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A Day in the Fog

A Day in the Fog

Postby gadamson » Wed Jul 04, 2012 4:22 pm

Route description: Cairn Toul - Braeriach traverse

Munros included on this walk: Braeriach, Cairn Toul, Sgòr an Lochain Uaine

Date walked: 02/07/2012

Time taken: 17 hours

Distance: 36 km

Ascent: 1450m

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Having started munro-bagging less than 2 years ago, I had still only done two walks which took in more than one munro in a day. Confidence increasing and filled with the ambition of youth, I set my sights on the Cairngorms for a new challenge.

I wasn't going to take on the task alone, however. A couple of my friends were quite into their walking already. Over the course of my short munro career, I had also managed to rope in a couple of my blissfully unaware friends into the hobby. Thankfully, all had enjoyed the experiences so far, but nothing we had done so far compared to what lay ahead.

We set off early on the Monday morning. I woke at 5:15am, got the last of my things together and began the task of collecting my 4 mates from the surrounding area. With a short stop in Tesco, we headed off just after 7 for the hour-long trip to the Sugar Bowl car park.

On approach, I heard a question from the back. It was from one of my mates who hadn't been on this sort of and expedition for quite a few years. He wanted reassurance that we had all the correct gear. "I take it you know where we are going?"
"Yes, of course"
"And you have a map and compass?"

I had forgotten the essential compass. There followed a short discussion on whether we could take on the route without it, but having read the warnings about the plateau we decided to go back to Aviemore, despite having the GPS as back up.

So our early start turned into a 10am start. The walk to the Chalamain Gap was pleasant and the paths were great. In fact, even the Chalamain Gap wasn't too bad. It was actually quite enjoyable and some of the hellish descriptions of it I have read seem a bit over the top.


This sight made me think views from above the clouds were a possibility!


Chalamain Gap- quite fun really

Once through, we crossed the Lairig Ghru. We then began the ascent towards Braeriach, as we were doing the route in reverse. We reached a height of around 1100 metres before the mist loomed ahead. With around 2 or 3 hours waking done, this was the last time we would see further than about 50 metres for the next 8 hours

At first the navigation went well. I was fairly certain that if we kept the cliffs on sight on our left we would follow the corries around and back the first 3 munros. However, this did not quite work out. After what seemed and eternity, there seemed to no longer be a steep slope on our left but rather a steady slope down into the Lairig Ghru. We were concerned we had managed to come off the "ridge" and the GPS wasn't helping so we headed back up the slope. Luckily, we came across a clear path. Without this, we could have been in a bit of bother. I was never worried about safety as it was misty but thankfully not too windy or too wet. From here we regained our route.

It really was a long slog up to Braeriach, but he views were worth.... hang on. We spent little time on the summit as there wasn't much to see and worries about time were already creeping into my head.

Little drama occurred from here all the way to Cairn Toul. After the Cairn Toul summit we again lost our way for some time, which set us back around half an hour. Luckily, we soon found our way and headed off again.
By now even I, the walking fanatic, was beginning to come out of denial and realise that the Devil's point would be too much. The group was split on their desire to do it but in the end it was the concern over lack of daylight that swayed the vote. We headed down towards Corrour bothy until finally it came into sight. 11 hours after setting out, a predicted trip of 9 hours had turned into 11 but it felt a hell of a lot longer!

At first we thought there was no-one there but then around 7 small tents came into view. We were concerned, as although we had a tent with us we were shattered. We had everything crossed that the bothy was empty... and it was!!! We were all so relieved, so we set about getting dinner, tidying up and getting into our sleeping bags.

In the morning, we were woken by a group coming into the bothy to pick up some things they had left in the bothy. We had a bit of pillow chat with them before we decided we were up now so we may as well pack up and get home as soon as possible.

The walk back along the Lairig Ghru was very pleasant and despite the continued fog on the plateau we got a few glimpses of the glorious mountains we had climbed the day before. The snow patches were really impressive, and when we passed some close up on the Monday they looked very deep.
We continued past the Pools of Dee, with their mythical like clarity and continued back to the Chalamain gap and home.


The view back towards the bothy and Devil's Point which we unfortunately missed


An atmospheric shot, summed up the weather pretty well


Finally some sunshine in the Lairig Ghru

To top off the whole trip, a chippy was called for in Aviemore followed by an Ice-cream in the warm afternoon sunshine. Perhaps not the most enjoyable or scenic journey due to the fog, but still a good achievement despite missing the last munro. It also gave my first sobering insight into the potential dangers of the mountains. I would not have liked to have been up there in winter with cornices!
Posts: 7
Munros:89   Corbetts:11
Sub 2000:4   
Joined: Jun 27, 2011

Re: A Day in the Fog

Postby skuk007 » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:32 pm

That's a fair old hike to take on, well done on getting them bagged. Hopefully you'll get some views on the next ones. :)
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