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Was that 15mph or 51 mph MWIS? Cairn Gorm & Corries.

Was that 15mph or 51 mph MWIS? Cairn Gorm & Corries.

Postby jaybee » Sun Sep 30, 2012 3:24 pm

Route description: Cairn Gorm and the northern corries

Date walked: 23/09/2012

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 13 km

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This was our first time in the Cairngorms and I had printed out several WH routes to choose from.

Carefully checked the MWIS forecasts for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and decided we had better get out on the Sunday. Forecast was for clear skies (tick), no rain (tick), 3 degrees at 900m plus windchill and 15mph winds on the tops - hmm. As the walk progressed, we reckon MWIS must have transposed the numbers!

As we exited the car in the lower car park at the ski centre, the wind was already making its presence known. We were carrying full winter kit as we could see snow in the gulleys and on the tops. We set off up the well-made path, following the route on the GPS with occasional checks on the map too.

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Looking up to Coire Lochan

Took a quick break before the first top where there was some shelter from the wailing wind. As we climbed up and onwards, the views back towards Loch Morlich and Ryovan were stunning.
My camera batteries gave out (again) here so photos are from Gary's camera.

We noted a "flat boggy area" and a faint path up the steep slope opposite but carried on walking on the main path. This was in direct contravention of the route instructions. :oops: We were on the path to Ben Macdui. This climbs gently as it heads south. Once we identified that the large rounded hill in the distance with a delicate covering of snow was Ben Macdui, we realised that we would need to get back on track.
View from our decision point - back towards the forest

By this time it had become colder and much windier. Gary was wearing two hats. A quick consult of map, GPS and terrain and we decided that we would head up onto the plateau and walk on a bearing to cross the original track. This we did - visibility was good and we had the navigational kit and skills needed. Saw several ptarmigan on the plateau, just getting their winter coats on. We picked up the correct route at a large cairn and continued over Cairn Lochan with its double summit cairns; easy to see how mistakes could be made here in winter conditions. I was most disappointed when I later found out that this is not a Munro - at 1215m.

Fiacaill ridge from our second lunch stop. Might be tempting in a dead calm with dry rock and sunshine

We continued down to point 1111 where we found some shelter for our second lunch. The wind at this point was blowing hard from the SW, straight over the edge of the corries. I have a hand-held wind monitoring device and recorded a 39.6mph gust in this sheltered spot. I still had to take a look over though! Very steep and dangerous in places. After a quick break, we continued up and over the next raise which gave more stunning views of the Fiacaill Ridge and down into the corrie itself.

Carried on, now on a more defined path and decided to stay true to the route and complete the walk by ascending Cairn Gorm itself. This was a trudge, although we were wind-assisted. Arriving at the weather station, which was covered in rime frost, more views opened up. We also noted, with some puzzlement that the weather station has its own QR code. Not scanned on this visit.
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Weather station on Cairn Gorm summit - note the QR code

There was a slight covering of snow up here and a small snowman with grassy hair near the summit cairn. Despite the weather station and numerous visitors who had traipsed up from the restaurant, I liked this summit - and it was counted as a Munro so I doubled my count!
The route along the edges of the corries and beyond from the top of Cairn Gorm

Down the "cobbled" and roped path to the restaurant where we veered right and took the Windy Ridge path back to the car. A fittingly named end to a glorious but windy day out. :D

The remainder of the week was wild and stormy although we did explore the Chalamain Gap on Friday. Thoroughly enjoyed our week here and hope to return to explore further.
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Location: Isle of Skye - finally made it!

Re: Was that 15mph or 51 mph MWIS? Cairn Gorm & Corries.

Postby starrynights » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:55 pm

The Cairngorms can often be bleak - but atmospheric! Your pics look fab. Stunning skies!! :)
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