The weather was forecast to get warmer, but was cold and clear when I arrived on the Saturday evening. On the Sunday morning, Mick and I walked into Coire an t-Sneachda. Mick is hoping to complete a winter ascent of the Munros this winter, and so climbing some easy gullies on the first day was technically slowing him down. We did manage to summit Cairngorm (1244m), however, but not before climbing 'Jacob's Ladder' and 'Aladdin's Couloir'.
|Mick Hunter, Jacob's Ladder,|
Coire an t-Sneachda
|Jacob's Ladder, Mess of Pottage,|
Coire an t-Sneachda
Jacob's Ladder is a gully that bounds the right-hand side of Mess of Pottage butress, which gives 110m of easy climbing to then have a crux exit, which turned out to be a reasonable cornice when we climbed it. Aladdins Couloir, conversely, bounds the left-hand side of Aladdins Buttress, having an easy ice pitch in its narrow middle section when in condition. Both gullies were good-value climbing with Mick and I refining our bucket seat technique along the way.
|Andy McQue, Aladdin's Couloir,|
Coire n t-Sneacdha
Day 2 - Monday 19th December
The avalanche forecast did not inspire confidence and so climbing gullies was out of the question. In stead we climbed Bynack More (1090m), beginning from Glen More Lodge. The ascent was gradual, but arduous with the wind speed nearing extreme at times. Bynack More has several false summits with the main summit having a big cairn. From the summit of Bynack More we descended to Bynack Beg and then to Strath Nethy and back to Glen More Lodge. Mick and I had both taken something from the day; we had practiced navigation and dug a snow pit to evaluate the snow pack. Worringly, there were two weak layers observed in our snow pit.
|Mick Hunter, Bynack More (1090m)|
Day 3 + 4 (Exped), Tuesday 20th & Wednesday 21st December
Our mini expedition had an objective of 6 Munros. Did we suceed? It was an early start and we were away at 7:30am. We had packed our exped packs the evening before to give us the best chance of summiting 4 Munros on the first day.
|Wild terrain, Southern Cairngorms viewed|
from Braeriach (1296m)
We started from Sugar Bowl car park, cutting through Chalamain Gap and dropping down into the Lairig Ghru, before making a long ascent up onto Braeriach (1296m), our first Munro of the day. From Braeriach, we traversed around to Sgor an Lochaine Uaine (Angel's Peak), our second Munro of the day. We then descended slightly to then pull up onto Cairn Toul (1291m), our third Munro. At this point we were both feeling jaded, but continued in good kilter to reach Devil's Point (1004m), our fourth Munro of the day. The light was beginning to fade on Devil's Point and it was dark by the time we reached the Corrour Hut. What a day!
The next morning we were up early again as we knew it was going to be another big outing. From the Corrour Hut, it was a wake up call as we ascended up onto Carn a' Mhaim (1037m), our fifth Munro on day 2 of exped. The warm weather had finally prevailed and the snow had softened to make breaking trail difficult. The ridge line on Carn a' Mhaim proved easier, however, and we were soon making the long pull up onto Ben Macdui (1309m). Wow, what a summit! We had succeeded in our objective but still needed to traverse the Cairngorm plateau and descend ChoireChais back to the Sugar Bowl car park. This we did, in South-Westerly gales, arriving back at the Sugar Bowl car park just before dark. What an exhilirating experience.
|Mick Hunter, Ben Macdui (1309m)|
The following day the mountains had been stripped of snow and this signalled the end of a 4-day adventure in the Cairngorms. Already I can't wait to get back there as I had spied some lines during my time there!
Summary: 4-day adventure in Cairngorms with Mick Hunter.
Day 1 - Jacob's Ladder, Aladdin's Couloir & Cairngorm (1244m)
Day 2 - Bynack More (1090m)
Day 3 - Braeriach (1296m), Sgor an Lochaine Uaine (Angel's Peak 1258m), Cairn Toul (1291m), & Devil's Point (1004m).
Day 4 - Carn a' Mhaim (1037m) & Ben Macdui (1309m).