Carn Etchachan and a phenomenal day. December 2007

Date: Tuesday 18th December 2007
Distance: 18.2km
Ascent: 1050m

Day 4 – same old forecast – clear skies and sun!

Decided to go for a wander on the Cairngorm plateau – fast up and then bum around on the top. Wanted to go out to Carn Etchacan – the top of the Shelter stone cliffs between Coire Etchachan and Loch Avon. Got up in Nethy Bridge again thermometer stuck at -10C again, scraped the car then set off to get to the Cairngorm Car Park at 0730 to kick off an hour before dawn.

Headed up the access road for 15 mins then cut off onto the Fiacaill a Choire Cais access path. Trouble with chasing sunrise is there’s no slack – you make it or you don’t. Pushed the old legs to get to the main ridge.
Signs of incipient dawn all round – antisolar shadow off to the NW showed a deep purple band approaching the horizon and again the NW highland hills were visible, Stob Coire an t-Sneachda started to show well in the dawn light:

Pushed hard up the ridge to beat dawn – great views south-east to the inversion and orange sky:

Looking right the Alpenglow hit Cairn Toul over the cliffs – with an intrepid soul who was about 30mins ahead!

Great views across Derry Cairngorm to the inversion

Sun broached the horizon over Beinn Mheadhoin about 12 mins after we hit the ridge:

Spent the better part of an hour enjoying the dawn views all round, great colouring of the red granite:

Wandered towards Stob Coire an t-Sneachda – the snow was just about icy enough for crampons so we broke them out. Derry Cairngorm remained attractive:

After crossing Stob Coire an t-Sneachda sloped across Coire Domhain past a snowhouse great views:

Crossed the bealach and curved down into the Feithe Buidhe area, met a guy who was breaching Geneva Conventions by sending camrera phone images to his work from the plateau – I’d have killed him when he got back!

The RAF tried to get in on the day – 2 Tornadoes screamed over:

Skirted round the cliff lines to get views of Loch Avon:

Nice view to Lochnagar which had been buried by the inversion 48hrs before:

Curved round towards the Carn Etchachan ridge – would be difficult terrain to navigate in poor visibility, wasn’t an issue though. Crampons came off for the ridge, finally got a view of Loch Etchachan:

Loch Etchachan stitch:

Out along Carn Etchachan pass the cairn by about 100m to get the towering view over Loch Avon:

Loch Avon Stitch:

Decided to proceed up the E side of Beinn MacDuibh’s E top – crampons needed but a short hop to the top – fine views of the inversion:

Didn’t bother with the main top – headed for the W side of the E top for great views to Cairn Toul et al:

Really nice views of Braeriach:

Headed back along the previously described rout skirting Cairn Lochain – nice W view of Sgoran Dubh Mor and The Window:

Sun was getting low as we descended setting on the Buachaille as we came down:

Great walk and a recommended route any time of year but this was one of the highlights of 2007 for me.

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