Archive for Cairngorms

Still Autumn in Ryvoan Pass

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , , on November 12, 2013 by Jinja Coo

A gentle walk in to Ryvoan Bothy, stopping a while at An Lochan Uaine to take in the reflections on it and admire the colours displayed by the trees surrounding it. The water level was much lower than on my previous visits and that together with the very still surface revealed a lot more of the dead trees and rocks lying both at and beneath the surface.

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At the bothy itself – a stunning spot – we lounged in warm, still air with the sun blazing down on us and found it hard to get going on our return leg.

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This was my fourth time walking (or running) in this neck of the woods and all of them have been this year. I’ve yet to see it in winter though, but hope to before long as it really is a gem of a place with no real effort required to enjoy it.

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Seasonal Adjustment in Glen Feshie

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , , on November 12, 2013 by Jinja Coo

Back to the Cairngorms sooner than expected and it was great to find the walk chosen was one that matched recent ideas I had had of my own for a visit here in future. We intended walking from Glen Feshie and walking the the two munros to the east, Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair and Sgor Gaoith.

We left the parking just north of Achlean farm and headed south then south east to the entrance to Coire Garbhlach, somewhere I was aware of as being worth a visit, and followed the southern ridge above it, gaining the bulk of our height for the day in one short, hard ascent.

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Colours on both sides of Glen Feshie had been gorgeous on the way in and there was a clear border separating this coloured zone from the higher ground above which was plastered white. At about 800m, we crossed this line and all colour was literally left behind us as we headed first for a black and white world, then later one that was almost entirely white. The views down in to the corrie were impressive but the snow was making us stay clear of edges which may or may not have been weak snowy ground above drops.

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Here something caught my eye, a dog? No people nearby, a deer then? Within a second probably I had discounted both and realised the bushy tail gave the answer, we were watching a fox run down the slopes of Mullach Clach a’ Blair in to a stream bed to our right which we expected it would follow, out of sight, back to lower and probably more fruitful ground. However, to our surprise it soon appeared, still running at a decent pace, about 50m in front of us heading for the very steep ground of Coire Garbhlach we had been looking down at. Very strange – only the second time I have seen a rural fox and not somewhere that made much sense for something that would be looking for food.

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Though we had had views out to other tops on our approach, we reached the plateau just as visibility started to deteriorate slowly. We did make it to the top of Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair in time to get some views to the south and west, but it was a hard earned summit with just over a kilometer of tough walking on knee deep, unconsolidated snow. Back at the top of the corrie, we had a bite to eat and some tea out of the chilling breeze before deciding to plod on towards Sgor Gaoith, in any case that was a logical route back to the car as a loop even if we changed our minds, which we eventually did.

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At first a high track provided easier walking and some navigational aid, by now we were in varying degrees of poor visibility, but once off the track, legs were quickly turning to rubber with the effort required walking in the deep snow. A skier was glimpsed a couple of times (or was it two different ones?) and they certainly had an advantage over us.

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Reaching the top of Carn Ban Mor, a top en-route to SG, we decided it was a good place to branch off west to the path that would lead us back to the starting point. An easy choice, we were pretty knackered and would save ourselves another 4km (return trip) of hard walking to a summit lost deep in cloud. No views to be had, not much point!

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The descent from freezing whiteout to a much balmier temperature and more colourful scene was pretty rapid and it was hard to believe it was the same day. We enjoyed some really nice lighting in Glen Feshie on our descent, something I’ve not been able to do justice with the camera, but it was pretty unusual and fantastic.

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A great walk and first taste of winter for a while, a definite change in season and therefore effort required. Can’t wait to get back in this neck of the woods to pay a visit to Loch Einich (again) and Sgor Gaoith from that side, another benefit of our decision to leave out this hill on this occasion. To be continued … soon I hope.

A Biggish Wander in the Cairngorms

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , , , , , , , on September 25, 2013 by Jinja Coo

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This was my first big walk in the Cairngorms for a number of years and covered new territory for the entire route.  Plans evolved along the way to suit the weather, starting with our initial intent to walk in the 10km or so to Loch Einich on the Friday evening and camp, being ditched due to heavy drizzle. Instead the local YH and the Bridge Inn’s bar were fallen back on for a more comfortable night.

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Next day was bright with plenty of blue in the sky and soon we were marching in along Gleann Einich with views improving along the way as pretty woodland was savoured before thinning out to give a wide panorama ahead of the Cairngorms and after an hour or so the views narrowed to be dominated first by the bulk of Sgor Gaoith and finally Loch Einich and its craggy surrounds.

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A brief and chilly rest was taken before our first ascent took us on to the plateau above revealing to us views of the walk ahead. The summit of Sgor Gaoith had shown changing levels of clag along its tops on our way in and sure enough to the south our destination, Monadh Mor, was slightly covered in cloud. Not too disappointing though, the plateau itself was a lovely carpet of oranges, yellows and greens and there were views far to the south west across lower ground cut across by a very silvery River Eidart.

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As we walked up and over Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain, we enjoyed more views down in to Glen Geusachan (and on occasion at the tops above it) where we would ultimately end up for the night. We had packed light with one one-man tent between us and had left the inner behind to allow us both to squeeze in. This actually proved a more than ample shelter in terms of space and thankfully the walls hugged the ground at the edges which kept out the strong gusts and occasional heavy showers through the night.

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With a big day ahead we rose early, but to less pleasant weather than had been forecast for the Sunday, it was grey, but dry at least, and still quite windy. Our first target after a traverse round the base of The Devil’s Peak, was Corrour Bothy where we had a nosey and some chat with folks just departing. Then it was the hard but seemingly short looking ascent up on to The Devil’s Peak. A relative minnow among giants, this was one of the best viewpoints I can remember in the hills; views up the Lairig Ghru, across to Ben Macdui, Carn a Mhain and Derry Cairngorm (just), east to Lochnagar and south along the River Dee’s first few kilometres, all enhanced by the shifting light, different colours and the numerous large, wet slabs on the hills reflecting the sunlight back at us.

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Conscious of time, we had to move on despite enjoying our pleasant, sheltered vantage point, and soon we were heading up, up and up to the larger neighbours of Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine. These had till now resolutely stayed clagged up and though we had discussed by-passing them with a lower, contouring traverse back to the top of Gleann Einich, thankfully we persevered as we timed reaching Cairn Toul’s summit with a gradual clearing and yet more impressive views. This clearing continued on for the rest of our route back to Gleann Einich granting us views north to Braeriach (almost tempting us) and Cairngorm. Some unfortunate walker, who sped past us on the way up and on his way down, commented on the conditions despite the better forecast, and missed out on the views by a few minutes.

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Our walk out seemed to take a long time and aches and pains were taking their toll on our pace, but it was well worth the effort on what had proved to be a great, hard earned walk. Anyway, what else could we do but just keep plodding on? There was a definite autumnal feel in the air, but we never heard or saw any deer, however, the colours on the ground were very autumnal and the numerous ptarmigan we saw were starting to show their winter colours developing ahead of its arrival.

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6th December, 2009 – First Attempt at a Winter Route of the Season

Posted in Climbing with tags on December 6, 2009 by Jinja Coo

Headed in to Coire an t-Sneachda with an aim to doing a route called the Slant.   However, snow along the way wasn’t promising and the slope up to the route and at the route start persuaded us to leave it for another day.   Others were not so put-off though and as we descended others headed up with various routes in sight; two romping the route we just left.

Good day out nontheless and a reminder of how heavy a winter pack is 😦

1st and 2nd March, 2008 – Climbing in the Cairngorms

Posted in Climbing, Hills with tags on March 2, 2008 by Jinja Coo

Weekend climbing in the Northern Corries near Aviemore with Jeremy. Unfortunately, my run of good weather on visits to the Cairngorms is over but it should be wintry some times in winter I suppose.

Saturday – 2nd Attempt at The Vent in Coire an Lochain

A second attempt on The Vent for me and first for Jeremy. The route looked good from the base and I set off for what would become the first go. After managing to get above the hardest section, (according to the route description anyway) I got some gear in and had a rest. It had been the hardest and scariest bit of climbing I have led in winter and so I was a bit knackered and worn out mentally. The next difficult bit was a short way above but once up there I realised I could not find any more safety placements even after digging about to reveal a few cracks and I chickened out at this point. Luckily another party had arrived and could tell Jeremy who could not see me from his anchor point that I was coming back and needed a tight rope.

The second attempt by Jeremy didn’t succeed either and so we now both have a reason to get back and try again but we also have an idea of what conditions will work and which won’t! We hung around after packing up to watch the second group have a go and we hoped they could retrieve for us our abandoned gear above the chock stone. It wasn’t to be though as they too were spat off at this point and they abandoned ship as well.

Sunday – Spiral Gully in Coire an t-Sneachda

In to the adjacent and closer corrie to try a route called Spiral Gully. An early start secured our route for us despite the place teaming with people and we had a brilliant time on it. The route itself was climbed in three and a half pitches with varying amounts of gear on each one from some to none! Just enough though not to be too uncomfortable and interest along the route was added at first, in the streams of spin drift pouring down on us then later, in the views around to others engaged on other routes in just about every direction.

After much hassle the day before with spin-drift snow getting in to everything, I decided to be nice to my camera and leave it in the car so no photos taken by me this day.