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Some You Lose

Some You Lose


Postby Alastair S » Sun May 13, 2012 10:25 pm

Date walked: 12/05/2012

Time taken: 3.33 hours

Distance: 7.5 km

Ascent: 462m

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Lurcher's fail elevation.jpg


Friday lunchtime and a browse of this site releaved yet more snow falling on the Cairngorms. I was in Strathspey the previous weekend and they looked pretty white then. A visit to MWIS promised decent chance of cloud free Munros for Saturday. Dispite pulling out of a walking club meet in Torridon due to a dodgy ankle a plan was starting to form. So after tea that evening I dusted off my winter boots to see how they felt wrt the ankle. The answer was not too bad. The substantially higher cut meant they gave more support. So, the plan: get up in the middle of the night, drive over to the Cairngorm ski centre, walk up to Lurcher's Crag (aka Creag an Leth-choin) for dawn or shortly after, shot stunning photos looking down the Lairig Ghru in lovely dawn light, get back home for 2pm so the wife could use the car. Lurcher's Crag has been on my radar since my failed attempt to bag Braeriach last winter (Not Quite Braeriach). Not only does it look like a stunning viewpoint but it is also a Murdo (having done all the Cairngorm Munros Murdos are now my targets).

Well the first part went to plan: got up at 1am after a couple of hours sleep, got to the ski centre around 3:30 and I was on my way by 3:40am. Sunrise was scheduled for 5:01 so it was optimistic to expect to get up there for then. But even on the way over I knew the chances of a sunlit dawn were slim. It may have been a lovely starry night as I left Deeside but by the time I was driving over The Lecht big black clouds filled the sky. Still I was there so I may as well give it a go. No head-torch required but after half an hour the path disappeared under snow and I was on my own (as far as route finding was concerned). For the most part the snow was 10-20cm deep but near the stream that drains Coire an Lochain it was knee deep. It was mid-May, I was below 800m and I was wading though the stuff. Crazy! But part of the reason I was there - I just had to see the conditions for myself.


Image
Blue Hills #1
Meall a' Bhuachaille and Loch Morlich from the lower slopes of Coire an Lochain. Taken at 4:30am, half an hour before sunrise.



Image
Blue Hills #2
Meall a' Bhuachaille and Loch Morlich from the lower slopes of Coire an Lochain. Taken at 4:50am, 10 minutes before sunrise.



Anyway things (i.e. weather) didn't improve. Into the clag and visibility was about 50m when there was something to see (rocks). But when I reached the plateau at around 1050m there wasn't anything to see. If I turned round I could see my foot prints for about 10m. I've been in near whiteouts before but this was the most complete. Very weird. Anyway I decided I wasn't prepared to sit around for hours in the hope the clouds would clear and my ankle was starting to get a bit sore. But as I had my tripod with me I decided to take a few photos of the conditions and then trace my way back. The latter proved surprisingly difficult. I hadn't gone more than 50m and my footprints were already filled with spindrift.


Image
Nature's Studio



Image
Nature's Studio (Setup)



Met one early morning cross-country skier on my way back. He was heading for Ben Macdui (which had briefly featured in the most optimistic of my plans). And then on returning to the ski centre car park there were a couple of Snow Buntings knocking about. This was the first time I've seen this species so I was pretty happy about that. One let me approach to within five feet which was just as well as I only have a 15-85mm lens. So I had my breakfast in the car and you'll never guess what happened :) That's right, the cloud cleared from Lurcher's Crag. But I was expecting that so I wasn't too bothered. I'd had a decent amount of exercise, the ankle beared up pretty well and I seen my first Snow Buntings.


Image
Snow Bunting #1



Image
Snow Bunting #2



No problem fulfilling the last part of the plan: I was home my 11am despite a half hour snooze in the car on the way home. And as a bonus I'm really pleased with how the photo below has turned out. I like the minimalism of it. As losses go this one wasn't too bad.



Image
Meall a' Bhuachaille
From the lower slopes of Coire an Lochain, just half an hours walk from the ski centre car park (if you don't go via the pleateau!).



Flickr set over here.
User avatar
Alastair S
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1283
Munros:78   Corbetts:12
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Joined: Dec 14, 2008
Location: Banchory, Aberdeenshire

Re: Some You Lose

Postby morag1 » Mon May 14, 2012 8:28 am

Some you win, some you lose, but with photos like these i think its win, win, win all the way for you :thumbup:

Ankle sounds a bit of a worry, hope it gets better soon
morag1
 

Re: Some You Lose

Postby Ranger » Mon May 14, 2012 9:51 am

In whiteouts and bad conditions the Cairngorms is probably the most dangerous place in Britain - right call to turn back for me :thumbup:
User avatar
Ranger
 
Posts: 257
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Joined: Dec 20, 2010

Re: Some You Lose

Postby Alastair S » Tue May 15, 2012 9:52 am

Ranger wrote:In whiteouts and bad conditions the Cairngorms is probably the most dangerous place in Britain - right call to turn back for me :thumbup:

Yep, lots of rather rapid transitions from horizontal to vertical terrain. Although I had GPS & compass I rather have something a bit more interesting to look at :)
User avatar
Alastair S
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1283
Munros:78   Corbetts:12
Grahams:6   
Sub 2000:13   
Islands:22
Joined: Dec 14, 2008
Location: Banchory, Aberdeenshire

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