Winter survives – Ben Macdui. March 2011

Date: Sun 6th March 2011
Distance: 21km
Ascent: 1100m

Good forecast for the Gorms – mission – have fun.

Set off from the Cairngorm Car Park at 0700. Cold temps made for comfortable walking.

Took the easy track heading for the west arm of Coire an Lochain. Red grouse were getting territorial:

Sunrise appearing on Meall a Buachaille:

Sun cresting Cairn Lochain:

More layers on at the 1083m mark – cold wind running up the Lairig Ghru. The hills ahead were shrouded in mist. Headed in on a rising traverse of Cairn Lochain, a bit higher than the summer track.

Navigation was made somewhat simpler by the motorway of tracks in the snow heading for Ben Macdui.

You never quite know how long you’ll be in the mist in the Gorms. Happily as we ascended through the 1200m mark we broke out of cloud.

Rather a high and choppy inversion – little showing below 4000ft. Chilly in the breeze too. Donned the toasty layers and sat down to enjoy the views.

Cairn Toul:

Bod an Deamhain looking small (it was cold):

Cairn Toul again:

West Lairig Ghru group:

A few other happy souls arrived at the summit:

Left the summit after an hour and wandered over to the N top – nice views back to Braeriach:

The N top has a great view of Loch Etchacan and Beinn Mheadhoin:


Carried on down the N top to Carn Etchacan – one of the best points in the Cairngorms I think. Pretty sublime view of Loch Avon and Beinn Mheadhoin. A really airy viewpoint about 500m N of the summit.

We’d wondered about wandering back up Macdui by another route to see if the inversion was dropping but it had been consumed by the mist again:

Decided to skirt the western lip of the Loch Avon trench instead and head over Cairn Lochain. There is a nice viewpoint for Loch Avon at about NH 993 015.


Heading up Cairn Lochain was like being in the Arctic (but warmer):

The cliff line is impressive A lot of climbers around:

Bimbled along the cliff line:

Then took a slanting descent off Cairn Lochain to reach a point 400m south of the 1083m point. A great view down Lairig Ghru from here if clear. Not so good today:

Then turned for the car. The Northern Corries make a fine backdrop to the walk home.

Busy doing nothing really – a great day in the Cairngorms. 🙂


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