Looking back down Crystal Ridge and over to Derry Cairngorm
Name that plant...
Team at the top
After my day's work at Glenmore Lodge the next morning I headed from the Cairngorm car park in to Coire an t Sneachda and up the Goat Track. After the warm spell it was a shock to see the fresh snow on the tops and even more to be snowed on... in June...! I saw several ptarmigan, still partially in their winter garb and 3 dotterel who sat still as I passed nearby.
I was heading over to meet a party from The Ice Factor. One of the leaders of the group is a trainee instructor there and as part of my role as Technical Advisor I was to observe him at work to help with his development.
I dropped down into the Loch Avon basin in cold weather passing a pair of slightly forlorn climbers staring up at a very wet Hells Lum (never the fastest drying card and positively dripping today). Then it was on and up to Loch Etchachan to catch up with the group.
After walking in as a large team the day before over Ben Macdhui the 2 teams I was meeting had each done 1 of Beinn Mheadhoin or Derry Cairngorm from their camp that morning. No they were swapping over and not wanting to crown Andy I listened to him briefing the team and after following them to the lip of Coire Sputan Dearg I dropped into the Coire to solo Crystal Ridge as they submitted the peak.
Crystal Ridge is a grand wee Diff I last climbed on a damp day about 15 years ago. Today it was cold but fairly dry and pleasant up until the last pitch which is loose and requires care. Historically the route was one of the first times early Cairngorm climbers abandoned gully and chimney lines and took to the more exposed buttresses as they realised there was good rock climbing to be had.
We linked up again and the group struck camp and we made our way down to the head of Loch Avon via the Shelter Stone. Then it was along the north side of the Loch, below the Saddle, to the Fords of Avon. The refuge there is in great condition after its rebuild last year. The last mile of the path is boggy and unpleasant but the shores of Loch avon were a riot of colour with trailing azalea, wild strawberries and butterwort all in flower.
After a comfortable camp one part of the team headed over Bynack Mor whilst Andy's group headed for the saddle before following the path from there up onto the flanks of Cairngorm and then to the summit. More fresh snow on the tops and showers this morning. A good job from Andy, he helped the group lead themselves down off the hill and we caught a bus to meet the others in the sun at the excellent cafe Mor@Glenmore. Well done to him on a good job and the scouts we were out with for a good trip taking in a number of the Cairngorms' finest peaks.