Thursday, 22nd. July, 1976:
Day eleven of a trek through the Cairngorms saw me and a group of about fifteen from my school camping high in Coire Etchacan - which brought an array of high summits within easy reach. A cold morning made for a sluggish start but we got away eventually and headed south to Derry Cairngorm. I can't remember much about being up on the summit ridge, though, except for the distinctive cuboid, sub-rounded boulder fields and low outcrops near the summit. We then reversed our route and headed past a small lochan which sits in the gentle stream valley to the north west of the crags of Coire Sputan Dearg. This place sparked memories ten years later when, snow-holing on the plateau during my ML Winter Assessment, one of my fellow aspirant instructors got his navigation wrong here while I and the other guy in our small group tried to put him right without our assessor - a delightful bloke called Sam Crimble - noticing; we weren't successful! Anyway, back in 1976, we ran up to the summit of Ben Macdui, ate a cheese and Ryvita sandwich, returned to Coire Etchacan and then headed up Beinn Mheadhoin to practise our climbing skills on the summit tor in the sunshine.
This was, though, the fourth day out from our last overnight re-supply in Loch Morlich and food was getting short. Everyone was really hungry (and cold) and I remember trying to make some soup from leftover bits and pieces - it didn't go well - before we all got into our sleeping bags really early. Mass gratitude then broke out when one of the teachers with us broke out his emergency supply of dates and dropped a bag into each tent. Forty years later, thanks Ray!
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