Some of my Mountaineering club were are away doing some of the great peaks in the Cairngorms . It’s great to see and I heard they had a great time. These peaks mean so much to me I have had so many classic days here. They climbed the great slabs by a scramble route onto Devils Point good on them. I found them pretty tricky one day when I did that route. What a day they had.
- Cairngorms – The Big Seven. The Cairngorms Cairn Gorm – Ben Macdui – Carn a’Mhaim – The drop into the Lairig Gru is when the mind games start. The Devil’s Point – Cairn Toul – Sgor an Lochain Uaine (The Angel’s Peak) – Braeriach – then the trudge home to the Sugar Bowl. You can do them anyway I prefer completing on Cairngorm.
My memory went back into these great days on these hills many were often climbed in summer and winter. In my early days the Cairngorm 4 was a big day – Brairiach ,Cairntoul, Ben MacDui and Cairngorm was the classic a big day especially in winter. The descent into the Larig gru then the pull up to Ben Mac Dui from the Larig Gru to MacDui can be so hard going. Over the years we would add Devils Point Carn a ‘ Mhain to the Cairngorm 4 it became the Cairngorm 7 the updating of Angel’s Peak as a Munro . One day just after I broke my ankle and had it pinned and plated it would be about 1987 I did this big day with a boot and a trainer as my foot was still giving me problems my ankle would swell during the day. One of the teams wife Myrtle Sefton had wanted to do this day for a long time so Myrtle came with us. Myrtle was a lover of the Cairngorms since she and her family had spent many summers watching birds and camping on the Ben MacDui plateau. Myrtle was only a young lass then yet her knowledge of this area is huge as of the wild life.
When doing these days it was always a good tip for an early start. We were away by 0500 it was raining and the weather was poor. We had some thoughts of aborting on the first summit Braeraich. It was hard going in the gloom. There are usually time for a visit to the two aircraft crashes on this mountain but not today it was navigation and we were on a time scale. Blenheim Z7356 on Braeriach sadly ,killing all the crew and the Oxford HM724 which is near the main path.
The Blenheim crashed nearby but much of the wreckage is in the Corrie and worth a visit when the snow goes. I have written about these crashes in previous blogs. There are many other ways on to these great peaks the way I have done often was by Angels ridge that takes you into the wild corries these are huge and there is often a good snow cover late into the summer. There are some serious winter climbs as well when I was younger you will rarely see anyone else.
The North East ridge is a lovely day out the views to be savoured. On the way in you pass the wild Pools of Dee and the An Garbh Choire and Corrie Bhrochain. If you want a bit of solitude this is the place to be. I often searched here in my Mountain Rescue days and its a wild place and I had some scary helicopter flights here and huge walk outs dragging a stretcher into the Larig Gru.
Yet we went on the cloud was down it rained and we had to navigate all the way to Devils Point. The plateau along from Braeriach can be tricky navigation and care has to be taken. We were all in our own thoughts as we descended to the Corrour bothy from Devils point for a break. We met a few walkers as we had our lunch or early breakfast. They were fairly surprised that we had come across the 3 Munro’s (now 4) with the update of Angels peak to Munro status. that early. We were wet and a bit down I said that Myrtle was our Mum and was pushing us to do a big day. To be honest we did not fancy that walk back down the Larig Gru. so of we went. Those who have been here no how you feel. It was a hard pull up to the beleach to Cairn a Mhain. In the past I have climbed the slabs on to the ridge but not this day. The weather was clearing and drying us out. The summit is a great view point then the trudge back and up to Mac Dui! There was little time to stop time was marching on and Cairngorm was in view. It was the first time for years that I had not stopped at the wee memorial just off the summit( how many miss that?)
The walk back to Cairngorm seemed to go on and on even Myrtle said so her long legs charging across the plateau. It was hard to imagine how hard a day you can have here in winter. The final pull up to Cairngorm so often just a wander hurt us all. Soon we were at the weather station and the summit and then down to the car park saying little but pretty pleased with our day. It was great to do that day with Myrtle and she looked after me over the years as her husband Ray was my team leader and mentor. My ankle was like an elephants foot at the end of the day but I could now go and get my RAF medical to saw I was still medically fit. It took another year to get the plate and pin out and the ankle has been great a bit arthritic but done a few miles.
Hopefully I have left you with a few ideas, please do not just run round these hills savour them, take lots of photos and you will have memories that will last for your life.
Classic Reading : Classic Mountain Scrambles in Scotland – Andrew Dempster
Aircraft wrecks The Walkers Guide
The Cairngorms – SMC Publications.
The Munros – SMC Publication.
Comments as always welcome
“ I remember you putting three of us out on a night time traverse of the big 6. You also wanted an ascent of Savage Slit (I think that was just to put more weight in the sack). We started from Cairngorm and another party went from the other side. We exchanged climbing kit in the larig. Long night🤣” Good training!