Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Northern Cairngorms: [Cairngorm (6) and] Beinn Mheadhoin (13)

Walk date: 28/01/06
My Munro #'s: 61

Cairngorm summit:

Beinn Mheadhoin from Cairngorm:

Loch Avon in deep chill mode!

Summit of Beinn Mheadhoin, one of many outcrops!

First fresh Munro since Aonach Eagach! Good but big and EXHAUSTING day out. I knew this would be a challenge given the length of daylight at this time of year so I planned accordingly. My guidebook gave a 6-10 hours for this walk. As I usually am nearer the minimum I gave myself 7 hours to do this even in snow (although with a knowledge that up to 8 was possible). Due to this, I was up at 05:30, with the walk starting just before 09:00 from Aviemore Cairngorm ski centre car park. Took wrong branch out of car park and had to recover by climbing 200m up over a heather-clad slope. Much snow on ground all day long but fortunately no snowfall. Worst weather was on the drive out! From top of slope, route to Cairngorm was fine except that the fenced path to the summit after the cafe was unusable due to solid ice! The descent into Glen Avon via Allt Coire Raibert was challenging due to snow and ice on quite a steep slope. The journey was worth it though when the hidden glen of Glen Avon and its prestine Loch were revealed. The ascent of Beinn Mheadhoin was fine but time pressure meant that it was a push and that the short boulder field was a rather unwelcomed sight! In total cloud and snow, a lack of concentration at one point took me close to an overhang too! Anyway, on top the walking was good, but this hill has many false tops and I was very glad of the GPS simply so I didn't have to spend valuable time making sure I had really made it! Especially as I finally reached the summit past my 'official' half-way point timewise. Due to time, I decided to retrace my steps for the return rather than follow a recommended but unroute route that my guide-book had suggested going around the east side of Loch Avon before heading back to Cairngorm. The climb back to Cairngorm was very exhausting but I had to keep up the pace. I went west of the summit to save some ascent but I've since thought that the summit might have been better than the drifts and ice that I encountered instead. Thankfully I had a quick and easy descent down, getting back to the car at 16:10 with pitch-darkness at 17:00!

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