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Glas Maol's Family of 10

Glas Maol's Family of 10

Postby The English Alpinist » Thu Sep 22, 2022 4:32 pm

Route description: Glas Maol Munros circuit, Cairnwell Pass

Munros included on this walk: Cairn of Claise, Càrn an Tuirc, Creag Leacach, Glas Maol, Tolmount, Tom Buidhe

Date walked: 17/09/2022

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 38 km

Ascent: 1886m

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0 wanderer.JPG
I was quite the wanderer today. Glas Maol summit, 3,502 feet.

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How often will I string together 6 Munros + 5 Munro tops in one walk? Maybe never again. This route presented just such opportunity, but does feel like a bit of a cheat as it starts from about half the height at the so-called Devil's Elbow on the A93 to Braemar. However, at this early stage of my Munro career with probably over a decade of endeavour stretching ahead and endless landscapes in my mind's eye, I felt I needed this numerical boost. Anyway, I reckoned the day would be far from 'easy', cheat or not, and thus it was. My decision to include the tops has a lot to answer for in this. I feel I want to accomplish all these too, and missing any of them out on this venture would necessitate using up another long journey from England to do them, so I locked my jaw and turned this long walk into very long. I won't describe this one in too much detail, because I used up my energy doing it.

1 ascent.JPG
Up Meall Gorm to start, looking across to The Cairnwell side.

2 Munro one.JPG
Munro #1 Creag Leacach, 3,238 feet (its south top was done on the way).

3 onward to Maol.JPG
Onward to Glas Maol, swathed in cloud.

4 back to Creag Leacach.JPG
The view back to Leacach and its south top clears.

7 Maol three.JPG
Glas Moal (this was already the third time I visited it, having sought out its NW top and ventured and returned from its SE top).

5 across to Claise top.JPG
View across to Claise's top from Glas Maol's SE top.

6 claise top again.JPG
View across to Claise's top on way back from Glas Maol's SE top.

8 onward to Claise.JPG
Onward to Carn of Claise from Glas Maol. That's Munro #6, Carn an Tuirc at the back.

9 Claise.JPG
Carn of Claise, Munro #3 is reached. Next up, its top, yet another top.

The day was very overcast with a wind chill of -7 degrees, but it didn't rain at all, and I had visibility from all the tops apart from Glas Maol the first time of asking; on the fourth time of visiting it - yes, four, on account of tagging on those tops - I enjoyed it in glorious clarity, but enjoyed it mostly because it meant I was finally on the way back. Earlier, I had said 'to hell with you' to Meall Odhar, its north-west top, on account of the ridiculous drop and re-ascent it would entail, but later on I got the brainwave that I could recalibrate my route to come back over Maol itself and descend via Odhar; in this way the five tops were accomplished but they'd left me with the feeling I would ditch their cause and aim to become 'merely' a Munroist - easy! I do have to say the south-east top of Maol, and the south top of Cairn of Claise provided fantastic perspectives across the Glen towards each other.

10 claise sth top.JPG
Carn of Claise's south top , Glas Maol now emerging from its mist.

11 across to Maol top.JPG
View across to Glas Maol's SE top from Carn of Claise's top.

12 striking out east.JPG
Into the further I go, cutting across rough stuff to Tom Buidhe.

13 Tom Buidhe.JPG
Tom Buidhe, 3,140 feet, Munro #4.

14 Tolmount top.JPG
Tolmount's top (I've already visited Tolmount, and will have to go back in order ever to get home).

15 Tolmount summit.JPG
Tolmount, 3,143 feet, Munro #5 (her husband kindly took photo).

16 across to Tuirc.JPG
The ttek across to Carn an Tuirc, my final (not counting revisits) Munro.

17 Carn an Tuirc.JPG
Carn an Tuirc, 3,340 feet, Munro #6. Glas Maol now sits in glory, and I'm going to go back over it.

I found the east top of Tolmount to be the most onerous little appendix, but this was probably because I was at my greatest distance 'out there' at that point, and faced with respooling and a long boggy trek across to Carn an Tuirc. None of the gradients around there were unduly harsh, though, and I found that regular intakes of food and water were key to keeping despair or unconsciousness at bay. By the time I had made my fourth and last acquaintance with Glas Maol - plus two Carn of Caises and two Tolmounts (does this mean I can call my Munro tally 38 instead of 33 now?) - I had that unique satisfaction of having taken a complete 'bite' out of things; the perfect mission. There was even a neat little epilogue, whereby I descended via the south ridge of Meall Odhar instead of to the ski centre and completely unexpectedly had a cosy sit-down inside a bothy whose name I have failed to discover, and signed a water-damaged visitor's book. Somewhat emotionally, I dedicated my venture to my disabled son, David, whose accomplishments are greater than mine no matter how many Munros I achieve.

18 Carn of Claise again.JPG
Carn of Claise (3,484 feet), for the second time.

18 Glas Maol final.JPG
Well, here we are again; Glas Maol for the fourth and last time.

19 Meall Odhar.JPG
I descend via Meall Odhar, which is Glas Maol's NW top - that's 5 tops and their 6 Munros done.

20 return.JPG
Nice little ridge walk south to Devil's Elbow to finish.

21 Bothy.JPG
Unnamed bothy/hut whatever. I went in.

22 visitors book.JPG
I woz there (but I did not write the 'Taz').

Thus was accomplished a 24 mile walk taking 12 hours no less, and yes I'm quite proud of myself, but it is very doable. You're of course starting from a high-level road, access is easy, and the paths for the most part are good and there are no terrifying gradients (the NW top of Glas Maol being a steep drag, though, hence my tagging it on as a descent route at the end). This effort raised my Munro count from 24 to 30, which is a good feeling, and if i hit 50 over the next 12 months (seems reasonable) the dream of compleation has a look of distant feasibility to it. As for the tops, well, maybe - but right now my feeling is forget them. The bagging mentality is bad enough without them, and the grand views and bracing exposure to the elements reminded me what it's really all about. Tomorrow will be an easier day!

This walk is followed by 'Carn Bhinnein outstandingly redeems the cause of top bagging'

23 Maol again.JPG
One last pic of Glas Maol - why not?
Last edited by The English Alpinist on Fri Sep 23, 2022 2:59 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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The English Alpinist
Mountain Walker
Posts: 288
Munros:50   Corbetts:11
Fionas:21   Donalds:18+10
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:136
Joined: Oct 27, 2015
Location: Lancashire England.

Re: Glas Maol's Family of 10

Postby prog99 » Thu Sep 22, 2022 10:43 pm

Good talking there.
If you'd not doubled back on yourself after Carn a'Tuirc but instead dropped down to the road you could have added on Carn Aosda & The Cairnwell for about the same amount of effort. (Have done this before and theres even a path if you look hard enough)
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Re: Glas Maol's Family of 10

Postby Dave Hewitt » Fri Sep 23, 2022 9:24 am

prog99 wrote:If you'd not doubled back on yourself after Carn a'Tuirc but instead dropped down to the road you could have added on Carn Aosda & The Cairnwell for about the same amount of effort. (Have done this before and theres even a path if you look hard enough)

Beat me to it - I was about to say the same thing. I'm fond of this group of Munros and have been on them a fair bit over the years (double figures for all of them). I mostly tend to start either where the OP started or the equivalent car park on the north side of the pass, and either way it seems as easy to cross Aosda/Cairnwell to get back to the start and is certainly more pleasant and safer than slogging back over the top of the road. I was there again last month in fact - started south of the pass, did Leacach-Maol-Claise-Tuirc then down to the road and back via Aosda-Cairnwell. The whole thing took just under 7hr10 of which 50 minutes were spent sitting around here and there. Carn an Tuirc to the road took 54 minutes no rush, and the plod straight up Carn Aosda (I did the old encouragement-trick of not breaking stride at the road/col) took 43 minutes without a stop (as prog99 says, these days there's a path, at least on the lower half of the slope). The western section took just under 2hr20 overall, with stops totalling 13 minutes on the two final Munros combined.

There are lots of options given the high start and easy walking - another thing to do is to continue further east and take in Cairn Bannoch and Broad Cairn as well (I've done that and still finished over Cairnwell/Aosda!), and I know of stronger walkers than me who have pushed on towards Lochnagar and still got back to the road. There's a curious aversion to doing stuff on either side of a road on the same day, eg the six main Drumochter Munros from say Dalnaspidal is a pretty straightforward loop but hardly anyone seems to do it, similarly with Ghlas-Corranaich-Tarmachan on either side of the high Lawers road - if the road wasn't there people would do that as a standard round, but as it is it's rare to hear of it being done.
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