Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Cairn Gorm - 13-10-2010

During a week on constant inversions I decided to go chasing one midweek to the East as my Sunday hunt was unsuccessfull in Crianlarich (the inversion was about 200m higher than the summit still). We left very early and headed off up to Aviemore to Cairngorm mountain stopping in Pitlochry for rolls and sausage and some strong coffeee.

We arrived at the mountain with a plan to climb Pygmy ridge in Coire an t-Sneachda and popped in to the office of the rangers to have a chat about the conditions on the mountain. The inversion was forcasted to be about 900m so we hoped we would be able to climb the ridge and break out of the inversion before the top of Stob Coire an t-Sneachda which would have been brilliant. The ranger told us that the summit of Cairngorm itself was under cloud which was disappointing. But we had came up so we plodded off up to the Coire floor.

There is a clearly defined path most of the way up the coire which is easy to follow in bad visibility however once the boulder field is reached the path becomes very indistinct and the way ahead completely vanishes. We followed what we thought was the right path but we were gaining height which indicated we were heading up towards the west side of the coire and the fiacaill ridge. We were lost now so we headed on a rough bearing that would hit us back onto the distinct part of the path again. Once we made the track we headed back up to the point where it became indistinct and followed a bearing this time which took us to the lochans and the mountain rescue box. The clag was well and truly all arround us and very drizzly.

We waited arround for a while trying to figure out how to get to Pygmy ridge which would involve scrambling about over wet slabs and choosy rock and turf. After a while we gave up as it the weather was pretty miserable so we headed up the Goat track to the top of the coire.

When we got to the top of the coire cloud was all about so our hopes of a 900m inversion was well and truly rained upon (literally and methaphorically). We followed the coire rim and headed towards the bealach which would direct us up to the top of Cairn Gorm.

We found the top of Finger's Ridge - another climb we hope to do.

And then the top of Pygmy ridge. We could have abseiled off down the gully at the side, however everything was drizzly and claggy and we could not be bothered any more.

As we headed up to Cairn Gorm's summit we were suprised as things started to brighten up.

Blue Sky!!!

The Inversion is here! Higher than forcasted but it looks like the winds across the hills are locally raising the inversion. We spent a long while just basking in the sunshine at the weather station enjoying the views across the clouds.

Angel's Peak poking out the clouds. Only the 4000ers are visible out the inversion.

Cairn Toul and Angel's Peak. Distant Crianlarich hills not visible through the bealach.

Ben Macdui is still covered in cloud as the winds are blowing the inversion up and over it, but Braeriach is starting to clear up.

We headed back down to the Cafe hoping for a snack but it had closed. We hung about for a while and decided we would wait and go back up to the summit to catch the sunset over the inversion. Upon getting back up again we were disappointed to find the summit shrouded on the edge of the inversion again. We waited for an hour on the hope of it clearing for us, but with worse weather forcasted from the evening we knew it was not going to happen so we headed back down through the scarring of the ski resort and back at the car for dark.