Both sides of the Lairig Ghru 40km 3030m 15hrs 30/05/1993
Cairngorm cp 7.50am Its raining, not quite the weather forecast, but we`re here now so the plan may need to be trimmed. Hatched at the Glasgow (Summits) climbing wall in conversation with the then owner, Alex, a suggested intention was to climb all 4/4000ft Munros on both sides of the Lairig Ghru over a 12hr period.
8.15am We gear up and go. From the Ski centre phone box, turn uphill into clag - a path winds over Sron an Aonaich past a closed Ptarmigan cafe to reach the large wet cairn of Cairngorm @ 1245m. There is little to see. The rain eases but it`s still compass bearing to point 1176 and again to find the twin lochans - as suddenly the weather clears. Cairn Lochan gives life to the March burn which falls W into the Lairig Ghru - while Lochan Bhuide which has the distinction of being the highest lochan in Scotland, drains E to Loch Avon. Ahead over the N top@1295m the vast boulder field and twin stoney tops of Ben Macdui @ 1309m. Here we take on calories with an inspection of army bivouac sites built during the war, trig point and indicator erected by the Cairngorm club, a plaque for crashed Anson a/c - then, does the sun not appear ! The long range of peaks across the Ghru look good, all 10km of it. Down the shoulder of the tailor burn for the 2.5km ridge walk out to Carn a` Mhaim @ 1037m. Great views if hazy over all the southern hills, could be Lochnagar in the distance. Steep sides drop into the glen so backtrack to a point where we can descend to the tailor stone in the Lairig Ghru Story has it that three tailors making their way home were caught in a blizzard here and died. We crossed the river had a looksee at the bothy. Boggy expanse around the hut, not a place to dwell, return to the path - to climb Coire Odhar thro snow banks for a broad col. Turn S and a quick 26min up and down claims the Devil peak@1004m. So three down, three left. At the col we take a break, the heat is building with a fair way to go. Perhaps adding the extra two Munros was not such a good idea. Gear on, add snow to the water bottles then climb 310m over 1.5k to point 1213 down 70m and up for Cairntoul @ 1291m down 160m to Sgur an Lochan Uaine ( Angels peak) @ 1258m. At this point I`m nackered. Darren takes gear from my sac leaving only food and water. A break, then drop 120m and climb to point @1265m gives an end to this roller coaster and welcome relief as we reach the Wells of Dee. The result of snow melt this high land area of fresh water pools becomes a burn that drops into An Garbe Coire. It is covered with crane flies but we drink anyway and so refreshed move on to Cairn Einich @1237m then to the mass and sheer cliffs of Braeriach@1296m. Rest here, the cairn is right on the cliff edge, so feet can dangle in fresh air. It`s 8pm. 9.5km to go plus 315m of ascent should take another 3hrs. From the crags of Coire Bhrochain pass point 1184 - Stron na Lairige`s long heather ridge - the Sinclair hut to cross the Allt Druidh for the Chalamain gap. This boulder filled drop lies between Lurcher`s crag and Creag a Chalamain. Incidences here are best avoided by staying high and boulder hopping with purpose. Getting dark now, from the gap , shave the corner then trek the hard scrub basin and two burns for the sanity of the c/p. Later In Aviemore , we munch chips and throw some to the gulls still active past midnight. Seen enroute plenty birds and mountain hares, folk in the L/G but none on the hills. A good day, nice it hung together. Sometime havto is the only word.
The drive home is quiet , not `til later the realization of what`s been done. The beginnings for a Jackday. PS Sgor an lochain Uaine, now a Munro
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