Stage 1 Completed!!!

Well, that’s Stage 1out of the way, probably the hardest of the 3.  Four of us headed up Cairn Gorm on Friday, myself, John, Rory and David. All of us met through the www.walkhighlands.co.uk website and what a wealth of experience the guys offered.

We left the Ski Centre at 1330 hours having left Rory’s camperat the Sugar Bowl car park (good decision!!) and headed up Cairn Gorm. Not the most scenic of mountains,what with the chair lifts and the Ptarmigan restaurant halfway up?? The weather conditions were favourable, a bit breezy but with good visibility. All that changed in a moment!! We had not long passed the restaurant when a horizontal hailstorm hit us and we were engulfed in poor visibilty and very poor conditions. Waterproofs and raincovers were on very quickly and we trudged up to the summit, passing disgruntled folk who had called it a day. Sheltering behind the weather station on the summit, we got ourselves together then headed off, skirting the edges of the Northern Corries. Not that we could see anything!!!

Even though the hood of my Rab Momentum was up and secured, the hailstones were still stinging my ears, we reckoned the gusts were hitting 40mph and the windchill was hitting minus 8. Heading over the plateau towards Ben MacDui, the weather cleared and the views to the west of the Lairig Ghru opened up. After reaching the summit, we descended into the Lairig Ghru via the Tailor’s Burn. A bit tricky especially as it had started raining and the wind had picked up.

Start of a scary descent from Ben MacDui

Once in the Ghru, we headed to Corrour Bothy and found a welcome bonus….there were only 2 people inside!! So we had a warm comfortable night.

The next morning, the weather was clearing and we were in for an excellent day.

Me and John with Ben MacDui behind us

We polished off the Devil’s Point, Cairn Toul and the Angels Peak fairly sharpish, but the long plateau of Braeriach lay in wait!!

On the summit of ANgel's Peak and the plateau behind us

On the summit of Angel's Peak and the plateau behind us

Next up…..the summit of Braeriach and the last of the 4,000 feet peaks of the Cairngorms!! Only the 4 on Stage 3 left!!

The views from the summit were incredible. It’s the first time I’ve been here and had clear skies.

Lairig Ghru form Braeriach

Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine2

There was still a good 3 hours ahead until we reached the end of Stage 1. The delights of the Chalamain Gap still to come. Rory mentioned ‘leg-breaker’ which was a bit disconcerting!  I’ve always tried to avoid it, but not today.

Oh no I'm next!!

Oh no I'm next!!

Emerging from the Chalamain Gap2

Because my right arm doesn’y fully straighten, this was tricky and I wouldn’t fancy it in the wet. Still, made it!!

So, the end of Stage 1 and three good friends made. The hip stood up very well, no tweaks and looking forward to Stage 2 on the 30th!!

More photos and reports on http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1230

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