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Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned


Postby fipriestley » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:03 am

Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui, Carn a'Mhaim

Date walked: 21/04/2012

Time taken: 15.25 hours

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Oh dear... hindsight is a wonderful thing! :roll: Still cringing at what a ditz I am :oops: but what an experience! :D

Parked at Linn of Dee and 5 of us set off at 7.45am - 2 cycling to Derry Lodge and 3 of us met up with them just after. Louise and I were keen to do the full route of Carn a'Mhaim, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm.. :think: OK, I was keen and gave my pal some encouragement! Original thought some weeks ago was just to do Ben Macdui on this trip. The more experienced voices of reason in our group told us it would take around 12 hours but we figured we had an early start - and head torches. Even so, we agreed we should start with one and take stock again after that.
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Carn a'Mhaim in full view
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Carn a'Mhaim snowline
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Cairn Crom and beyond

Louise and I were going at a more leisurely pace, enjoying the views and chatting. We could see the other 3 ahead and visibility was good. So when we came to deeper snow we stopped to get in touch with the inner child :D :lol:
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snow angel :)
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Ben Macdui
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Carn a'Mhaim summit - they'd made a mini snowman while waiting for us! :D

It had taken us 4hrs to get here but what views! :D One of our group turned back after this as he was on a deadline and had already done this route before, so then we were 4.
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Glen Geusachan and Devil's Point
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Corrour Bothy below Devil's Point
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ridge to Ben Macdui, looking on to Braeriach
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looking back to Carn a'Mhaim

Climbing Ben Macdui was more of a challenge in the snow as it was very rocky going up Allt Clach nan Taillear. Again Louise and I took our time with more frequent stops. By now my camera was warning that the batteries were running low :idea: should have recharged them before this trip, or brought spares. So I didn't take pics or get a video of our snowballs racing down the hill, splitting and joining, looking like a snow hare race :lol: :lol:

By the time we reached the summit we were in thick clag, near whiteout, but as well as the other 2 in our group there were another 2 pairs of walkers up there so plenty of footsteps and the odd rock peeking through the snow. We didn't hang about in the snowfall and decided to retrace our steps to the bealach rather than continue to Derry Cairngorm.
SDC13301.JPG
Ben Macdui summit :)

Coming back down Ben Macdui, once past those rocks that wanted to trap your feet every few steps :o we were back on to lovely soft snow... perfect for bum slides, woohoo!! :D :lol: :D We caught up with the other half of our group on the bealach and agreed the route back through Glen Dee, although longer, would be easier than the alternative through Allt Carn a'Mhaim. This made for a steep descent but once down on the track we told the other pair they didn't need to keep stopping to wait for us as this was the track that would take us all the way back past Derry Lodge and they would be cycling from there anyway. :idea: should have checked map to confirm the route right to the car park before parting company.
SDC13302.JPG
back on the track at Glen Dee


Of course it wasn't until we were on our own that we realised we had no way of telling the time - Louise's watch battery had stopped on the way up Ben Macdui and I had left my phone back in her car ( :think: well, we were going in a group and I only ever use it for taking photos anyway!!); she didn't have her phone either and I didn't have a watch. :idea: Should always take my phone, fully charged - it's a clock, camera, point of contact (signal permitting) and although I've not used this, it can be a GPS. Neither of us use a dedicated GPS although I'd just got one the week before... then left it sitting on the kitchen table at home before heading to Braemar for the weekend :shock: Still no worries though, we were on the home straight and both had head torches :D

An hour and a half later I managed to get one last picture as we rounded the corner to catch sight of Derry Lodge - glad camera gives me plenty warning and doesn't just stop when the batteries are out. It dawned on me I could check the time on here too by going in to the camera settings... 6.10pm (I thought!) so plenty daylight left.
SDC13306.JPG
Looking on to Derry Lodge
:idea: should have changed camera settings when the clocks went forward, or at least remembered that the time stamp would be an hour out! By now we'd had a couple of stops for snack bars and water but feeling relieved knowing we had just 1 hour left to go from the Lodge. So once across Luibeg Bridge and heading through Glen Luibeg we opened the last packet of nuts and raisins.

Passing Derry Lodge we both dropped gloves and struggled to pick them up. :o Paused for a few stretches and sips of water, we put on our head torches in readiness as it was already dusk. :idea: Should have realised it was later than we thought, based on that last camera check - we knew sunset would be around 8.20pm.

As we crossed the bridge over the river the rain was back on, but we were pleased we both recognised this crossing. :D Torches now on, we checked Louise's OS map again... causing it to be taken out of the map bag so it could be turned over and we could see the final stretch back to the car park, which must be close now (so having no water or food left between us wasn't a problem!).

When we finally got back to the car and I checked the time on my phone, it was 10.57pm :shock: :? We'd literally just got there and taken our packs off when others in our original group drove up... if we hadn't been at the car park by now they'd have called for help :problem: SO glad they didn't arrive 5 mins earlier!

Now I've had time to think about where we went wrong I'm utterly ashamed :oops: :shock: ... when we turned that map over, we both completely ignored all sense of direction. :idea: Never forget basic navigation! and check the route, even when in a group, to know at least roughly the direction of travel! Picking out our path on the OS map (which I now realise was the East-West path! :? ) we could see our car park was just on the left, when trees were on both sides of us, just after a turning to the right, but before we came to waterfalls. So when we reached the Car Park sign pointing to the right we checked the map again (now in complete darkness, using head torches) and could see the turning on the right did indeed eventually lead to another car park.

Hmm, much confusion :? but we basically kept going then turned back again when we came to louder water ( :think: gone too far if we're at the waterfall!) and tried a couple of paths in to the woods on our left before heading back to the main track when we were sure this was wrong. :idea: Pay attention to turnings when following others! Neither of us could remember which way we'd turned coming out of the woods this morning - it didn't even feel like the same day by now!

Eventually I was cold enough to put on a fleece (just base layer and waterproof jacket all day - hadn't been a cold one until now) and pulled out my map bag too. Louise's map was getting soaked by now :( Mine was only a print out from WH but clearly had the route marked on it, showing the car park was on the right after all :o :shock: :? So we went back up the now more familiar track and found that sign, still not convinced this was right. :think: Why would my map be so different! HUGE sighs of relief when we finally saw the reflection of licence plates through the trees and Louise's car responding to her key remote :D :D
SDC13309.JPG
last part of my WH printout

Not put off by the day but this sure was a wake up call about being over-ambitious and far more observant and alert and making use of the map with the route marked out on it! :)
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby nomorework » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:11 am

Amazing adventure, glad you got back safely. Take the garmin next time :lol:
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby Fudgie » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:58 am

I bet the first thing you did when you went home was put the GPS in your rucksack :D
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby kevsbald » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:05 am

Very interesting report. It seems we are going back into Winter!
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby dogplodder » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:16 am

I was starting to feel a bit tense reading that! Glad you made it out in time. :D

It's when you think you know the way you're more likely to miss a turning and it's more difficult in the dark. Returning from Braeraich in failing light my pal and I made a wrong turn in Rothiemurchus forest and added another half hour to an already long day! :oops:
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby Sabbathstevie » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:28 pm

Really enjoyed this - not in a morbid way but any honest reports of where mistakes are made are good learning points for those of us who are less experienced. I want this route to be my first venture into the Cairngorms proper, though I still have a long way to go in terms of stamina building to get there - it would have probably taken me another couple of hours at least! :lol: thanks for sharing
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby brpro26 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:55 pm

A big day for being back in winter conditions. Glad there was a happy outcome for you and Louise.
I'll be having words with NY about leaving you both to find your way back, even although you said it would
be ok, he should know better. However did redeem himself by coming back for you...or was that guilt?
It's all good experience for the next time. :wave:
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby Louise993 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:32 pm

brpro26 wrote:A big day for being back in winter conditions. Glad there was a happy outcome for you and Louise.
I'll be having words with NY about leaving you both to find your way back, even although you said it would
be ok, he should know better. However did redeem himself by coming back for you...or was that guilt?
It's all good experience for the next time. :wave:



Oh please don't have words with NY . We kept on telling him to go away :? . and ultimately it was our responsibility and he was great putting up with us the whole day as it was :-)

Fantastic day
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby scoob999 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:05 pm

Another good honest report Fi
Would love to comment, but i'm in no position too :lol:
Easy mistake to make and recovered well :D next time you wont make the same mistake :D
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby brpro26 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:18 pm

Louise993 wrote:
Oh please don't have words with NY . We kept on telling him to go away :? . and ultimately it was our responsibility and he was great putting up with us the whole day as it was :-)

Fantastic day


It wasn't going to be bad words just a bit of good natured leg pulling. Hindsight's a great thing to learn from.
Wish I could tell him to go away sometimes...only kidding. :lol:
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby adamarchie » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:30 pm

Well done for making the most of those beautiful snowy conditions!

As you say, learn from the mistakes. (Though hard to believe there wasn't a kitchen sink in that red rucksack you've photographed on the top of Macdui - never mind a GPS, mobile phone, flares, Kendal Mint Cake etc. How big is that pack?! :D )

To have some fun at my own expense though, I had a 9.45pm finish that same day, having set off for the Sgurr na Ciche three on the edge of Knoydart at 1.45pm. Oops. (See separate post soon!)
Last edited by adamarchie on Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby mgmt! » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:58 pm

good honest report, we all make mistakes and its how we learn, im always against splitting up though, set off together, return together. :)
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby fipriestley » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:18 am

nomorework wrote:Amazing adventure, glad you got back safely. Take the garmin next time :lol:

Thanks Colin, will do (but see next comment!) :)
Fudgie wrote:I bet the first thing you did when you went home was put the GPS in your rucksack :D

I need to learn how to use it first :roll: Can pick out current co-ords but still to suss out how to programme a route.. guess I'll have to read the instructions after all :lol:
kevsbald wrote:Very interesting report. It seems we are going back into Winter!

Yes but that soft snow is great fun! :D Crampons weren't needed.
dogplodder wrote:... It's when you think you know the way you're more likely to miss a turning and it's more difficult in the dark...

Definitely! Thanks dogplodder, glad you made it out safely too :)
Sabbathstevie wrote:Really enjoyed this - not in a morbid way but any honest reports of where mistakes are made are good learning points for those of us who are less experienced.

Thanks, glad to help! This forum's great for that so I'm please to give back :D You'll enjoy it when you get out there!
scoob999 wrote:Another good honest report Fi
Would love to comment, but i'm in no position too :lol:
Easy mistake to make and recovered well :D next time you wont make the same mistake :D

Thanks Stuart, at least you really needed them... couldn't imagine having Mountain Rescue out looking for us when we were so close to the car park!! :shock: :lol:
adamarchie wrote:...Though hard to believe there wasn't a kitchen sink in that red rucksack you've photographed on the top of Macdui - never mind a GPS, mobile phone, flares, Kendal Mint Cake etc. How big is that pack?! :D ...

This made me literally LOL! :lol: :lol: Louise was carrying a lot 'just in case' but apart from plasters for her blisters we must have hit every other eventuality that she hadn't covered :o Or maybe the bag just looks big on her smaller frame :wink: Look forward to your report!
mgmt! wrote:good honest report, we all make mistakes and its how we learn, im always against splitting up though, set off together, return together. :)

Thanks, definitely learned from this one! We were quite happy with the group though, more keen that we could go at a different pace and not hold up others. Besides, we'd been on a navigation course and a weekend of winter skills training :roll: :lol:
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby jonny616 » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:40 am

Getting home safe is the may thing. Enjoyable read 8)
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Re: Ben Macdui - fun in the snow and lessons learned

Postby monty » Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:24 am

Nice report Fi. Love the snow angel :lol: I quite often take little notice of the start of a walk keen to get going etc only to find when I return it doesnt quite look the same :lol: :lol: Glad you made it out safely. :D
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