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Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Ben Macdui - My very first Munro


Postby ally63 » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:53 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui, Cairn Gorm

Date walked: 11/01/2012

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 23 km

Ascent: 2810m

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Wed 11th Jan 2012....a date I will never forget. New to Walkinghighlands and new-ish to mountain walking, I set out from the Ski Centre (8.45am) in the Cairngorms full of excitement and fear. The previous day i'd arrived from Belfast in Aviemore and hired my crampons (surely these things should be classed as lethal weapons!!) from Cairngorm Mountain Sports where a brief demo and cautionary advice on how not to stab myself was given. I'd been following the forecasts for the whole week beforehand and was pleased that the day was starting out with clear skies, albeit accompanied by a nippy breeze. I was aware of the impending strong winds for the afternoon but a local (a man probably in his early 50's with two boxer dogs - you may know him?) assured me I should make Macdui's summit in time before the worst of the weather hit.

I followed the excellent path toward Miadan Creag an Leth-choin stopping on several occasions to take photographs of the stunning scenery.
DSCF0029.JPG
Looking into Coire an Lochain
DSCF0035.JPG
Beyond Lairig Ghru (is that Braerich in distance?)

I was so glad that i'd hired the crampons as the snow and ice was quite extensive and it wasn't til later in the day, as I tired, that the trips and falls started :shock:

Anyway, long story short, about 1/2km from Macdui's summit, I met the aforementioned local on his way back. Now, who among us has failed to heed advice from those older and/or wiser than us?! His words, barely audible above the strengthening gale, suggested I should consider turning back. Well I hadn't travelled across the pond to turn back just 500m from my goal :eh: I assured him I had time and trudged on with gritted teeth towards my target. 15 mins later I made it....
DSCF0039.JPG
Macdui's Summit!!
:clap:

It was just before 1pm and I reached into my rucksack for a banana only to find it frozen :shock: The wind was too strong by now to fire up my Jetboil so a gel tube and energy bar (disgusting taste but probably good for me) was my lunch. As I turned to plot my route back I was a little concerned to see....absolutely nothing, and in all directions!!
DSCF0040.JPG
Is this the way?!!!


Even longer story short, I spent the next hour travelling in circles without getting very far. At some stages it was white in front, behind, to the side and above! I felt like I was in a sci-fi thriller where I was in a completely white room with no defintion as to where walls, floor or ceiling were. Just before sheer panic set in (It was just simple panicking at this stage) I took the map out, looked for the nearest track marked on it and followed closely my GPS to make sure I was finally going in the right direction. A short time later my prayers were answered by several sets of footprints heading in both directions that corresponded with the approx position of the track that led to Cairngorm. Within minutes I saw a hint of blue in the sky as I rounded the edge of Stob Coire an t-Sneachda and an even more welcome sight of a bright red jacket moving in the distance :-D I hurried, pushed by the gale, towards it and eventually caught up at the weather station on top of Cairngorm. Sheltering on the north side was Yorus (at least I think that was his name) a guy who worked in the bar at Glenmore Lodge. (At this point i'd stopped taking photos as staying upright was my only concern).

We staggered down via Ptarmagan (closed, so I was denied a cuppa in the UK's highest restaurant :( ) and finally, in complete darkness, arrived back in the carpark that I'd left earlier with such excitement. My feelings? Relief because I had come close to getting into serious diffs, but also joy at having bagged not one, but two munros. Not necessarily in the manner i'd planned but in a way that i'll never forget :)
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby LeithySuburbs » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:04 pm

Well that's certainly an interesting way to do your first 2 munros :shock: . However, sounds like you enjoyed it anyway :D . Done much walking in NI?
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby Alan S » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:15 pm

well done on your 1st munro's 8)
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby MarilynMunro » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:17 pm

Kudos on bagging these as your first Munro 's, well done for getting back in one piece. But can't help feeling you may have just jumped in at the deep end a little unprepared, :o ..... hired gear, no previous experience of winter walking, I think you got off lucky. Hopefully lessons learned.
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby rockhopper » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:28 pm

Sounds like typical weather for the area (welcome to Scotland) - one minute clear, the next can't see further than 20 yards...summer or winter :shock: Very glad you got back safe - don't think I'd pick winter cairngorms, without experience of the area and equipment, for my first munros though - cheers :D
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby ally63 » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:39 pm

MarilynMunro wrote:Kudos on bagging these as your first Munro 's, well done for getting back in one piece. But can't help feeling you may have just jumped in at the deep end a little unprepared, :o ..... hired gear, no previous experience of winter walking, I think you got off lucky. Hopefully lessons learned.

I agree, I did jump in at the deep end and it's a stupid competitive spirit I have. I have had winter walking over here in the Mournes but it's no comparison. In the Mournes there is the wall which is never far away no matter where you are and it provides shelter and a way down. The next day was Meall a'Bhuachaille which should have been my first climb. Believe me, I know I was lucky and the report is as much a warning to others like me as anything else. I should have heeded the guy with the dogs!! Lesson learned
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby ally63 » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:42 pm

LeithySuburbs wrote:Well that's certainly an interesting way to do your first 2 munros :shock: . However, sounds like you enjoyed it anyway :D . Done much walking in NI?

Yea i've done quite a bit in the Mournes with a few night walks but it's tame compared to the wilderness that is the Cairngorms!
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby MarilynMunro » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:47 pm

Just glad you got back ok, Ally. As long as WE all learn(from each other :lol: ). Best of luck with the rest of your trip
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby scoob999 » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:56 pm

Hi ally
Glad you made it out ok
Although experiences like this can put the fear of death into you, when you get back home and think about it, you just want to get back out again, having learned from your mistakes. Man against nature and all that :D
So can we expect to see you working behind a bar here anytime soon? :lol:
Sorry :D
Welcome to scotland
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby ally63 » Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:48 am

scoob999 wrote:Hi ally
Glad you made it out ok
Although experiences like this can put the fear of death into you, when you get back home and think about it, you just want to get back out again, having learned from your mistakes. Man against nature and all that :D
So can we expect to see you working behind a bar here anytime soon? :lol:
Sorry :D
Welcome to scotland


Thanks Scoob and yes, I can't wait to get back. Unfortunately had to come home today but believe me I will be back and hopefully next time I can link in with some of you guys. It's great getting all the feedback from yourself, marilyn, rockhopper, alan and leithy etc. I trust you all appreciate what a truly wonderful natural wonder you have over there. I'm already looking at flight options over the coming months :D
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby ChrisW » Sat Jan 14, 2012 5:33 am

Congrats on your first Munro Ally, it may have been a bit scary but now it (and number 2) are out of the way. I love that second pic, it really captures my beloved Cairngorms and leaves me just a little homesick :D
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby quoman » Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:09 pm

Well done on your first two munros the weather can catch you out one minute nice the next nothing. nice photo's.
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby Cairngormwanderer » Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:00 pm

Hi Ally,
The other lesson you'll have learned from this, of coure, is that you shouldn't ever rely on being able to use a cooker (jetboil or otherwise) out on the hillside in winter. Even if you get it going, the time spent standing/sitting about is time spent getting colder. Winter is the time for as many eat-on-the-move snacks as you can and keeping sit-down stops to a minimum unless you get good shelter. Great walk to get yourself started though, and hope you have many more good hill days over here.
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby Johnny Corbett » Sat Jan 14, 2012 7:52 pm

Cairngormwanderer wrote:Hi Ally,
The other lesson you'll have learned from this, of coure, is that you shouldn't ever rely on being able to use a cooker (jetboil or otherwise) out on the hillside in winter. Even if you get it going, the time spent standing/sitting about is time spent getting colder. Winter is the time for as many eat-on-the-move snacks as you can and keeping sit-down stops to a minimum unless you get good shelter. Great walk to get yourself started though, and hope you have many more good hill days over here.


What a way to start off you're Munro account, well done. Good advice from Cairngormwanderer, may i add carrying a shelter, this will keep the wind off allowing you a wee break for a lunch stop :D
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Re: Ben Macdui - My very first Munro

Postby ally63 » Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:23 pm

Good point about the food options. Thankfully I had taken snacks but just hadn't considered the windchill and the effect it would have on some of my food. It meant I was seriously close to using my emergency rations which would have been counter-productive.

Good shout also about a shelter. I'd considered buying one in Tiso before leaving but bought a bivvy instead! That's one of the best things about this website - as a knowledge base it's second to none and there will never be a time when we can say we know it all, but we can be prepared as best we can.

The whole day was a learning experience, one I would never have got back home. Funny thing is, whilst I feel I did push my limits a too far that day, I was re-reading an artical by Andy Kirkpatrick today in Trail magazine (Issue 18, July 2011) and he poses some interesting questions regarding risk....worth looking up if anyone has the time (www.andy-kirkpatrick.com)

As for the photos, I appreciate the comments. I'd just bought a Fuji Finepix XP shock-proof digital and was keen to test it out.
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