Another early start, another deteriorating weather forecast, but enough of a weather window to climb a Munro and get most of the way down before the bad weather arrived. That was the plan anyway.
We started from Glen Feshie, about 3km south of Feshie Bridge and were walking by 8am. Surprisingly enough someone had beaten us to it and a couple were just starting to walk as we arrived. Maybe it wasn’t that surprising given the weather forecast. The plan was to ascend Sgor Gaoith via a less frequented route over Geal Charn and Meall Bhuidhe and then return down the main path from the summit.
The first mile or so was on a good forest path alongside Allt Ruadh through beautiful pine forests, then we turned north onto a narrower path and headed for the obvious col between Craig Mhigeachaidh and Geal Charn. The pine trees thinned out and disappeared altogether as we approached the tree line at about 600m and then the walking was over boggy tussocky grass. The weather started off reasonably bright and we had good views west over Inshriach Forest and Insh Marshes to the Monadhliath hills.
There was no path from the col to the summit of Geal Charn, or at least if there was we didn’t see it, so we ascended over heather and boulders against a strengthening cold wind. I could see poor weather approaching from the west over Ben Alder and the Monadhliadh. We didn’t stop on the summit of Geal Charn but continued along the broad ridge, picking up a narrow path that traversed the north east side of Meall Bhuidhe before disappearing again.
The rain started a few hours earlier than forecast just as we were climbing the final grassy slopes of Sgor Gaoith. I gave Hannah the option of missing out the summit and descending straight down the grassy slopes alongside the Allt a’Chrom-alltain, but she chose to continue. By the time we reached the summit the rain was lashing down, the wind had picked up and we had disappeared into thick mist, so missed out on the spectacular view over Loch Eanaich.
I’d climbed Sgor Gaoith before, in May 2004 with Roland. It had been a beautiful spring day with blue sky and lots of snow still on the ground. I think we had approached it from further south over Carn Ban Mor as I remembered the ascent path being more of a track and going much higher than the path we descended on today. I remember the view from the summit of Sgor Gaoith but don’t appear to have taken any photos, or if I did I don’t still have them.
Today we descended slightly from the summit then took refuge in the group shelter and had some lunch and hot chocolate. I never used to be a fan of group shelters preferring to travel fast and light, but I am a complete convert since walking with children and can see how they could be a complete lifesaver in bad weather. Today it allowed us to escape from the worst of the weather and keep surprisingly warm while having a rest and getting some much needed food and hot liquid inside us. This made a big difference to Hannah and she descended quite happily through the bad weather, chattering about what she wanted for Christmas and what she was building in Minecraft.
We descended westwards from the summit of Sgor Gaoith and soon picked up the main path that led through bogs and over streams back to the car. We were very wet but had stayed warm and cheerful so the rain didn’t really matter in the end. I was really proud of Hannah for climbing her third Munro so cheerfully despite the weather. Hannah’s verdict was that she hadn’t minded the weather but the Cairngorm walk had been less boring. Nothing beats the honesty of a 9 year old 😀.