/ Lairig Ghru

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Castleman - on 13 Feb 2013
Planning a walk in the next couple of weeks from Blair Atholl to Aviemore, including the Lairig Ghru. Not intending on taking in summits, just doing it as a walk, staying at relevant bothies en route.

Has anyone been out there recently and can comment on what the conditions are like? Any other tips/info?

Kevin Woods - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Castleman: Hey. I was up Braemar/Lochnagar-way last weekend. Lots of snow above about 4-500m. Thin in places and banked out elsewhere. There's a big fresh dump today. But hard to tell with these things apart from the obvious snowy-and-cold.
Castleman - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Kevin Woods:

Cheers, useful to know. Trying to decide whether it is likely to be axe/crampons, snow shoes, neither or bring all of them, use none of them kind of conditions. Looks like a warm(er) spell early next week.
Ron Walker - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Castleman:

At the present moment snow shoes and a shovel would be extremely useful and it will be extremely time consuming and arduous however with a bit of a freeze thaw you could find crampons and an axe useful too. You may not be taking in any summits but pass itself is higher than most English mountains and frequently catches the unwary out even in the summer!
Slugain Howff - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Castleman:

Was out on Saturday's search in the Etchachan area and skis or snowshoes were the order of the day. There has been more snow since then too.

Will be an arduous plod without one or the other.

S
drmarten on 13 Feb 2013
The Chalamain Gap can be a bit of a bugger in unconsolidated snow. It sounds like a good walk you have in mind - I'd not plan anywhere near like summer distance as you may be a great deal slower. Have a good one.
Mark Bull - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to drmarten:

> The Chalamain Gap can be a bit of a bugger in unconsolidated snow.

In such conditions it is worth avoiding it on the NW (Creag a' Chalamain) side, which only requires an extra 20 or 30m of ascent.

richard marshall - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Castleman: As the M/O for the Tarf hotel (bothy)and having walked many times from Blair Atholl up the Tilt and beyond through the Lairig via Corrour (bothy)I would advise taking the full gambit of Winter gear including a tent/ bivi gear.

As other have said in the current conditions this is an arduous undertaking over rough ground under snow.

Have fun
paul-1970 - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Castleman:
I've done this trek, but in May a few years ago. It was clear underfoot, but it still snowed on a couple of days. One of the best week's walks I've ever taken, and through wonderful scenery.

Unless you make wide deviations from Glen Tilt and then the walk over past Bynack Lodge (ruin) to Glen Dee and the Lairig Ghru, the only bothy you'll encounter will be Corrour. Therefore you'll have to carry a tent as well. You could walk from the Falls of tarf to The Tarf bothy, or even approach this bothy from Blair Atholl, but this is a more arduous walk than the trek up Glen Tilt - especially so with a heavy pack at the beginning of the walk. And the walk up Glen Tilt is definitely NOT to be missed.

This is a fantastic route and one of the best long distance walks in the Highlands, but I'd strongly recommend waiting a couple of months until April, May or June. This will be a very arduous journey through the 'average' snowdrifts of February or March, and definitely not to be under-estimated. You're in extremely remote country too, so bailing out (down the Feshie or over to Linn of Dee) would be a trek in itself.

Good luck and have a great trip.
Withnail - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Castleman:

The walk up glen tilt is stunning-as is the lhairig ghru itself.

I think I remember some pretty major river crossings in summer near the end of glen tilt. It was quite a few years back but cant remember if there was another way round without taking a massive detour. Its possible we didnt take the easiest route though.

I think one river crossing might be pretty shady in winter, unless its frozen of course...

hope that helps

Jon
florence58 - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Castleman: Try not to fall in the river. No radio reception at Corrour bothy, so make sure you have all the weather forecasts you need :).
Ron Walker - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Withnail:
> (In reply to Castleman)

> I think one river crossing might be pretty shady in winter, unless its frozen of course...

There's normally huge snow drifts and snowbridges in the Winter and Spring which can make great snow shelters if you under estimate the weather, time and effort and get caught out.
We use the area for winter survival training and digging emergency snowshelters with an ice axe will have saved a good few winter walkers life's over the years!

Simon Caldwell - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Withnail:
> I think I remember some pretty major river crossings in summer near the end of glen tilt

When we stayed at the Tarf Hotel (May 2011) the river rose overnight and reached as far as the door. We were trapped in the hut for about 6 hours until it fell slightly, even then we had to walk lover a mile up stream to find a safe crossing point.
Withnail - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:

> There's normally huge snow drifts and snowbridges in the Winter and Spring which can make great snow shelters if you under estimate the weather, time and effort and get caught out.
> We use the area for winter survival training and digging emergency snowshelters with an ice axe will have saved a good few winter walkers life's over the years!

Ah right o. My info on summer river crossings probably isnt that relevant then (just walk over the drifts?)-guess I just thought if there was a thaw the rivers might be high.

Sounds like an awesome place for winter survival training! Always amazes me seeing the stone shelters over on Ben Macdui. I understand the commandos get dumped there for mountain training often in horrendous weather for point to point nav with standard army kit.

Jon



IainRUK - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:
> (In reply to Withnail)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> There's normally huge snow drifts and snowbridges in the Winter and Spring which can make great snow shelters if you under estimate the weather, time and effort and get caught out.
> We use the area for winter survival training and digging emergency snowshelters with an ice axe will have saved a good few winter walkers life's over the years!

I ran through it recently, start of Jan, and the snow bridges were the most dangerous bit.. it was very warm and they were collapsing, some huge crevasses forming..

I had descended a gully of ben Macdui, I was trying to run the 4000ers, and was falling through the snow into the river channel below when I was getting down.. pretty horrid ended up descending the chossy ground to the side..


nickyrannoch on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Mark Bull:
> (In reply to drmarten)
>
> [...]
>
> In such conditions it is worth avoiding it on the NW (Creag a' Chalamain) side, which only requires an extra 20 or 30m of ascent.

But if your going to Aviemore you could avoid Chalamain altogether and just head straight down to Rothiemurchus.
drmarten on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to nickyrannoch:
Spot on, you don't need to walk through the Gap, I was transferring my own recollections of the Lairig Ghru as I had went in/out from nearer the ski centre. After going in via the Gap I retraced my steps on the NW as Mark suggested.
almost sane - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Castleman:
Stating the obvious: the weather can change.
In two weeks time all the snow could be gone, barring a few snowbanks. The rivers could be in spate from meltw*ter, and the ground boggier than a soggy sponge. Nightmare.
Or you could find the whole route covered in firm snow giving swift progress. Pure dead bonny.
Or there could be lots of fresh snow, making any progress hard work even with snow shoes or skis.

The wind could whip ice shards into your face, or could gently push yhou along.
You may get sunburned, or even snow blind if you don't have sunglasses / goggles.

All points made above are sensible. It is a Big and Remote walk.
You could start with one set of weather conditions, and suddenly find yourself in an unexpected blizzard / thaw / gale / rain storm / unrelenting sunshine.

BUT it is time spent in the wild. Enjoy it!
altirando - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Castleman: Made me reminded of the time I took a bike across at the tender age of eighteen, but in June. Still some small snow patches on top. I was moaned at by a fully booted walker for wearing cycle shoes. I think I would treat the crossing with a little more respect nowadays! But the bike was very useful on the approach tracks.
Castleman - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Castleman:

Thanks all, great advice.

Anyone know of a way of hiring snowshoes from Pitlochry/Blair Atholl and then returning them to Aviemore?!

ads.ukclimbing.com
Jiffy - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Castleman:

Believe it or not, I had been planning to do Aviemore to Blair Atholl in the next couple of weeks but I decided against it as the stretch between Corrour and Tarf is just too long and too uncertain for me. All it needs is a warm front, snow melt and you're faced with this:
http://www.vimeo.com/25470851

Instead, I've decided on a circular route starting at Glenmore. It gives me more flexibilty. I can take in tops or stick to low routes depending on the weather.

I've got cross country skis, snowshoes, crampons and ice axe. I won't be taking the skis as I don't really have any experience, confidence or skill in skiing off piste. The ice axe and crampons are definates. I'll make my mind up on taking the snow shoes and snow shovel (I might dig a snow cave one day) just before I leave based on weather forecasts and packweight. I've got 20kgs of coal buried in the Lairig Ghru in preparation for this trip so the snow shovel will be handy for that too. :-)
JLS on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Jiffy:

>"I've got 20kgs of coal buried in the Lairig Ghru"

You sound confident you are going to find it again.
Roberttaylor - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Jiffy: Was it in a bag by any chance?
Jim C - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Castleman:
> Planning a walk in the next couple of weeks from Blair Atholl to Aviemore, including the Lairig Ghru. Not intending on taking in summits, just doing it as a walk, staying at relevant bothies en route.
>
> Has anyone been out there recently and can comment on what the conditions are like? Any other tips/info?

Be careful.
http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2013/02/14/cairngorms-rescue-operation-underway-after-avalanche-in-...
Simon Caldwell - on 14 Feb 2013
Jiffy - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to JLS:

Aye, GPS can get me to the right pair of boulders and I know the exact distance between them where the coal is.
OMR - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to Jiffy: Ah. Those two boulders. Ach well. the coal wasn't very good anyway... ;)
mark turnbull - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to Jiffy:
Aye so that was your coal
Castleman - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Castleman:

Well for anyone interested, we had a cracking time but did the walk in reverse. A day of skiing followed by Ryvoan - Corrour - Tarf - Atholl Arms.

Conditions were excellent for nipping up Devils point and the weather was sensational.


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