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Mayday in the Caingorms - Ben MacDui & Cairn Gorm

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 1:50 pm
by jwramsay
Monday 2nd May 2011, Mayday bank holiday. Peter and I arrived at the carpark at the Cairgorms Ski Centre at around 8am. This was right in the middle of the dry spell that was causing wild fires all over Scotland.

Looking great for a traverse of Ben MacDui and Cairn Gorm, view from Loch Morlich:
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The day was forecast as sunny with excellent visibility. Having completed the Lochnagar circuit of 5 munros a few days previous, we were looking forward to bagging another pair and had selected Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm as today's candidates. Armed with the route printed off from Walkhighlands.co.uk, we headed off on the path over the steel bridge to the right.

The path forks a few times and you always choose right as you are aiming for the very apparent shoulder. We stopped at the first burn that you cross (Allt Coire an t-Sneachda) to empty our lukewarm Inverness travelodge filled water bottles with lush snow cold fresh water - yum yum.

The Corries are great, not quite Lochnagar mind! Someone skiied down here:
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View over the corries to Cairn Gorm:
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In no time at all, we were up onto the shoulder with superb views opening up over the very impressive Lairig Ghru to the Braeraich mountain. Looking back you could see Aviemore in the distance, just behind Rothiemurchus forest and Loch Morlich. We descended a little to get a better look at the steep sides of the Lairig Ghru valley, and had a cup of coffee enjoying the quite amazing view.

The Lairig Ghru:
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Braeraich:
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Cairn Toul (left) & Angel's Point:
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Beinn A'Ghlo (far), Cairn Toul, Angel's Point & Braeraich:
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Then there was a bit of decent before a gradual climb back up, peppered by snow fields before reaching the boulder field just before the summit of Ben MacDui. The path cut across the snow fields and these were at times quite tricky, Peter falling on his butt on the way back down.

The view to the right isn't half bad either:
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OK, own up, whose 60th munro was Ben MacDui:
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The way to the summit of Ben MacDui looks straigh forward enough:
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The track cuts across the remaining snow fields:
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And a final glance right before hitting the summit:
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It was very blowy up top, but I managed to resist putting on my fleece, whilst taking copious photos and video and trying to pick out all of the munros that are listed on the Ben MacDui stone. The visibility was superb, in fact, you could just make out the snowline on Ben Nevis!

Me (Jim) on the Ben MacDui summit:
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Spot the munro time, with the aid of this:
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The other side of the Lairig Ghru revealed the best veiw with the quartet of Braeraich, Sgor an Lochaine Uaine (Angel's Peak), Cairn Toul and The Devil's Point looking superb and a great day out! You could see all the way down the Lairig Ghru to the trio Beinn A'Ghlo down at Blair Atholl.

Zoomed shot of Cairn Toul (1291m):
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Zoomed shot of Sgor an Lochain Uaine (The Angel's Peak) [1258m]:
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Peter takes shelter from the wind:
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I THINK this one is Ben Lawers?:
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We then descended from the summit and found a sheltered bit for lunch. Then there was a long walk over more snow fields until we eventually reached the mega blowy top of Coire an t-Sneachda and then Coire Cas - fleece now required! It was at this point that we disturbed a pair of Ptarmigan, so a chance to get copious photos of the birds.

Coire an Lochain:
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Zoomed Cairn Gorm (back):
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Lone walker illustrates the size of the mountains:
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Coire Cas:
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The male ptarmigan posing for me:
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Finally, there was the slog up the the top of Cairn Gorm, which to be fair didn't last too long. A few photos and down the slalom like path to the Ptarmigan restaurant where we claimed one of their benches to have our dinner at. Not sure where to go next we just went down slightly to the right of the funicular track - a very quick and steep descent, to regain the real track at the snowblower hut and then down to the carpark.

The obligatory shot of the cairn and weather station at the top of Cairn Gorm(1245m):
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The slalom like stoney path down to the ptarmigan restaurant:
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View of the short distance from ptarmigan restaurant to lower path:
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We then drove down and stopped at Loch Morlich to get some photos of the hills bathed in lovely evening sunshine. What a weekend - my tally was now 7 up and the drive down the A9 was very pleasing.

Evening sun on the Cairngorms:
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Route map (identical to Walkhighlands official route from ski-centre):

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



HD Video to follow, so please look back later:


To summarise - a wonderful day out in the sun, easy walking, ably assisted by the 2000 feet car-park start.

Re: Mayday in the Caingorms - Ben MacDui & Cairn Gorm

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 10:23 pm
by skuk007
NIce report jw, still quite a bit of snow around up there but good that you got those wonderful views.

No mist for the Grey Man to hide in that day. How was Macdui, any weird feelings?

Re: Mayday in the Caingorms - Ben MacDui & Cairn Gorm

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 11:09 pm
by jwramsay
Yeah cold feet with having to trudge through that snow!

Re: Mayday in the Caingorms - Ben MacDui & Cairn Gorm

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 11:34 pm
by Border Reiver
Love the photos and report, but what a shame you missed out by only a few hundred yards, one of the best views in the Cairngorms - Loch Avon and Shelter Stone Crag from the edge of the plateau near the Feith Bhuide. There's usually a snow bridge here most years.
That snowfield with the 60 on it is sometimes still there in August.

Re: Mayday in the Caingorms - Ben MacDui & Cairn Gorm

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 11:42 pm
by rockhopper
Great picture of the Lairig Ghru and love the "60" shot. :D Wouldn't like to ski down that slope though. :shock:

Re: Mayday in the Caingorms - Ben MacDui & Cairn Gorm

PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 7:54 am
by jwramsay
Border Reiver wrote:Love the photos and report, but what a shame you missed out by only a few hundred yards, one of the best views in the Cairngorms - Loch Avon and Shelter Stone Crag from the edge of the plateau near the Feith Bhuide. There's usually a snow bridge here most years.
That snowfield with the 60 on it is sometimes still there in August.


I have tons more photos, so will have a look for that shot.

Re: Mayday in the Caingorms - Ben MacDui & Cairn Gorm

PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 12:40 pm
by Alastair S
Great stuff there jwramsay :D Looks like you had near prefect conditions (bar the inevitable wind) with the persistent haze of the past few weeks finally disappearing. I saved Ben Macdui for my fiftieth - have you got anything lined up for yours?

Re: Mayday in the Caingorms - Ben MacDui & Cairn Gorm

PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 9:49 pm
by ChrisW
great report JW - cracking photos with incredible 'haze free' distance and the ptarmigan is a beauty :D

Re: Mayday in the Caingorms - Ben MacDui & Cairn Gorm

PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 10:10 pm
by LeithySuburbs
what clarity - amazing :D . Think the peak might be Scheihallion instead of Ben Lawers though (happy to stand corrected)...

Re: Mayday in the Caingorms - Ben MacDui & Cairn Gorm

PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 7:17 am
by jwramsay
LeithySuburbs wrote:what clarity - amazing :D . Think the peak might be Scheihallion instead of Ben Lawers though (happy to stand corrected)...


Yes, a guy at work thought the same.

Re: Mayday in the Caingorms - Ben MacDui & Cairn Gorm

PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 1:41 am
by Skottydog
Lovely pictures and video. It seems you had a great day. :clap:

The hill you identified as Ben Avon (Pronounced A'an) is actually Ben Mheadoin, but you can see Ben Avon in the distance in one of your shots. The unidentified lochan is Loch Etchachan.

Thank you for posting the video though, I really enjoyed it.