A weekend in the Cairngorms, how could I resist the offer of a couple of nights at the Cairngorm Mountaineering hut at Braemar? Nestled in at the end of the Linn of Dee valley where it is impossible for the outside world to contact you, surrounded by majestic cairngorm mountains and endless miles of tracks and moors – how could I resist?
The weather wasn’t looking great for me to want to trudge for a long walk in to only find I would have to beat a hasty retreat from a summit – I’ve not walked anywhere around the Southern Cairngorms so the choices were limitless. Conversations with other mountaineers indicated that the southern slopes were favourable as the northern were coated in deep soft powder snow making walking a difficult slog.
So An Socach it was. A bit random, chosen by shutting ones eyes and pointing at the map.
The walk in from Baddoch is a nice pleasant stroll along the riverside on a wide track and at the second river the route heads upwards and is a slow plod towards a plateau, where the snow wasn’t quite consolidated neve but definitely required crampons, particularly as the climb upwards gets steep.
An Socach is a broad long ridge with the summit at the far end covered in rocks making it ankle twisting in crampons and on a windy day it is exposed and scoured of snow. Much like my face felt by the end of the day! Being away from the main summits of the Cairngorms it is also isolated and quiet, and crucially there was only us on the mountain despite it being the weekend. Perfect.