The weather was stunning and unfortunately all my pals had other plans, I have been recovering very slowly from my year of operations, my fitness is very poor but I can walk now very slowly. I decided that as I was on my own I would visit the Cairngorms and the sun was out when i left home. It is only just an hour drive and it was a sparkling day, the Cairngorms were looking magnificent on the drive all the hills stood out this was a great September day.
The car park was busy and I met Mark from Glenmore Lodge looking super fit head for the plateau for some training. The Bristows helicopter was training with the local Cairngorm team, I could hear it near Glenmore Lodge and I was soon was sorted out boots on and just had to decide where to go. The crowds were heading for MacDui via the Lochan West Ridge and there was only a small group heading into Coire An T – Sneachda so I wandered up the familiar path in the sun. It was slightly windy but a lovely day and the hills were looking sparkling . The other group was heading for the Goat Track another way onto the plateau but that was in the shade. On the right in the Coire Fiacaill Buttress area was in the sun and I had not been up that way in the summer for many years, it was an easy choice. I left the path and picked a line amongst the huge boulders and scree, it was magic place to be no one about and enjoying the sun.
This place would soon be a winter wilderness soon apart from the hundreds of climbers who venture here in winter. I was not feeling great and going painstakingly slow but there was no rush it had been a long time since I was last on the hills. I was on my own and could enjoy my own pace and stop and drink it all in. This is a wild playground for the winter climber and I could pick out the classic lines on this cliff. The ptarmigan were about starting their change of colour to white and looking happy in the warm sun.
Many times I had great days in winter with pals getting dragged up these climbs in my early days of climbing there was about 10 routes on this cliff nowadays it is plastered with routes. My first guide only mentioned Fiacaill Couloir, incredible that was in 1973! Changed days.
It is a lovely place to be amongst the big broken cliffs and with the sun made it a friendly place unusually there was no one above me on the main ridge and I had a scramble up to the ridge. There are plenty of loose blocks about and care is needed but you get great views all the way up and still in the sun. I found it hard going though even a short burst of effort was a struggle. I was soon on the main ridge again on my own and on familiar ground taking it easy and enjoying the views. This ridge gives great views of Coire an Lochan and Braeraich and the Feshie hills. The ridge is on clean granite the route is well marked by crampon scratches with great views into the Coire.
The plateau when I reached it was wind free and warm as I made my way to the top there was a disused tent just before the top. It looked like it had been left and was very near the edge it was a strange thing to find on a high summit? What makes someone leave this on a high peak, surely it is easier to take down, maybe they were coming back for it but a stupid thing to do as there were plenty of places to hide it? Should I have taken it down ?Any comments? I left it where it was maybe someone will come back for it. I am sure it will not be there foe long.
I enjoyed my lunch near the top and my plans were now just to go along the tops and head down, it would be a long road to recovery for me. I watched a group on the Classic Rock Climb Savage Slit in Coire in Lochan, they looked so small against the cliff and I met a few other walkers heading home from their walks. It was a lovely September day and despite the tiredness even after such a short walk it was enjoyable.
It was an easy descent down the ridge and again I stopped for a while looking into Lochan the Great Slab awaiting its annual cover of snow. This is a lovely place, it was hot now and I slowly walked back to my car. The drive home was again in the sun and I listened to the rugby on the radio and was soon back and after a shower I had to have 4o winks to recover.
Looking back on my walk I will have to take it easy build up to each walk but at least I managed up onto the plateau saw the wonderful mountains again, enjoying the warmth of the sun and even got a wee scramble in. I will just have to take it easy and enjoy what I have!
It was sad to see the tent left high in a lovely area – or was it left ? How do we teach people especially the young to look after our environment? Look at the mess after festivals in this throwaway society. Lots of questions – Any answers?