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Braeriach- Cairn Toul traverse - FAIL

Braeriach- Cairn Toul traverse - FAIL


Postby Driver84 » Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:05 am

Route description: Cairn Toul - Braeriach traverse

Munros included on this walk: Braeriach

Date walked: 29/09/2011

Time taken: 9.45 hours

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The weather forecast had said the week was going to be filled with high pressure, and warm temperatures. A keen eye had been on the MWIS and everything was pointing to great week and an excellent opportunity to get in some more of my (the) top 10.

After much planning and arranging, the Thursday/Friday was taken off work, the B&B (Greystones in Kingussie) booked for the Wednesday night all that as required was the promised weather.

The B&B owner, Mark, was kind enough to have printed off the MWIS last update on the Wednesday night and handed it to us over breakfast on Thursday morning: 80% chance of cloud free munros, and 35-40mph - with gusts of around and up to 60-70mph. Nothing had changed!
Leaving the B&B slightly later than planned, we arrived at the Sugar Bowl carpark about 7:20, to which we were promptly booted and were on our way crossing the road making our way down the track to the bridge crossing Allt Mor before ascending the west bank on the great track. We were just reaching the bend in the track when we got battered by the wind accelerating dwn the Northern Corries. Such was the strength of the battering the father-in-law was getting blown off the track, but we kept going and as we descended to cross Caochan Dubh a'Chadha the wind died down and done so as we made our way to the Chalamain Gap, which was some sight. I'd never witnessed anything like it!
P1060732.jpg
Chalamain Gap


Having made our way through the gap we made good progress on the track and the Lairig Ghru came into view - just! :shock:
P1060736.jpg
The view of things to come?


We started the ascent of Braeriach and maintained a steady pace, even though now on the edge of the steep slopes we were being buffeted once again by the winds. The cloud was hanging low and showed no signs of shifting. At around the 1000m mark we started heading into the cloud, the winds still relentless these werent 60mph gusts, these were constant!
Making our way towards Srón na Lairige we contemplated turning back - we were still being hounded by the wind which was driving the cloud and it was like being in a shower! However, we decided to go on and reach the summit, but today it would only be Braeriach! The cloud was thick, and the father-in-law, only a few paces behind, was an unrecognisible figure. Lots of micro-navigation o follow the route but stay off the path and therefore away from the cliff edges had us finally at the summit - a full 5-1/2 hours after setting off. The length of time was purely from fighting against the head on wind.
P1060740.jpg
Summit - RosythAlly


Even here there as no rest from the elements, but we needed to stop and re-fuel - we hadn't taken anything on for 3 or 4 hours. Our packs were saturated but i managed to find my spare top - dry - and sneak this on under my soft shell that had held up well and had kept me dry and warm but was heavy with the absorbed water - as were the softshell trousers. The jacket came off and got replaced with a proper waterproof - and the waterproof trousers got flung on over my sodden trousers.

We soon departed and made our way back the way we came - a sensible thing to have done - the wether wasn't relenting and we had already missed out on the magnificant views from Braeriach, why go on and miss them from Sgór an Lochain Uaine and Cairn Toul? Apart from the fact that half of our expected time for the full traverse had been eaten up by Braeriach alone! :(

A small added plus was the views down into the Lairig Ghru as we dropped below the cloud level and subsequently the wind died too! :)
P1060742.jpg
Lairig Ghru - seen on the descent

P1060748.jpg
Lairig Ghru - seen on the descent

P1060750.jpg
Lairig Ghru - seen on the descent


We were in no rush now and made our way back towards the Chalamain Gap, although itself was self cast in its shadow, the rest of the route was now in the baking in the glare of the late afternoon sunshine! 8)

And again walking the track towards the bridge crossing of the Allt Mor we were buffeted by the winds of the Northern Corries which gave us helping nudge on our way!

We were back at the car at 17:15 - a near 10 hours later! :? Although we had failed in our main goal, we suceeded in chalking another one off the list of our must-do's before July '12.


Last edited by Driver84 on Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Braeriach- Cairn Toul traverse - FAIL

Postby skuk007 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:59 pm

Good report Driver, real shame about the wind problem, but as you say at least you managed to bag one of them. :)
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Re: Braeriach- Cairn Toul traverse - FAIL

Postby Driver84 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:35 pm


Cheers skuk!

I wouldn't say I'm a fair weather walker - I've just been lucky! - but I'm up there for the views more than anything else!
There was a guy and (I assume) his son who we kept leap-frogging and the continued on, I think! There was too much clag to tell :? and that just aint for me!

But you're right, another 'must-do' chalked off my list. Just put it down to bad luck... :(

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Re: Braeriach- Cairn Toul traverse - FAIL

Postby ChrisW » Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:02 pm

Great effort D84, particularly in those god awful conditions, I hate the clag - the only thing worse is clag and wind combined (so it blows cold clammy clag into every orifice....brrrrr) anyway, I reckon you did the right thing, why keep going when you aren't going to see anything when you get there :?
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Re: Braeriach- Cairn Toul traverse - FAIL

Postby jstalker66621 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:51 pm

Braeriach was one of my first Munro's (9th to be precise) on a beautiful September day in 2006. But I recall attempting it with my friend a couple of months previous to that and being blown over when I got onto the first broad shoulder...my friend was a bit slighter than me and could hardly keep her feet at all...we erred on the side of caution that day and didnt get too much further before scurrying back down to the relative safety of the Lairig Ghru. I returned twice last year to take friends up onto it and had varying luck on both occasions with the weather. It is still one of my favourite mountains, mostly because of the access through the Chalamain Gap. :)
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Re: Braeriach- Cairn Toul traverse - FAIL

Postby Driver84 » Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:39 pm


Chris,
Totally agree with you there mate! I'd much rather be out in the rain than "walking" through the cloud during gale force winds!
But for me it's all about the views. I'll set off if there is a high chance of a view - high pressure, high cloud base, etc. But if the weather had been more accurate that day we would have done something else.

jstalker,
I won't be returning in a hurry, got the others to do - now planning to do to the remaining 3 of the traverse from Linn of Dee. However, if there is guarantee of amazing weather we just may try again!
But have to agree with you on the Chalamain Gap! 'T'was great! :D

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Re: Braeriach- Cairn Toul traverse - FAIL

Postby Liebestoter » Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:07 pm

Hi Driver84
I think we past each other a few times on that day, I was with my 18 year old nephew. We planned to go right down to The Devil's Point, we carried on passed Braeriach but didn't even get close to Sgor an Lochain Uaine before admitting defeat and turning back, the weather was bloody awful that day.
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Re: Braeriach- Cairn Toul traverse - FAIL

Postby Driver84 » Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:03 pm

Liebestoter wrote:Hi Driver84
I think we past each other a few times on that day, I was with my 18 year old nephew. We planned to go right down to The Devil's Point, we carried on passed Braeriach but didn't even get close to Sgor an Lochain Uaine before admitting defeat and turning back, the weather was bloody awful that day.



Aye, that'll have been us mate!
Horrendous stuff like!
We had wondered if you had both gone or not. We met quite a few other folk who got to Braeriach and swiftly about-turned! :(


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Re: Braeriach- Cairn Toul traverse - FAIL

Postby Liebestoter » Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:33 pm

I think all we achieved in trying to go on was getting wetter than you, if that's possible. I don't like turning back but there is only so much fumbling around in low cloud, driving wind and rain I can take. I was up for the week and only got wet once, so I consider that a really good trip. On the plus side it gives me a good excuse to visit the area again because the views were great when the cloud lifted.
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