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Waking up above the clouds on the Drumochter Munros

Waking up above the clouds on the Drumochter Munros

Postby Tuppers42 » Fri Mar 24, 2023 6:05 pm

Route description: Beinn Udlamain and Sgàirneach Mhòr

Munros included on this walk: A' Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain, Geal-chàrn (Drumochter), Sgàirneach Mhòr

Date walked: 01/09/2021

Time taken: 21 hours

Distance: 25 km

Ascent: 1165m

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It seemed a shame to do just two of the Munros so, with good weather forecast I decided to tackle all four over two days. As I was staying in Aviemore it was only a thirty minute drive south on the A9 and I parked in the large parking area near Balsporran Cottages. My route would be clockwise and would involve a 4km walk south along the cycle path.
It was a warm afternoon when we set off with a cooling breeze and blue skies.

We turned away from the A9 and picked up the Walkhighlands route. We were soon away from the traffic noise and it wasn't long before we reached the bridge over the Allt Coire Dhomhain. The recent dry spell made me wonder how much water would be in the burns higher up so I took on about four litres of water before continuing.
I wasn't as hill fit as I would have liked hence the reason for taking two days. With a 15kg overnight pack I found myself puffing and panting on the seemingly never ending ascent of Sgairneach Mhor.

A brief rest with some refreshment revived me and we set off over the undulating ground towards Beinn Udlamain. When we crossed the head of Coire Dhomhain my decision to carry water from lower down was proved to have been the right one. The burns were nothing more than damp mud!

It was now approaching 6pm and I wanted to reach the summit of Beinn Udlamain to pitch the tent in daylight. The stony plateau was relatively easy to cross but finding an area large enough to pitch the tent wasn't. After some searching I spotted a small area to the north-west of the summit. Meg loves camping and as soon as the tent was pitched she was in it and asking for her food. With both of us fed and watered we turned in for a comfortable night under the stars.

I awoke around 5.30am for the sunrise and oh, what a sunrise it was :D Clouds filled the glens below us and the inversion was so strong that I was able to walk about in a thin base layer filming and taking photographs. The visibility in the clear air was superb. To the west Loch Ericht was covered with cloud but the Ben Alder massif rose through it. Further west Ben Nevis and the Mamores stood above the clouds. We had seen no-one since we left the car and we had the whole mountain to ourselves. I grabbed a couple more hours sleep, had some breakfast and then struck camp.

From Beinn Udlamain we followed the line of the old fence posts before dropping down to a bealach. The views to either side were sublime. Heading gently uphill we reached the summit plateau of A'Mharconaich. The summit is at the north end of the plateau and it was worth walking a little further to get the views down into Drumochter Pass. Cloud was pouring over the tops of the lower hills.

From A'Mharconaich we retraced our steps before turning north-west down to reach the bealach of Coire Fhar. The air was still warm above the inversion which was taking its time breaking up. I found myself wishing it wouldn't and wanting to stay above the clouds all day!

It was a rather sweaty ascent on to Geal-Charn where we had a wee break before heading down its east shoulder. Further down we reached an eroded section of path which has widened and become quite boggy.
Eventually we dropped down to the track which took us over the level crossing and back to the car.
The route can be done in one long day but spreading it over two days meant I could enjoy a more relaxed walk with the benefit of a summit camp and the bonus of a cloud inversion.
Posts: 7
Munros:67   Corbetts:23
Fionas:1   Donalds:6
Joined: Aug 26, 2017

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