walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

One Cairn-well done trip!

One Cairn-well done trip!


Postby BlackPanther » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:20 pm

Route description: The Cairnwell Munros

Munros included on this walk: Carn a'Gheoidh, Carn Aosda, The Cairnwell

Date walked: 15/01/2012

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 11.7 km

Ascent: 676m

5 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

After Saturday's jaunting up Cairngorms Corbett I could hardly wait to add another great day to my list of adventures. Despite Kevin's concerns about the car (clutch, gear box, what else?...) I convinced him to drive about 100 miles away from Inverness to Cairnwell Pass. I knew from other walkers that winter is the best (and possibly the only :lol: :lol: ) time to tackle the Cairnwell trio, if you want to feel any excitement while walking this route.

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


Weather looked good. As we approached Braemar, familiar shape of Lochnagar appeared on the horizon:
Image
We arrived at the ski center with a bit of a delay. Not a great amount of snow around, bust we still saw a few skiers - and other walkers tackling the steep side of the Cairnwell:
Image
Carn Aosda from the car park:
Image
The Meall Odhar ski slopes:
Image
We paid a short visit to Mr & Mrs Wainwright...
Image
...and got on going. It looked a piece of cake to start with, but soon we experienced one close encounter with hard, slippery ice. These slopes can mislead you as very easy, but they hide nasty surprises. I thought about putting my crampons on, but Kevin suggested that we stay on softer vegetation. It was a good idea - walking on the heather was much easier...
Image
...and as we gained height we got our first views of the day, across to Meall Odhar and Carn Aosda:
Image
Image
Junior skiing school in action :lol: :
Image
As we reached the ridge of the Cairnwell, close to the very summit, suddenly we were surrounded by true winter wonderland:
Image
Looking across Choire Dhirich to Carn na Sac and Carn a' Gheoidh just behind it:
Image
The ridge between The Cairnwell and Carn Aosda:
Image
Distant Cairngorms somehow hazy:
Image
Patches of low cloud formed here and there, especially in the south-east, but general conditions were excellent:
Image
We walked quickly to the summit area of The Cairnwell. Such a sad experience... This hill has been scared for life, and my summit picture is the best evidence:
Image
I did my best to take some interesting snapshots of the "summit equipment". Here, one of the masts:
Image
The only thing missing is a flying saucer in the sky :lol: :lol: :lol:
Image
Having said all that, Cairnwell is a nice viewpoint in all directions:
Image
Image
Image
We left the summit eventually - it was just past twelve and we slowed down to enjoy the beautiful scenery, to take more pictures...
Looking back to the Cairnwell:
Image
Sadly, snow fences still spoil the views here:
Image
We decided to go to Carn a'Gheoidh first and leave the easy Carn Aosda as the final Munro of the day. Many other walkers had the same idea, as shown by plenty of footprints in the snow:
Image
We turned west along the ridge of Creag a'Choire Dhirich, towards the col at 808m:
Image
I tackled the slope with a big smile!
Image
Another glimpse back to Cairnwell:
Image
Panorama from one of the minor tops along the way:
Image
We took our time stopping at every possible lump and bump for photies, at some point I noticed that all the other walkers overtook us, but we still calculated we had enough time to get to Carn a'Gheoidh and back before the darkness came...
One of the viewpoints:
Image
We reached the two little lochans half way along to the Munro summit. They were frozen solid:
Image
Weather was still good enough and mountains looked simply stunning in their white coats:
Image
Image
Approaching the summit of Carn a'Gheoidh. Some mist began to gather around...
Image
In less than 30 min, grey cloud arrived from SE direction, spoiling views a bit:
Image
After a final short and steep climb up icy slope we reached the summit of Carn a'Gheoidh. The cloud was still hanging about so not much of a view from here, but I didn't complain, it was still a fantastic day!
Summit cairn:
Image
After a short snack break it was time to depart. We waited a bit longer, hoping for the mist to disperse (as it did the day before on Meall a'Bhuchaille) but no such luck this time. Eventually, with crampons on for safety, we run down the side of Carn a'Gheoidh to retrace our steps back to Carn Aosda. In next to to time we dived into the thick cloud covering the plateau...
We walked, laughed and discussed menu for our dinner, and suddenly - ooops :shock: :shock: - the plateau ended and we were standing over some high, steep cliff.
"Hey, wait, that was not supposed to be here" I scratched my head "We took the wrong way!"
"Yep, we did" - Kevin consulted map and compass - "It looks like we wandered off to the top of Carn na Sac."
I looked over his shoulder to the map and agreed with him. We still could see zilch but we were pretty confident we guessed our position correctly. It wasn't the first time when we misjudged our direction in misty conditions...
To go back on track we retraced our steps for about 200m and then turned NE towards Carn Aosda. Soon we emerged from the cloud (somewhere on the ridge of Creag a'Choire Dhirich) and we saw that we were exactly where we thought we were :lol: :lol: So trouble avoided this time and a point scored for us (especially for Kevin, he's the main navigator). Nevertheless, this little incident shows with clarity that even so-called easy hills can be a deadly threat if underestimated.
Out of the cloud at last:
Image
The top of Carn na Sac and the cloud that misled us:
Image
We passed the frozen lochans again...
Image
...and crossed the plateau towards our last Munro of the day. The sun was about to set and surrounding mountains changed colour to slightly pinkish...
Image
I took my crampons off and sped up to finish our trip before it got dark...
Image
... and as I walked quickly across the icy stream, suddenly my legs were in the air and I was staring in the sky :lol: :lol: :lol: . Luckily nothing was hurt but my pride!
Kevin laughed a bit and helped me to get up - then we noticed that there were other witnesses to my unfortunate bum-slide:
Image
Image
I hope the don't tell anyone! 8)
As soon as we reached the final slope and we found a wide track, the rest of the climb was a formality. Sadly, the very summit of Carn Aosda was misty, with the setting sun shining through:
Image
Kevin by the summit cairn:
Image
Finally we descended the bulldozed track don to the ski center and we were back in the car with about 30 min of daylight to spare. I was more than happy - I guess one couldn't demand more adventures from one of the most boring Munros in Scotland :lol: :lol: A great day out and more experience gained! Meow!
The only unhappy participant of this whole trip was our car, which ended up in a garage on Monday morning. She will have her gear box put apart... but she's going to make it.
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3195
Munros:260   Corbetts:163
Grahams:112   
Sub 2000:40   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: One Cairn-well done trip!

Postby quoman » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:36 pm

Nice report there blackpanther.

yes your right the winter is the best time to do them shame about the car.
User avatar
quoman
Walker
 
Posts: 960
Munros:282   Corbetts:10
Grahams:1   Donalds:5
Sub 2000:2   
Joined: Nov 14, 2011
Location: larbert

Re: One Cairn-well done trip!

Postby Steve B » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:12 pm

That's the second good report of these hills so I definitely need to get up there after some more snow.
Steve B
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 271
Munros:238   Corbetts:7
Hewitts:53
Wainwrights:26   Islands:9
Joined: Oct 25, 2010
Location: Glasgow

Re: One Cairn-well done trip!

Postby ChrisW » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:48 pm

Great report BP, some lovely photos of an area that gets too much 'bad press', I did these three on a beautiful day in May last year and really enjoyed them, glad to see you did too :D hope you didn't end up with a bruised bum :shock: :lol:
User avatar
ChrisW
Scrambler
 
Posts: 4940
Munros:18   Corbetts:5
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Jan 25, 2011
Location: Cochrane- Alberta - Canada

Re: One Cairn-well done trip!

Postby PeteR » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:03 pm

Nice report and pictures :D I'm with Chris W on these hills. Despite the Cairnwell being spoiled by the junk on the top I think this is a lovely area and the views of the surrounding areas are much better than I was expecting when I was up there last year :D
User avatar
PeteR
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 1964
Munros:282   Corbetts:152
Grahams:87   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:158   Hewitts:3
Islands:7
Joined: Jan 27, 2010
Location: North Ayrshire

Re: One Cairn-well done trip!

Postby LeithySuburbs » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:37 am

I'd say that winter is probably the best but not only time to visit these hills. Approach them from Gleann Taitneach or the Baddoch Burn and they are still mostly wild and free of ski junk :) .
User avatar
LeithySuburbs
Ambler
 
Posts: 1930
Munros:253   Corbetts:50
Grahams:26   Donalds:33
Sub 2000:40   Hewitts:14
Wainwrights:23   
Joined: Feb 19, 2009
Location: The Capital

Re: One Cairn-well done trip!

Postby jmarkb » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:07 pm

LeithySuburbs wrote: Approach them from Gleann Taitneach or the Baddoch Burn and they are still mostly wild and free of ski junk


Did these from Baddoch back in the Autumn: the N ridge of Carn Aosda is really nice, and the track along the Baddoch Burn makes for an easy return. The Cairnwell is still a horrid mess though: perhaps one of the only hills where some cloud is actually a good thing???
jmarkb
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 3695
Munros:241   Corbetts:88
Grahams:76   Donalds:27
Sub 2000:40   
Joined: Oct 28, 2011
Location: Edinburgh

5 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).



Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: davezeking, eoin ka, Ewancja, MyrtleLove, Santa Cruz Jeff and 64 guests