If today I had intended to go for A’Chailleach it was a non starter, as I could not seem to get a team together. I ended up, a little reluctantly, agreeing with Andy and Jan to go to climb the Corbett of Meall a’ Bhuachaille, which is due North of Cairn Gorm. It was the cause of some excitement the next morning when Andy and Jan informed me that they were going to climb Cairn Gorm.
We set off as early as we could after breakfast to ensure we could get in to the top car park at the ski centre. We intended to leave at 08:30, but it was about 08:50 by the time we were able to leave. Myself, Andy, Jan and Sarah took off intending to walk up Cairn Gorm along Facaill a Choire Chais, and proceeding West over 1176m Stob Coire an t-Sneachda and 1215m Cairn Lochan before descending in a circuit back to the ski centre.
The route worked out pretty sweet, and apart from momentary glances at the GPS to find our way down from Cairn Lochan we were fine.
Setting off from the car park Jan and I in our rigid boots found straight away that we needed crampons to get up the snow on the heavily compacted paths, whilst Andy and Sarah were flying up in their more flexible boots. We struggled on for some time before eventually giving up the game and putting the crampons on. We knew that when we got to the ridge we would have to take them off again, which we did. The advice from those who had climbed Cairn Gorm the previous day was that crampons would not be necessary, and that the snow was very soft.
As soon as we began to ascend the ridge it became apparent that the surface was frozen, and we were slipping around considerably, I know of several people who had to turn here because they had not taken crampons. The crampons went straight back on, and were on until we dropped on to soft ground again in the evening.
We stopped at the cairn at the top of the Facaill were a couple of birds flew in to us. We were in the cloud by now, but it was quite a nice place to rest before finishing off the route. Pushing on up the ridge it took little time or effort before we arrived at the 1244m top, in fact this walk was probably the easiest of the week. Myself and Andy debated whether to attain the Munro one must ascend the radio mast, but quickly discarded the idea. I was delighted to have taken my first 4000er.
The only moment of concern was when Facaill Coire an t-Sneachda emerged from the clouds, which we initially thought was our descent route. Crib Goch looks a bimble in the park compared to that. We wandered past the climbers topping out of the Coire looking for friends, but finding none, and wandering back down towards the ski centre skirting the cliffs of Coire an Lochain.
I think it is quite easy to guess what I was going for on the Friday, alone or not. Had I not summited A’ Chailleach on Friday, I would not have come home on Saturday!