Date: 26th May 2005
Distance: 3.9 miles
Ascent: 1972 feet
Time: 2 hours 40 mins
With: Lisa, Val and Dave
Start Grid Ref: NH989061
A short walk up to the summit of Cairn Gorm on a very windy day with a visit to Ptarmigan Station on the way down.
Route Summary: Cairngorm Ski Centre Car Park - Sron an Aonaich - Marquis' Well - Cairn Gorm - Ptarmigan Station - Coire Cas - Cairngorm Ski Centre Car Park
1. Loch Morlich and Meall a'Bhuacaille
2. Lisa, Val and Dave on the path up Sron an Aonaich
3. Looking across the summit plateau towards Ben Macdui
4. The summit cairn on Cairn Gorm
5. Leaning into the wind on the summit
6. Lisa sheltered behind the summit cairn with Ben Macdui in the distance
7. Val and Dave approaching the summit
8. Loch Etchachan
9. Cairn Lochan
10. Loch Morlich
11. Looking over Airgiod-meall to Aviemore
Walk Detail: Our initial plan was to start from the Ski Centre car park, climb Cairn Gorm and then walk along the ridge to Cairn Lochan and return to the car park via the path Dave and I had followed back from Ben Macdui a few days before.
Unfortunately the weather once again frustrated our plans but this time it was very strong wind rather than snow and poor visibility that was to blame. If it had not been a windy day it would have been an enjoyably straightforward 600m ascent to the top. Despite feeling absolutely exhausted in the immediate aftermath of Ben Macdui I felt extremely fit on this walk.
I'll admit that for once I actually felt a bit impatient waiting for the others especially as the wind was so strong it was physically difficult to actually stand still and wait; furthermore I was afraid that poor weather would blow over and thus spoil the summit view as it had when we climbed Ben Macdui.
The first part of the ascent was, despite its steepness quite easy, harder though was the lesser graded though rockier path from the restaurant to the summit. Lisa and I got up there long before Val and Dave and so for a while we huddled in the shelter of the large summit cairn which we had to ourselves.
After a while I braved a visit to the weather station and caught a glimpse of Loch Etchachan but it was so unremittingly windy that I daren’t venture further from shelter to try and get a view of Loch A’an. There were great views to be had but it was a shame the wind spoilt it.
When Val and Dave finally made it to the top we decided to head back down rather than attempt to walk into the wind as far as Cairn Lochan. Therefore I was frustrated twice in a week to reach the latter spot. After a quick visit to the Ptarmigan (surreal to find such a place on a mountain) we followed a track back to the ski centre that in season would actually have been one of the ski runs.
It was hardly the prettiest of descents but it did keep us out of the wind. The walk had been shortened so much that we still hadn’t eaten our lunch so after we got back to the car we drove down to Loch Morlich and found a suitable place for a picnic and enjoy the views back to Cairn Gorm in a much less exposed environment.