A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Cairngorm 4000ers

18-19 June 2016
A weekend based in the Cairngorms, hiking up the highest mountains in the area. Steven was leading...

photo 2 Ah, the Cairngorm 4000ers weekend, one of my favourite events. We try to do this slightly different each time, and this was no exception. Rather than backpacking like what we did last year, we opted for two seperate days, returning to Aviemore each day. Also, we were taking some less well trod routes to the summits.

photo 1 We (Paul, Lee Chris, Alan, Lynn and myself) met at the 'Sugar Bowl' car-park and got kit sorted. In overcast conditions, we headed down to the burn cascading from Coire Cas - the path along the eastern bank is still closed due to a landslide last year. Up and through the Carn a'Chlamain gap (chatting about some of its history), we headed down to the Lairig Ghru. It's a fair distance to reach the summit of this, but as we did, the clouds lifted and we were now hiking in glorious sunshine. We could also see the summit of our first Munro of the day - Cairn Toul.

photo 2 Away from the path, we picked a route towards Garbh Coire Bothy, sometimes on a faint path, other times through deep heather. A reindeer on our way seemed not bothered in the slightest by our presence. Before reaching the bothy, we had a river to cross - and with the snow still melting, it was a tad higher than expected. Paul with his long legs, simply strided over a couple of boulders. The rest of us opted for the safer approach - boots and socks off for a refreshing wade through the burn. Once over, it was lunchtime by the bothy, in glorious sunshine with no midges about - bliss !

photo 1 One of the guys decided this was enough for the day - a sore ankle was developing, so caution was headed. The rest of the group headed uphill, keeping to the right of a waterslide. We were well away from paths, using our senses to pick a fine way up, zig-zagging avoiding the rocks. We reached Lochan Uaine, what a stunning place, and took in the atmosphere. We stumbled upon a ptarmigan family, the parents trying to divert our atention away from the chicks and we duly did. Directly up the northern spur of Cairn Toul, the sun beaming down, we were on the summit, all agreeing what a fabulous route this was.

photo 2 After some photos, it was time to head off, this was a long day and we'd only reached the first Munro. In clear conditions, the route over Sgor an Lochain Uaine and around Garbh Coire is fairly obvious and we made quick progress. A cross of the Wells of Dee, a short haul uphill took us to Braeraich and time for a food-stop and to take in the vast views.

photo 1 Downhill, we crossed some snow (there's not much left and probably gone by the time you read this), passed the plane wreckage and traversed the broad shoulder of the northern shoulder of Sron na Lairige. Some unsual plants caught our eye (well Lynn's and mine anyway) - we couldn't decide what they were - time to get Richard and Duncan on the case. Back into the Lairige Ghru, a gentle hike returned us to the 'Sugar Bowl'.

photo 1 On our second day, Lynn, Paul, Alan and myself were joined by Rosalind. The forecast wasn't great, with heavy rain pulling in from 4pm onwards. We did have the option of extending our original plan by adding in Derry Cairngorm and possibly Beinn Mheadhoin - we all knew this was now unlikely. Still Cairngorm, Ben Macdui and the Fiacaill Ridge - that's going to be a pretty good outing !

photo 2 From the ski-centre car-park, we hiked on a fine path around Coire an Sneachda to the northern spur of Cairn Lochain. The path leading in is misleading, as soon as we began uphill the path more or less disappeared and we made our own way up and around the rocks and boulders. We reached the base of the ridge, then like geckos, scambled along to the base of large rocky prow. A little detour around this and we were back uphill and on the summit. And in mist !

photo 1 For the rest of the day spent on the high group, I more or less had to concentrate on the navigation. We bagged Ben Macdui, hike back and around the top of Coire an t-Sneachda and up Cairngorm, meeting very few people on route. Down 'Windy Ridge' (on of my favourite running descents of Cairngorm) and back to the cars, just before 4pm. Bang on 4pm as I was driving home the rain came on !

A great weekend with really good company. We made some great memories !

More photos are here on Flickr.

We'll be back on the Cairngorm 4000s next year (date to be confirmed), more info here.

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