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

Drumochter Munros revisited

17 January 2016
A couple of weeks ago we attempted to bag the two Munros east of the Drumochter pass, however weather was just downright awful, so we abandoned. Back to now, we revisited the area - second time lucky ?

Mountain hare We (Martin, Blair, Victoria, Raymond, Johnston and myself) met as planned on a fine Sunday morning at 'layby 87' on the A9 just south of Dalwhinnie. Forecast was good, gentle breeze (picking up later in the day) with 80% chance of clear summits and a summit temperature of -7ºC - ideal ! Gear sorted, we crossed the A9 (the most dangerous part of the day ?) and headed up the track toward the old quarry. Mountain hares bounded around, teasing us as we tried to photo them. We blethered and chatted as we progressed uphill.

On A'Bhuidheanach Bheag At around 750m we entered the mist and from here on, we 'enjoyed' whiteout conditions while we hiked over the day's the high ground. Up to the crest of the plateau, a distinctive fence-post marked the point for us to turn and aim for our first Munro, A'Bhuidheanach Bheag. With deep snow in parts this route really tested my navigation skills - my bearings were perfect, but my distance measurement was short and had to be revised a few times. I tried to give the navigation challenge to others in the group, but no takers ! In single-file, following a Silva compass all the way, we reached the trig point on A'Bhuidheanach Bheag, semi buried in the snow. A high-five, some posing for the camera, then an about-turn.

White out The return was easier - we had some footsteps to follow, ours ! Interestingly, the steps weren't always in a straight line - I must have been constantly checking and correcting my bearings. We reached the fence-post where we previously joined the plateau, meeting a couple of skiers - they were giving up due to the lack of visibility. We planned our route to Carn na Caim and off we went.

Carn na Caim A line of footprints were picked up, but they continually changed direction, so we opted not to follow them, sticking to our compass bearing instead. At last, the obvious line of fence-posts were met and we could relax a bit ! We met a chap kitted out old-skool and then a couple decked out in Paramo just before the point where we left the line of posts. The tiny cairn on Carn na Caim's summit was found, and briefly the mist lifted for a glimpse of the views northwards. Time for some food !

Descending to Drumochter Again, we had the luxury of footprints to follow back. To throw something into the mix, I suggested a more direct route down rather than return to our fence-post - yup, it would be more navigation in white-out, but quicker. Everyone agreed and after just over 1km of retracing our footprints, we left the security of the line of fenceposts and made a beeline down the spur between Coire Uilleim and Coire nan Cisteeachan. As we began our descent, the mist magically cleared, lifting our spirits with it. Some fun was had trying to slide and then bound down the slopes quickly got us back down, and in front of the Paramo couple who'd opted for the 'safe route' of the track.

This was a hard fought summit-bag and we were the only folk today to bag both Munros on this plateau. Well done guys !

More photos are on our Flickr page, and Johnston put some good ones on his Flickr site.

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