Glorious sunrise on Braeriach
by malky_c » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:45 am
Munros included on this walk: Braeriach
Date walked: 31/03/2019
Time taken: 13.8 hours
Distance: 37.5 km
Ascent: 1395m8 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Date: 30 - 31/03/2019.
Distance: 11 km + 26.5 km.
Ascent: 275m + 1120m.
Time taken: 2 hours, 20 minutes + 11 hours, 30 minutes.
Weather: Light but cold breeze. Clear and sunny (and very cold overnight).
Mull or Cairngorms? Less organisation required for the Cairngorms, plus the opportunity for a bit of late season snow, so that's what we went for. I took Friday afternoon off and met Jackie at our camping spot at around 3pm. We had some cycling planned for the afternoon, so I had picked a nice easy 30 mile circuit along both sides of the Spey between Aviemore and Kingussie.
We set off down the Feshiebridge road first, which was nice and quiet, but slightly hilly. Jackie seemed to have largely recovered from the muscle injury that had been plaguing her all winter, but the result was lack of cycling fitness . We took it easy down through Insh and Tromie Bridge, and once in Kingussie, the wind was behind us for the return journey.
Cairngorms from Whitewell
Crossing the Tromie
In order to break up the ride back, we took a small diversion via Loch Alvie, before heading to the Winking Owl for dinner and a pint . The drag back uphill to Whitewell in the dark was a little painful after that!
There was some rain through the night but we didn't need an early start, so the sun was out by the time we got up. Various options had been discussed for the weekend - a high camp on Braeriach or Sgorr Gaoith initially, then lower, more leisurely options when I decided my sleeping bag probably wasn't up to the temperatures. In the end we reached a compromise - camp at Loch Einich then do make a pre-dawn start on Braeriach to reach the summit for sunrise. Seemed like a plan to me!
Braeriach from Rothiemurchus
We set off with our overnight gear shortly after midday, and after Jackie had killed her car battery by charging her watch . Never mind - we would deal with that on our return! Rothiemurchus is always lovely to walk through, especially when the sun is shining, and we enjoyed a proper long Cairngorms walk-in.
Meall na h-Eilrig
Sgoran Dubh Mor
Some of the burns crossing the path were flowing quite high - I was on hand as ever to try and photograph any potential slips
I think that finger is for me
Glen Einich and Sgorr Gaoith
Approaching Loch Einich
We had the tent up by 3pm in a strange mixture of warm sun and absolutely Baltic breeze. Going for a dip had been discussed on the way up to the loch, and now there was too much at stake - neither of us could back out. Even getting swimming stuff on was chilly - this didn't bode well!
For some reason we decided to paddle across the outflow of the loch before getting in the water on the other side. Our feet were numb by this time, and we still had to get back across the outflow before we were finished. Neither of us made it in above our shins. The gravelly sand was sharp on my feet in the beginning, but by the time I was back at the tent I couldn't feel it any more .
****** hell this is cold!
Probably also cold
Who's stupid idea was this?!
It took quite a time to warm up from that, and after a wander around and some dinner, it was getting dark and time for bed. Early start in the morning .
Back down Glen Einich
Looking up Coire Dhondail
Dinner time with a view
Evening light on Braeriach
We got up at 2 or 3 am - not sure which as the clocks were going forward at precisely that minute. Fortunately by that time we were quite warm, and despite the temperatures outside being decidedly minus (probably -6 or -7 C), there was no breeze whatsoever and with all the stars on display, it was pretty spectacular. We were leaving the tent to collect on the way back, so it didn't take long to get ready.
What bloody time is it?
We were going to shortcut to the Coire Dhondail path, but rather than follow the path along the shore of Loch Einich, Jackie promptly led us over a pile of peat hags - clearly learning from the master . Once we picked up the path, the going was easier and we were able to make reasonable progress for a bit, torches showing the way, but with enough starlight to see the outlines of the hillsides. Wow
Typical view for the first 3 hours
After kicking footholds to cross a patch of snow, Jackie's headtorch ran out of power. She put it on charge and dug out her inferior backup headtorch - now we both had rather crappy lights!
After 15 minutes or so, her backup headtorch also ran out of power. She had a nice collection of spare batteries in her rucksack, all of them also dead . Fortunately her main torch had charged up sufficiently to work again.
The last snow patch we had crossed had been slightly dicy, and after spying the steep snow on the final exit from the corrie, we decided to put our crampons on...more messing around . Crampons were good for a bit, but the final snow slope looked quite imtimidating, so I took us on a detour straight up the slope to the left, crampons and all. This was a loose, mossy scramble that seemed a bit suspect since we couldn't see too far ahead. Jackie said afterwards that she hadn't really enjoyed that bit at all, particularly where it was making her overstretch her injured muscle. Not sure where her sense of adventure has gone .
Jackie heading for the plateau
Once off the steep slopes, we were able to find ourselves a lovely run of hard snow which led us the last 250m up onto the plateau without having to remove our crampons. As the ground levelled out, the light began to appear. Disappointingly the clear skies had also filled in, and visibility was patchy. Easy walking across to Braeriach (now without crampons), but not quite the weather we had been hoping for.
Finally getting light on the Braeriach Plateau
Nearly there – doesn’t look quite as good as we were hoping!
As we approached the summit, the clag cleared a bit to the north - it was certainly still a great place to be at 6:30am, impressive sunrise or not.
Clearing a bit to the north...
Things soon started improving though.....
This is more like it!
Cairn Toul and Sgorr an Lochain Uaine
30 minutes later we had seen everything we had hoped for and more. Although it was chilly, it was almost completely calm, so hanging around wasn't an issue. In fact it was all we could do to tear ourselves away from the summit, even though we knew there was more good scenery to see. Spectacular .
Down Coire Brochain
This bit is practically a glacier
Now fully light, we strolled back along the Garbh Choire edge of the plateau and over Carn na Criche. After a break, we thought about what to do next. Sgorr Gaoith seemed like a good idea, but we were already on for a long day (Jackie's longest by quite a bit since injury), so we decided to drop into the head of Loch Einich instead. As the path into A' Phocaid looked to be snowed up with hard snow in its highest parts, we opted for a direct descent into Coire Odhar. No before another break overlooking Loch Einich through - what a spot!
Looking back to the summit
Carn na Criche
Start of the Dee
Braeriach from Carn na Criche
Ridge to Sgorr an Lochain Uaine
Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mhor
SW across the Moine Mhor
Carn na Criche crags
More great cornices
Descending from Carn na Criche
Could be anywhere
Sgorr Gaoith and Loch Einich
Looking down on Loch Einich
We started aiming for Allt a' Choire Odhar, dodging around icy crags, before Jackie spotted a faint path dropping down the eastern side of the corrie, taking us along the eastern shore of Loch Einich and avoiding the awkward river crossings. The path wasn't great, but we went for it anyway.
Sgorr Gaoith crags
After some more heathery slithering, we were eventually at the head of the loch - it hadn't been as straightforward as it looked, but it worked. It would probably have been easier if the initial spotter of the path had kept more of an eye on where it went after we had joined it .
End of Loch Einich
A' Chailleach of Sgorr Gaoith
There was a rough path along the shore back to the tent. I managed to avoid stepping in any swamps (Jackie was less fortunate), and we were soon back where we had started far too many hours earlier. The idea of another swim appealed when the sun hit us, then rapidly went away when the breeze got up, however lightly - the contrast was extreme!
Walking out to the head of the loch
Back to the head of Glen Einich
Across the loch
Sgoran Dubh Mor
Time to take this down and head home
We started out with a fairly rapid frogmarch back down the glen, but were soon flagging. I was practically falling asleep on my feet and Jackie (who had managed to get more sleep than me) was feeling the effects of a long walk with a heavy bag. We were soon fantasizing about pies in Aviemore and someone giving us a lift in their landrover
Walking out down Glen Einich
Back to Sgoran Dubh Mor
Meall a' Bhuachaille
Carn na h-Eilrig
Finally at the car just before 3pm, it was pleasantly warm. Despite the lack of a properly charged up torch earlier in the morning, Jackie had managed to kill her car battery charging up her really essential GPS watch (well if it wasn't logged, it didn't happen... ), so we had to jump-start her car.
Braeriach from Whitewell
Cairn Gorm from Whitewell
The car was easily sorted, so we rounded off a brilliant weekend with another visit to the Winking Owl before heading our separate ways.
by PeteR » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:16 pm
by larry groo » Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:00 pm
- Posts: 495
- Joined: Apr 19, 2010
- Location: The Garioch
by Alteknacker » Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:11 pm
What a fine place Loch Einich is, though - scene of my last foray before all the medical s**t popped up. Looks even better in white, too!
by Collaciotach » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:06 pm
Funny my good lady has a watch just like Jackie's ..Aye if no logged hasn't happened
by gammy leg walker » Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:43 pm