Creag Meagaidh

Route: Coire Ardair, Creag Meagaidh

Munros: Creag Meagaidh

Date walked: 04/05/2019

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 17.5km

After rushing off Coire Ardair the last time I was up in February to watch the rugby, I was keen this time to ascend the Coire and climb up the Window to Creag Meagaidh to finish off the circuit. My mate Mat who joined me was keen to have a look at some of the classic climbs so would make a great day. The night before, the snow fell fast and thick (in May!) and what was a clear set of spring hills the day before had turned into a more wintery affair today. We started off from Creag Meagaidh reserve car park (ref- 481872) at Aberarder. After heading straight we took the track past the farm that climbed slowly into the woods towards Coire Ardair.
Route into Coire Ardair after forest

The group of walkers from hotel ahead of us

It is satisfying to walk somewhere where you've been to before and we enjoyed the walk. By the time we got to Lochan A Choire, the weather was changing. Dark clouds were looming and a wintery chill started. It was ironic, I had 3 trips to Scotland in the winter with no snow, and I come up in May and get snow! I had left my winter jacket at home so wasnt expecting this. Luckily I had another fleece in my sac so stuck that on. On the way up we bumped into a group who were staying in the same hotel the night before and had a wee chat. We let them race up ahead of us as we were too busy chatting!
Walking towards the window in the distance

Coire Ardair

The views of the Coire were great. You tend to get this ominous feeling as you head up closer to the Bealach.
The "Window" was covered in loose snow this time, much different from February which was more like summer!
After a slow steep climb up (for me) I caught up with Mat at the bealach. It took about 3 hrs from the start to reach the bealach.
Steep climb up to the Window

Mat climbing up

A Wintery window

Some of the gullies

The group were deciding to do the closer Munro (Stob Poite Coire Ardair) leaving their sacs there. As we were only doing Meagaidh, after some scran, we said our goodbyes and headed south following a set of fences climbing up.
View from the window

Snow starting to build

At the top of the plateau the weather changed for the worse. The wind picked up and snow/hail flurries set in. The calmness of the weather at the window had left us. There were cornices hanging off the crags too.
Cornices at top

With the plateau covered in snow, and visibility poor, we took a rough bearing SW and using the north crags as a hand rail we eventually reached the large cairn.
Walking to the first cairn

Top of first cairn

Although impressive we were aware this wasnt the real top. From here we took another bearing to get to the top.
Top of Creag Meagaidh

Minimal visibility and gales

At the top we didnt hang around - no visibility and full on arctic conditions. Again we took a bearing to Puist Coire Ardair. This being 2km approx away, we knew our navigation had to be spot on in these conditions, with steep crags either side of it the last thing we wanted was to walk over a cornice! Although it was May, we did see the evidence on the way up so were cautious of the risks. So, with a mix of leap-frogging and pacing by the time we got to Puist Coire Ardair, that 100m decent made all the difference as we started to walk out of the winter conditions. We could see we were bang on in the middle of the ridge.
Coming out of the storm

At this point with visibility back we could enjoy the views from the top of Coire Ardair such a fantastic massif. We saw the route we had taken earlier in the day.

Coire Ardair from the top

Impressive views

The walk along the broad ridge was enjoyable. The last difficult bit was getting off it...the descent we took was quite steep and required careful footing on the wet heather.
Steep descent

Faint track back

I dont think there's any good way off it and didnt see a path. I did find a colourful woolen Mountain Equipment beanie on my descent, so if anyone is missing one let me know! there was a group ahead of us,. At the bottom of Sron a Choire there was a faint track (not on the map) that eventually changed into a track that led over the bridge at Aberarder. The track then took us though the wooded trail and back to the car park.
Bridge at bottom back to carpark

Although the day took longer than expected, it was really enjoyable to finally get a bit of Winter in (even though it was in May...who says there's no global warming! )

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Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: Any with good Guinness:-)
Mountain: Bla Bheinn
Place: Glen Etive
Gear: Lowe Alpine Fleece Hat
Member: Scottish National Trust, Historic Scotland, BMC.
Ideal day out: A crisp sunny winter day with snow and not too scary crampon work!

Munros: 127
Corbetts: 2

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Joined: Oct 03, 2009
Last visited: May 12, 2019
Total posts: 132 | Search posts