Arriving at Cairngorm Lodge youth hostel via the road from Aviemore for the May Day Bank holiday, 27 members of Clitheroe Mountaineering Club were astounded by the vista of snow-covered peaks above the shimmering waters of Loch Morlich.
The surprises continued as one group headed up to the car park in Coire Cas, the starting point of the Cairn Gorm mountain railway, at 8-30 on Saturday morning to find attendants guiding car loads of skiers and snowboarders into available spaces.
Leaving the crowds behind, the party headed upwards to the start of the Fiacaill Ridge on Cairn Lochan, a narrow rock arête whose ascent involves easy scrambling in summer, but can be more difficult in wintry conditions.
After equipping themselves with crampons and ice-axes, members climbed large boulders and steep, snow-filled ramps to the summit cairn of Cairn Lochan. A long, undulating walk over crisp, deep snow brought them to the summit of Ben Macdui, Scotland’s second highest mountain, and the return to Coire Cas via Lurcher’s Gully.
On Sunday an ambitious plan was hatched to climb one of the Cairngorm gems, the northeast ridge of Angel’s Peak. Some cunning route-finding was called for and crampons and ice axes were needed again, but hard climbing was rewarded with stunning views of the adjoining peaks Cairn Toul and Braeriach.
The route took members over the summits of Carn na Criche and Braeriach, where a long descent led back into the Lairig Ghru for a punishing climb back to the Chalamain Gap and home after eleven-and-a-half hours of strenuous activity.
During the extended weekend members enjoyed other notable ascents including the Munros Bynack Mor and Beinn Mheadhoin via the Ryvoan Pass, the round of Meall a’Bhuachaille, Creagan Gorm and Craiggowrie from the Ryvoan Bothy, Braeriach via Gleann Einich, the Munros of Glen Feshie, Cairn Gorm and Cairn Toul. A large party exploring Upper Glen Feshie had to practise impromptu river crossing due to a bridge on the map having been swept away.
Club chairman, Ian Grace, was warmly thanked for organising such a successful event, and Gail Roe for providing a delicious array of curries for Saturday evening’s dinner, together with a long list of members who provided mouth-watering desserts.
The club’s future events include a mid-week walk in the Arnside area on Thursday June 7th; a weekend at the Chamois mountaineering centre between Beddgelert and Llanberis from June 15th to 17th; a pub walk and get-together at Downham on Thursday June 21st; a day meet in Borrowdale for fell walking and rock climbing on Sunday June 24th; and weekly evening rock climbing sessions throughout the summer, weather permitting. Further details of all these can be obtained from Nick Millward on 01200 441346.