A sleep in the old Ski Centre carpark and down to Glenmore Lodge by 5AM for my 61st Munro. I've been spoiled by the weather of late - feels like months since I've seen a Munro with its head in the clouds, but I wasn't hopeful on this occasion given an uncertain forecast and knowing that the high Cairngorms are very likely to go under on a day with even moderately low cloud.
There's not a lot to say about the walk - although it's long, the traditional brilliant Cairngorms path makes it a breeze until the final ascent; a final ascent which, as I approached it, was obscured by a huge cloud which had clung to Cairn Gorm in a miserable huddle all morning but detached itself as I approached.
I lost the path toward the top but it was fairly easy to keep making progress despite the fearsome and very cold wind, and fairly easy to find the path again on the way back down. I'd been looking forward to going on to the Barns and to A'Choinneach (sp?) to see the view down Loch Avon but given the conditions I elected to leave that for another day.
It wasn't a day for pictures, but here are a few anyway
The first time I saw the summit clear
Strath Nethy and Cairn Gorm on the right huddled in the cloud which blew across my summit all day
Looking back to Meall a'Bhuachaille; already a long way from the road here.
The view across to the even more remote Eastern Cairngorms. No idea how I'm going to get over to those.
The second time I saw the summit clear, as I approached it. It didn't last, alas
I got back to the car park five and a bit hours later (the path is equally easy back down - one of the best paths I've ever walked, beaten only by the truly wonderful one from Achlean up to Carn Ban Mor), amazed that given the menacing skies all day I hadn't actually been rained on. The sun came out just as I was taking my boots off at quarter past ten as other walkers started to arrive. I had a quick talk with a group of lads who were on their 8th Munro and had a bit of a laugh at my expense for having set out so early and been clouded out at the summit. They told me that if I read the right forecast websites, I'd know what time of day to set out for a clear summit. I had considered having the conversation with them that goes "the weather isn't actually influenced by which sites you read" but decided that - as we all do - they'd find that out for themselves at some point, probably a couple of hours later that day.
(as I drove past Loch Morlich and saw Cairn Gorm and its tops all clear, I wondered whether they were actually right and I should go back to the days of scouring forecast websites for positive news. As I turned out of Aviemore back to the A9, though, I saw the huge and menacing cloud back and angrier than ever, capping Cairn Gorm and Braeriach then extending all the way across Glen Feshie and thought, "well, you have to learn some time")
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