Well, there's a day on the hill I'll not forget in a long time. My first visit to Garbh Choire Mhor and I had to pick the day of terrible weather!
Thanks, again, go to coaster, who was my companion on this trip. His enthusiasm for snow-patches makes me feel less of an anorak than I gave myself credit for.
The day started well at Auchlean in Glen Feshie, where we decided that we would leave from. The weather was overcast but fair, and we were optimistic we wouldn't see much rain. Indeed, for a while the optimism was well founded. The path was excellent and the cloud was lifting. In an hour-and-a-quarter we were past 3000ft and heading for the shoulder of Carn Mor Ban at NN892 968. After that, instead of sticking to the path (and take a slightly longer route), we decided to strike across the lunar landscape which sits above Coire Odhar at the head of Glen Einich and head straight for Carn na Criche on Braeriach.
So far, so good. Got to around 3400ft and into the mist. Managed to pick our way (thanks to Garmin GPS) to the edge of Garbh Choire Mor and tried to peak over into it. Nothing visible! Hardly surprising: the mist was thick and the wind was blowing steadily at around 25-30mph. Couple this with an air temperature on the plateau of 5.6 celcius and it made for very unpleasant walking.
A search for an easy descent into GCM was on. Initially we walked towards Sgor an Lochain Uaine, but doubled back after 10-minutes when we realised we were going nowhere, fast. There was nothing else for it but to go round past the Wells of Dee and descend into Garbh Choire Dhaidh and round to GCM.
All the while whilst skirting round the edge towards our drop-in point I was peering optimistically into the abyss(!), hoping to see a gently sloping descent, wishing to cut-out the long and arduous walk round. coaster's vertigo is even worse than mine
, so there was little chance of us taking any direct route.
We eventually descended into the corrie and made for GCM. The boulder fields made the progress very slow, but we eventually got to our destination and were rewarded with 4-patches of snow.
So, here's the nitty-gritty:
1) Sphinx - 12m long x 22m wide x 4.5m deep.
2) Pinnacles - 20m long x 41m wide x 3m deep.
3) (Not sure of the name, possibly Michaelmas Fayre?: sits south of Sphinx) - 7m long x 10m wide x 2m deep
4) (Not sure of name: sits north of Pinnacles) - 6m long x 1m wide x 1m deep. Not much life left in this one, I fancy.
Not many photographs today I'm afraid (camera was soaked): [www.flickr.com
Sphinx and Pinnacles were absolutely rock-hard. Temperature at the patches was around 7 celcius with heavy rain. I'm surprised these patches didn't show many signs of melting. Possibly the recent cold weather has consolidated them.
As it stands, three of the four have a very decent prospect of survival if a cold snap were to appear in October and give a good covering.
After we did the business and had some lunch it was time to get back. Luckily, I persuaded coaster to scramble up a grassy slope in GCM and onto the summit plateau. Once there we got lost a couple of times, but made it down from the hill in time to see the sun come out.
Still, was a nice run home.
Thanks again to coaster for coming along. Not a place to go on your own in foul weather.