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Rainy day on Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

Rainy day on Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

Postby FeartyTim » Sun Jul 03, 2011 4:46 pm

Route description: Ben Macdui and Cairngorm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui, Cairn Gorm

Date walked: 21/06/2011

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 17.3 km

Ascent: 992m

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First full day of my holiday in the Caingorms, and I'd decided on an ascent of Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm. The weather forecast wasn't particularly great - persistent hill fog, rain, increasing wind, with the possibility of a thunderstorm later in the afternoon, the first half of the morning providing the only semi-decent conditions. With that in mind, I made what for me was an fairly early start and headed on out to the Ski centre at Coire Cas by about 7:45.

Ben Macdui and cairn gorm.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

The realistion that I was already over 2000ft up before I'd even started walking felt like a bit of a cheat somehow :).

01 - A lovely midsummer morning at Coire Cas.JPG

The only cloud free summits in view were back towards Meall a' Bhuachaille. I resigned myself to a day spent largely in the clag.

02 - Meall a Bhuachaille.JPG

The first portion of the ascent up past Coire an Lochain was actually very pleasant and enjoyable. Cool and still and very quiet, easy going on a good path, with the gathering cloud lending a brooding atmosphere to the landscape, and only one other person anywhere in sight.

03 - Heading up towards Coire an Lochain.JPG

04 - View back.JPG

05 - Coire an Lochain.JPG

There were plenty of snow buntings flying about, one of which landed on the path less than ten feet in front of me and barely seemed bothered by my presence.

06 - Snow Bunting.JPG

By this time, thick cloud was rolling in down the Lairig Ghru, an occasional break giving brief glimpses of the craggy flank of Sron na Lairige.

07 - Across Lairig Ghru.JPG

Crossing the plateau past Lochan Buidhe, the cloud finally closed in on me for the day.

08 - Lochan Buidhe as the cloud rolls in.JPG

At this point, the way forward becomes somewhat rougher and less distinct, crossing a boulderfield with cairns positioned at regular intervals to mark the way. The ascent onwards to Ben Macdui's summit feels remarkably easy going considering this is the second highest mountain in Scotland, never at any point particularly steep, and on the ascent the route finding is simple - by the time I reach the broad summit plateau it almost doesn't feel properly earned.

09 - Ben Macdui summit.JPG

10 - What I could have seen.JPG

After lingering on the summit for a several minutes, enjoying the solitude and atmosphere, it started to rain, so I decided to head back towards my second Munro of the day, given that the conditions were only likely to get worse from there on in. Considering how wide and well marked by cairns the path seemed on ascent it's rather embarrassing that I managed to miss the initial portion of it on the way down, and spent a good fifteen minutes tramping across boulder fields as the rain got steadily heavier before I picked it up again. I blame the walker coming up to the summit behind me from a slightly unexpected angle as I started my descent, which had me adjusting my course in the assumption I must have veered off the correct route (cleary not the fault of my own crap navigating :)).

From this point forward conditions steadily deteriorated, the wind picking up, the clag thickening, and the rain getting heavier still. The fact that one of the seams of my waterproof trousers decided this would be a good time to start leaking didn't exactly go to improve my mood much, and by the time I was about halfway up Stob Coire an t-Sneachda I really have had just about enough for the day.

Between Stob Coire an t-Sneachda and Cairn Gorm I'm out of the wind somewhat, which does make the going much easier and improves my mood considerably. By the time I reached Cairn Gorm's summit though, it really was blowing and pelting it down.

11 - Path from Stob Coire an t-Sneachda.JPG

12 - Cairn Gorm summit.JPG

I'm somewhat amused to find that even on a day like this there's still a guided tour party up on the summit from the Ptarmigan, huddled around the weather station - I mean, who takes a guided tour in this weather? It's only a minute or two later that it occurs to me that, hey at least they've only walked up a couple of hundred metres, unlike some I could mention, and hello Mr Pot, Mr Kettle would like a quiet word :).

Passing the Ptarmigan, I'm actually halfway tempted to see if I can get the funicular down, but that really does seem like cheating. After the initial ugly section through the ski-run though, the descent of Sron an Aonaich was actually rather pleasant, particularly once I emerged from the cloud and the rain eased off.

13 - The quick way down.JPG
Posts: 12
Munros:11   Corbetts:5
Joined: Sep 24, 2010

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