Sgor Gaoith and Sgoran Dubh Mor via Creag Follais. March 2014

Date: Wednesday 12th March 2014
Distance: 21.3km
Ascent: 1100m

Last day of perfect weather – so many options. Braeriach was tempting, but the long walk in and out wasn’t. We had been exploring the Glen Feshie and Inshriach NNR over the winter and had thought of some new ways for us to wander up Sgor Gaoith so this got the thumbs up.

Parked at the Glider Club in Glen Feshie NH 858 033 – a later start again to allow for a westerly sun in the latter part of the walk.

Walked 2km south down the Glen Feshie road to NH 852 013. There’s a (relatively) new set of info boards at the start of a 6km approach to Sgor Gaoith. The track is marked on the 1:50000 OS running east into Coire na Cloiche, then south round Meall Tionaill to Allt a Chrom-alltain.

It’s a lovely start to the walk through Caledonian pinewoods. Evidence of red squirrels and crossbills in the pine cone debris. Saw one Crested Tit amongst a group of Coal tits.

Ignored a right hand branch at NH 859 011 which leads south to a bridge that isn’t on my map. This track is one for the future – fancy a wee look at the top of Creag Ghiuthsachan and Loch Ghiuthsachan (perhaps even a camp spot).

Creag Ghiuthsachan:

The path meanders uphill – a gentle walk. It was a bit hazy but we could see the Ben out past Creag Meagaidh.

Creag Meagaidh and the Ben:

The path remains reasonable quality all the way to Allt a Chrom-alltain.

H on path:

Slopes of Sgor Gaoith:

After a day in the winter boots and proper crampons we’d reckoned the surface would be fine with normal boots and flexible crampons. Stuck the Kahtoola steel poons on and wandered uphill.

Snowfield on west side of Sgor Gaoith:

The vistas open up to the west – on a clear day Sgurr na Ciche is visible, a haze layer under 1000m was restricting line of sight a bit.

Ben Alder and Geal Charn over Meall Cuaich:

Snowy hills of Sections 4 and 9:

H with Mam Sodhail and Carn Eighe behind:

The snow slope went from 600m up to 1050m, confluent and smooth. Quite a long tramp – carried us through the height layers of Grahams, Corbetts and quite a lot of the Munros before it eased off at Moine Mor level.

Suddenly it was flat and white.

Carn Ban Mor – big white flat round hill:

Across Moine Mor:

A few ptarmigan around.

Guard of the Winter Palace:

There were a few groups of walkers on the inter-munro route – about 3 groups of 4-6 walkers.

Walkers on Moine Mor backed by Schiehallion and Ben Lawers:

Our route from last May across Moine Mor to the south .looked very white

Drop into Glen Eidart:

Crossed Carn Ban Mor to get a look into Gleann Einich – sheet ice and a gusty westerly had me staying a good bit back from the edge.

Headwall of Gleann Einich:

Braeriach has 6 high level scalloped coires on its W and NW side – all floored at about 900m. Seen from afar they’re very recogniseable. Nice to see from closer in.

Multi-corried Braeriach:

The summit spire of Sgorr Gaoith is recogniseable from the south.

Sgor Gaoith approach pano:

Sgor Gaoith summit:

A bit icy on the last few metres to the summit – but with reassuring rock visible at least there was no cornice. A precipitous viewpoint.

South from Sgor Gaoith:

Sgor Gaoith summit pano:

Braeriach’s western corries:

NE to Glenmore:

K on summit:

The summit is small in area and was icy all around, additionally there were about 15 walkers converging on it so we took our leave and headed N a km to the summit of Sgoran Dubh to have our lunch.

Sgoran Dubh has less of an eagle’s eye view of Gleann Einich but does have a nice view of Sgor Gaoith.

H near Sgoran Dubh:

Sgor Gaoith from Sgoran Dubh:

Sgor Gaoith and Coire Dhondail:

Walkers on Sgor Gaoith:

Sat around for an hour or so just looking at the view. A bit of a cooling breeze but air temps were above freezing so it was comfortable to sit around in.

Eventually packed up and headed down the north side of Sgoran Dubh – a 200m snow slope down to the 900m snowline on this side.

Winter down into spring:

View back up Sgoran Dubh:

Took a few minutes to visit Sgoran Dubh Beag, another precipitous view down to the glen.

Coire Dhondail and Coire nan Clach on Braeriach:

Looking down we spotted an adult Golden Eagle circling below us. Unfortunately we (or it) spooked a ptarmigan which promptly flew off south along the cliffline with the eagle in hot pursuit.

The eagle missed it, and then carried on south out of sight.

Departing goldie:

Took off the crampons at the bottom of the snow field and found some ptarmigans on spring break out of the snow. The female was hiding between 2 rocks.

Female ptarmigan:

When she got up and departed the male came running back, posing on a rock and calling for her.

Male ptarmigan:

The remainder of the walk was an easy bimble along the ridge north to the Argyll stone, with changing angles on the west of Braeriach (lit by an afternoon sun).

Sgoran Dubh and Braeriach pano:

Northern arms of the Cairngorms:

North-western aspect of Braeriach:

There are 2 stones named on the OS Clach Choutsaich and the Argyll Stone (Clach Mhic Cailein). Visited them both. The remains of one hare, rendered eagle fodder probably, were passed.

Clach Choutsaich:

Sgoran Dubh and Braeriach:

Argyll Stone:

Pano from Argyll Stone:

Headed west down easy terrain towards the weather station on Creag Follais – there’s a significant stalker’s path runs up the SW side of this hill, marked on the 1:50000 OS.

A solitary Golden Plover whistled once, then was quiet.

Quickly drops down 200m to the forest.

Sgoran Dubh from Creag Follais descent:

A lovely walk down through older pine woods to the forest track and bridge at NH 881 045.

Caledonian pine woods:

Low sun on pines:

From the bridge it’s about 2km back on track to the car – past a couple of colossal wood ant nests (the residents only just active).

A cracking walk on the quieter aspect of this munro – quite a few possible routes to explore in the NNR for us as well.


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