Loch Einich circumnavigation November 2009

Date: Weekend 7-8th November 2009
Distance: 41.2km
Ascent: 1800m

Was watching the forecast carefully over the week – a low pressure swirl seemed to be making forecasting difficult but the general potential for a high camp was there. πŸ˜€

Friday night and it was a toss up between the Fisherfield Deargs and the Cairngorms. The β€˜Gorms won.

We had been poised for a Braeriach wild camp in March 09 but had converted to a day walk due to poor conditions. Our previous 2 ascents had also delivered less than favourable conditions. Thought we’d set this to rights.

Arrived at Coylumbridge at 0830 with a lovely blue sky. We love the walk in through the Rothiemurchus Caledonian forest (although we were so busy looking at things that we ended up at the Cairngorm Club footbridge and had to cut over to the Gleann Einich track 😳 ).

Lochan Deo:

The track into Gleann Einich is attractive and the pines at the foot of Gleann Einich make the walk a pleasure.

Sgoran Dubh Mor hoves into view:

At NH 925 029 there’s a path running E round the S flank of Carn a Phris-ghiubhais. We stuck to the low heather to the N of the Allt for a good distance this time before turning S at around NH943 023.

After our March walk this way I read in my pre-1930 SMC Cairngorms book that this was the trade route up Braeriach prior to the building of the ski road. It’s now very, very quiet. πŸ™‚

The slopes look bouldery but in truth it’s mostly boulders in good Cairngorm grit that allows an easy amble.

When you cross the 800m contour and you’re above Carn Eilrig and starting to see out to the Moray Firth and you realise you’re still 500m below the top you start to get a feel for the height of Braeriach.

Our route took us again up the ridge between Coire Lochan and Coire Ruadh – doubt either of these will get any sun til March. 😯

The ridge looks steep in it’s upper reaches but in truth it’s a doddle.

We took a step into winter as we crossed the 1100m contour and reached the snowline. Just a thin layer of poorly consolidated snow.

At this point we noted cloud flowing up over Sgor Gaoith and coming over the top of Braeriach and I thought our curse would strike again.

Broke out onto the summit plateau in a mixture of sun, mist, fog bows. πŸ˜€

Thankfully the clouds parted and the cairn hove into view – it looks easy in the clear but boy do all those cliffs make my skin crawl in a white-out. 😯

A walk over to the cairn – what became apparent was that everything south and west was buried under cloud and that the cloud ceiling was about 1250m!

At first just Macdui, Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochan Uaine visible but the inversion slowly sank a bit over the next hour.

Snow mushrooms and avoiding them:

Ambled across the plateau past the Wells of Dee – still flowing, looking for a tent pitch was tricky but we identified a flat grassy patch and cleared the snow and pitched on Carn na Criche.

Had about 30mins before the sun crossed behind the clouds to the west at 1610hrs. The temperatures then took a nosedive. 8)

Wandered round the summit taking the views and cooked tea on the Meths stove.

Retired to the tent for some chilled Ozzy shiraz and then got up again around 2000hrs to admire the starscape and rising half-moon.

Tent:

Moonshadows:

The amount of light pollution from the Central Belt was eye-opening to say the least.

And so to bed – very cold, thermometer has -5C in the tent at points and the water bladders froze up. At 0300 I could see individual street lights from Fife (I think).

Up at 0700 – very nippy. Advantage of a frosty tent is the water rubs off. More wanderings round the summit – this time with no cloud impairing the views west and south.

A self-portrait – so you can recognise us on the hill:

Carn na Criche Cairn to Ben Alder:

Messy camp:

Set off at 0920 down the SW side of Braeriach – easy-peasy.

Link to pano of S and W from descent

Sgor Gaoith cliffs:

Passed the marker cairn for the brilliant Coire Dhondail stalkers path and on down to Moine Mhor.

Edged round the lip of Gleann Einich. This is where the old 900m glacier plunged down to gouge out loch and Gleann Einich.

Loch Einich pano:

Link to larger pano

The terrain was better than expected and eventually linked up with the path running up the cliff-line to Sgor Gaoith.

Back up Braeriach:

Loch Einich:

First folks of the day around Sgor Gaoith – great views too for only our 2nd time out of 6.

Braeriach:

Link to larger pano

A bite to eat and pressed on to Sgoran Dubh Mor.

Buzzed by gliders along the way.

Braeriach from Sgoran Dubh Mor:

From there lovely walking on the ridge to Creag Dubh and the Argyll Stone – another bit of the β€˜Gorms we’ve been keen to see.

Ascent ridge for Braeriach:

Gleann Einich:

Drop to Cadha Mor – nice view of Loch an Eilein – spent a number of great early mornings down there. 8)

Braeriach:

Then made for the track home – lost the sun to shade from here.
Rothiemurchus forests still had Cresties, coal tits, goldcrest, black grouse and red deer for us as the twighlight approached.

Orange skies and pine.

Back to the car 15mins after sunset – another great Cairngorms weekend. Wonder what the Fisherfield Deargs would have been like.

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