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Fiacaill Ridge Scramble & Ben Macdui
by HighlandSC » Sun May 01, 2011 3:49 pm
Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui
Date walked: 25/04/2011
Time taken: 6 hours
Distance: 16 km
Ascent: 840m3 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 - Mon 25/04/2011
Title - Fiacaill Ridge Scramble & Ben Macdui
Route - Start at Ski centre car park. Ascend Fiacaill ridge to plateau and on to Ben Macdui. Descend path on W side of Coire an Lochain
Weather - Dry and breezy with clearing cloud & increasing sun
People - Me
Time - 6h
Distance - 16km
Ascent - 840m
Max Altitude - 1309m
I've had my eye on the Fiacaill ridge route for a while- During a navigation course in 2009 a guide pointed it out to me. Since then I've been to the Cairngorms a fair bit (going on to the plateau by most of the other usual routes from this side) and spotted others doing it. Malkys report on it also caught my attention.
I took this pic of it much later in the day during my return on the other side of Coire an Lochain:
I had no intention of going out this morning, but after looking at the forecast at 8am (saying excellent after midday) it seemed a perfect chance to take my time getting there and start walking late (12:30). I arrived at the ski centre car park about 11.45 to see there was still a lot of cloud but I sat and had lunch, watching the sky improve by the minute, then set off.
Took the path toward Coire an t-Sneachda before breaking off to the right, picking up the path leading toward the Fiacaill Ridge (Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda)
Went up a small patch of snow and the boulder field to gain the ridge proper
Looking left into Coire an t-Sneachda
Looking right into Coire an Lochain
Apart from a small section (which still isn't too hard) the scrambling is quite easy and enjoyable, however there are bypass paths if you didn't fancy it.
From here on I stuck to the rock on the ridge, enjoying the scrambling and fine views around me. There was a couple of climbers doing a route up the vertical wall of this buttress that plunges into Coire an t-Sneachda. There was also a couple of (extreme) skiers slowly plodding up the goat track in Sneachda. They took a breather at the top before skiing back down at some pace!
After the first rocky section of the ridge it flattens out briefly before you go on to the main section of scrambling to end the ridge
Looking across Coire an t-Sneachda to Cairn Gorm
Plenty of good grippy rock with holds aplenty
This is the crux section. It's not hard but I think this pic makes it look a little easier than it is. There's plenty of holds and I only found one move a bit tricky, resulting in downclimbing to have another look, before going for it. I'm tall and had to stretch quite far for one move- but I was probably missing an easier hold somewhere. As a beginner scrambler I had no problem with this route, and I'm sure anyone more experienced wouldn't think twice about most of it.
If you wanted to bail out you could take this way round the side of the difficulties and walk up as far as you like to the top if you wish
Looking back along the ridge
Once past the crux it's an easy clamber to the top
From the top of the corrie I decided to continue on to Ben Macdui
There was some large patches of snow dotted around, avoidable if you wish, but it was no problem to go over
For the next section up to Ben Macdui I got my head down and pressed on (not like me at all!), arriving at the summit in good time.
Nice views in every direction
It was now 5pm and there wasn't a soul to be seen anywhere. Nice to have Macdui and the plateau all to myself in the evening sunshine
360 degree pano from Ben Macdui summit (click to open LARGE)
After spending half an hour at the summit and sitting eating in one of the many shelters I packed up and left. As I walked off 1 lone walker was on his way up. I suspect he must have approached and departed from the east as I never saw him again.
I returned the same way, before breaking off to the left to return via the path on the W side of Coire an Lochain
Leaving Ben Macdui
As I crossed the plateau a huge ugly cloud formed above me and for a second I thought my luck had run out, but thankfully it passed over and the evening continued to improve on the day
Across the Lairig Ghru to the other giants
Approaching Coire an Lochain
Coire an Lochain. As I was walking down the path I heard what sounded like thunder in the corrie- I turned to look and see a few massive boulders hurtling down to the corrie floor. I was safely up on the ridge. Wouldn't have wanted to be in the corrie at that moment!
Looking across Coire an Lochain to the Fiacaill Ridge ascended earlier today
These 3 pics are from a previous trip, taken from the other side of the ridge in Coire an t-Sneachda. On this day I counted a group of 15 going up the Fiacaill Ridge
A stream of people begin the ridge
A few people in centre of this pic give some scale to it
All that remained now was a nice evening stroll down the path back to the car park
Looking over to the Chalamain Gap
Arriving back to a lone motor (thankfully it was my one) in the car park
The day was ending with a great sunset. If I'd had the time I'd have liked to stay up on the plateau to see it before returning. I did snap a few pics from the road home though
by Vick1 » Sun May 01, 2011 5:02 pm
Looking at your pics Im confident of gettin this done weather permitting
by malky_c » Sun May 01, 2011 5:38 pm
Perfect conditions for the ridge anyway, and good to see some nicely lit photos after my rather washed out ones. Looking forward to see how you got on with A' Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch Choire now, although no need to rush if you have more sunny days out planned
by HighlandSC » Sun May 01, 2011 5:47 pm
Malky, I've borrowed car. This long weekend and the last one I've stayed at my parents and taken full advantage- robbing their car for 4 hill days!
We had a perfect day on A' Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch Choire, culminating in a fantastic (albeit short) scramble over the pinnacles on the return. Report on the way.....sometime soon. Wont be tomorrow- pretty sure I'm going to go for Cul Mor. I'm sure there will be plenty more reports flood in tomorrow for you to get a hill fix from afar
by Stretch » Sun May 01, 2011 8:13 pm
by HighlandSC » Sun May 01, 2011 8:39 pm
I was actually planning on doing this that day I met you instead- that lump most likely saved me from having to abort an attempt at it. But yeah, there's nothing like walking a Drumochter lump to motivate you to seek out a bit more excitement next walk!
by Tenbob » Sun May 01, 2011 9:37 pm
by Alastair S » Sun May 01, 2011 10:31 pm
I went over this ridge on Friday on the way to Beinn Mheadhoin but didn't do it full on. It was fairly blowy so ended up going up a gully to the right - not exactly a stroll but certainly not as exposed as the head on approach. But it was my first (almost) major scramble so was taking it fairly steadily. Report in the next day or two.
Must have been something else to have experienced that rock fall. You think with most of the snow gone so has much of the danger but I suppose the melting snow & ice can still release its grip on slopes that have been broken up in the depths of winter.
by Scotjamie » Sun May 01, 2011 11:40 pm
now a must-do - its the way you tell em
by wilkiemurray » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:51 am
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