Braeriach – approach via Coire an Lochain. March 2009

Date: Saturday 21st March 2009
Distance: 28.5km
Ascent: 1260m

Just a quick report of a jaunt over Braeriach with rather uncooperative weather.

We’ve been up Braeriach twice, once from the W end of Loch Morlich, past Rothiemurchus Lodge and on up Sron na Lairig (SMC advise use of the car park at NH 985 075 and then accessing Lairig Ghru via the ankle-snapping boulders of the Chalamain Gap), the other time via the excellent stalkers path up Coire Dhondail at the end of Gleann Einich.

Looking at Braeriach from Aviemore I’ve always liked the look of the northern Corries (Coire an Lochain, Coire Ruadh and Coire Beanaidh. The presence of a track from Gleann Einich into this region suggested a possible ascent route.

Parked up at Coylumbridge, near the Caravan site. The sun was up, the air incredibly hazy.

As usual a pleasure to walk through the Caley pines of Rothiemurchus. A tawny owl was still up and noisy, the wood ant nests have woken from slumber and spring repairs are up and running.

There’s a great view from Whitewell over the huge bowl of Glen More with Cairngorm and Braeriach rising up in the south, Carn Eilrig standing fore as a prow.

Hazy pines:

Lots of frog spawn around. Frogs in Lochan Deo:

Still air – some interesting reflections:

The track leaves the Caledonian pines to give a view down towards Sgoran Dubh Mor:

made good progress out along the track and into the glacial valley that is Gleann Einich.

The path branches off at NH 925 030. It’s small but still clear of heather. Good progress up the flank of Carn a Phris-Ghiubhais. Probably worth staying a few hundred metres N of Beanaidh Beag as the heather is very low and easy walking.

Cut S across Beanaidh Beag and simply strike uphill. The slopes are rock-strewn but they are sparse and it’s lovely low Cairngorms moss/lichen type terrain, very easy walking.

Finally close enough to see the route up (bare arm on the left):

I think any of the 3 north-facing spurs could be used for ascent, the broad area W of Coire an Lochain looked very benign but was still snow-covered so we used the sharper ridge between Coire an Lochain and Coire Ruadh.
The weather was closing in now – temps dropped and the tops covered.

Nearly up to the 1000m Coire an Lochain:

The ridge was very nice – it had thawed completely and was an easy amble with almost no boulder-hopping.

Reached the summit plateau. At this point it got a bit Gormsy. The plateau had held its snow and the mist was well and truly down, the wind was well and truly up.

It’s one thing knowing that the cliffs of Coire Ruadh are behind you and the cliffs of Coire Bhrochain are 400m SE but when you’re walking on confluent whiteness and the surrounds are white, the nagging doubt that you may be about to walk out into nothing (or drop through a cornice) started to intrude in a very unwelcome manner.

Anyway carefully navigated to the summit, no views at all and the rain had hit to add to the mist and wind.

We had a couple of descent options but plumped for the trade route down Sron na Lairig. Met a few walkers on their way up.

The Sron na Lairig route remains above 1000m for quite a long way and then drops quickly into the Lairig Ghru. The erosion of the lower end is quite shocking, don’t remember this being so bad in 2004.

There’s a new path from the base of this to the Lairig Ghru and then it’s a few km on a boulder path to escape this pass.

We cut left to rejoin the Rothiemurchus path network, through the Caley pines and Juniper bushes. Across the Cairngorm Club footbridge and then back to the car.

Irritatingly Braeriach cleared as we tracked back through the forest and was in sunshine by 1600hrs.

Such is life.

Anyway, we liked this ascent route – fun and quiet. Musing an overnighter going up this way, camping near the summit or Loch nan Cnapan, and then walking out over Sgor Gaoith and on to the Argyll Stone. The circumnavigation of Loch Einich – one for later in the year I think.

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