk all my tea & that last of my water was in the bottle. Luckily it caught in some rocks 300-400m away. Given the terrain & the wind it could have ended up at the bottom of the Sron Riach ridge . Hence the jag in my route on the map.
Going up DC was a bit boring as the clag restricted my views (& the best was behind me anyway). Topped out on #51 about 2:15. Met a couple of folk who had been staying at the Hutchinson hut & where debating where to camp for the night. Luckily I got a gap in the snow showers on the summit so was able to take a couple of nice snaps. Still had my crampons on at this stage despite the odd rocky bits as there was a lot of ice mixed in with the rocks. Descending DC I manage a good 400m bum slide which I only brought to a halt as it was starting to take me directly into Glen Derry.
Carn a'Mhaim (& Beyond) From Derry Cairngorm
By now the flurry was starting to turn into a blizzard and previously brown patches of ground were turning grey. So it was off with the crampons, camera in the sack, another bite to eat and I hurried on. The heavy snow only lasted for half an hour in the end and so I was in luck again to get to the top of Carn Corm in benign conditions. I was then treated to half an hour of lovely sunshine as I made my way along the excellent path before the next shower caught me as I got to the woods above Derry Lodge. Negotiated the wet tree roots (easily as slippery as ice!) through the woods as the snow turned to sleet. Bike was all present and correct at Derry Lodge and once sorted was back in the car park 20 minutes latter - & wetter – the sleet was now rain.
Looking North From Carn Crom
The Long And Winding Road (That Isn't A Road And Isn't That Winding)
I was well pleased with my day despite the un-forecast snow & rain (by Braemar it had all cleared up of course). Wasn't too knacked the next day either. Maybe something to do with the fact that I took & used more energy gels than I've done before. Easy to keep them in your pocket & consume on the move. Think I used 4 or 5.
Now that I'm past my age in Munros all I have to do is keep apace with the years till I'm 283
A few more photos in the Flickr set over here, with a few more to come.
by ChrisW » Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:17 am
by LeithySuburbs » Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:20 am
by Left Behind » Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:43 am
Glad to see the approach to DL is ice free now, it's a real pain in the bum to get on and off your bike every 2 minutes.
Great pics also.
- Posts: 79
- Joined: Jan 24, 2011
- Location: Aberdeenshire
by Stretch » Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:35 am
by rockhopper » Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:58 pm
by Graeme D » Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:00 pm
by Jockstar » Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:08 pm
And well recovered on your water bottle moment...very honest of you to tell the tale!
by Alastair S » Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:20 pm
I've now added a few more to the flickr set including this one taken from the Corbett top of Carn Corm, showing its parent peak, Derry Cairngorm, in the middle & disappearing into the clouds on the left is Sron Riach, a top of Ben Macdui.
by SouthernUplandKing » Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:30 pm
- Mountain Walker
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by soulminer » Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:23 pm
Great report and some cracking photos, especially Cairn A' Mhaim from Macdui
Only did Dc and CaM loop, but in the clag But I did know it looked magestic and the pics confirm it
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- Location: Johnstone
by yokehead » Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:38 pm
Superb photos, absolutely stunning and great atmosphere I see from your flickr collection which camera you're using, did you have a filter or use software to get such vibrancy and colour? Superb again!
by Johnny Corbett » Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:42 pm