walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

The Drumochter two!

The Drumochter two!


Postby PeteR » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:53 pm

Route description: A' Mharconaich and Geal Charn, Drumochter

Munros included on this walk: A' Mharconaich, Geal-charn (Drumochter)

Date walked: 11/12/2011

Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Having foregone my weekly ‘fix’ of the hills the previous weekend in favour of Christmas shopping :( I was feeling heartily jealous of all the great reports and pictures I was seeing posted by all you lucky so-and-sos’ who had had the opportunity to get out and play in the snow. So I was determined that I would be joining in this weekend. With the A82 being closed at Corran though the northwest highlands was out for me, and I was looking east.

And with the pin landing on Drumochter the plan was to see if I could get an early start and complete the 4 Munros to the west of the A9 in a oner :D That plan soon got changed though as the weather early doors wasn’t quite what I was expecting and led to a later start than I was hoping for :(

Anyway, I arrived at Balsporran cottages plenty early with the intention of an hour’s kip before heading off (well actually it seemed I’d drove past the cottages a couple of times before I finally realised where they were :lol: :lol: :lol: ). One look at the iced up parking area though decided I’d be parking in the nearest roadside lay by instead!! While I might have got the car into the parking area I wasn’t sure I’d be getting it out :shock: :shock:

As I said the original plan had been to get an early start and push myself to do all four of the hills Geal Charn, A’Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain and Sgairneach Mhor. But the weather wasn’t playing ball and instead of heading off up the hills I was sat waiting and hoping the weather would improve a bit, as I wasn’t overly keen on a soaking right from the start. Initial signs weren’t good, as the sky turned black and rain turned to snow!!! The thought of heading home did cross my mind on more than one occasion, but eventually the snow passed and the clouds broke :D :D :D A result, and soon enough I was heading for Geal Charn and A’Mharconaich, having kicked the idea of the full round of four into touch.
DSCF5487.JPG
The Boar from the A9

DSCF5492.JPG
A' Mharconaich crom the A9

I’ve must say it felt good getting the winter boots on for the first time this winter. I love the changing seasons in the hills (when it isn’t raining of course :lol: :lol:), with each season providing its own atmosphere. But I really do look forward to the snow :D :D So I was feeling quite a sense of anticipation as I headed off to Balsporran cottages around 9.30 :D
DSCF5494.JPG
Balsporran Cottages

DSCF5495.JPG
I wasn't parking my car on that!!

DSCF5496.JPG
View toward Geal Charn from Balsporran Cottages

Deciding I had the necessary permission I quickly nipped over the railway crossing and headed off along the landrover track into Coire Fhar, until the path branches right just after crossing a burn and heads onto the hill. I believe there is a wide path to follow up onto Geal Charn, but you wouldn’t know with the snow. So for me it was a case of hitting the ridge line and then making my way up as directly as possible.
DSCF5497.JPG
View from the level crossing

DSCF5498.JPG
Geal Charn again

DSCF5500.JPG
View toward the east side of Drumochter

DSCF5501.JPG
A' Mharconaich

DSCF5502.JPG
A' Mharconaich on the track toward Geal Charn

DSCF5505.JPG
My contribution to wildlife sightings

DSCF5507.JPG
Perhaps my favourite photo of the day

So far so good. The weather was looking bright...........although, wait a moment, what’s that coming over the hill? Is it a monster, no...........it’s more dark clouds :shock: :lol: :shock: :lol: I sensed the snow was a comin’ again :shock: :shock: And I wasn’t wrong :lol: :lol: Blowing right into my face it was as I was heading up Geal Charn :wtf: :wtf: My goggles didn’t help any, as they got covered in snow and then when I wiped it off everything was blurred and I couldn’t see out of them anyway. So I gave up with the goggles and just let the snow do its worst :? :lol: Given the earlier snow shower when I was holed up in the car hadn’t lasted that long I was hopeful this one would be over pretty soon too and the cloud would lift.

The photo count during the next phase of the walk dropped off considerably :shock: Here it is :lol: :lol:
DSCF5508.JPG
Oi, where'd the views go....?

I enjoyed the walk up Geal Charn. The snow wasn’t too bad and although I was walking blind in the whiteness it wasn’t too long before I was at the first set of cairns on the hill. Although I knew they weren’t the summit they still managed to throw me a bit in the mist.
DSCF5510.JPG
Cairn near the summit of Geal Charn

Stopped here for a few moments to get my bearings and work out the direction for the final summit push.

The final walk to the summit of Geal Charn took longer than it should have, but with no clear point of reference visible I was stopping as often as I needed to ensure I was happy I was heading in what I had decided to be the right direction, constantly peering into the whiteness to see if I could make out any shadow looming which might be the final rise up to the summit. Ordinarily this would just be a simple stole to the summit, but I was being careful given the conditions and eventually the expected shadow appeared and then I was soon at the summit cairn (well, actually to be honest I’m confused by Geal Charn, as it has two cairns. Not sure which is the true summit, so in the whiteness I paid a visit to both just to be sure). Here’s one of them.
DSCF5514.JPG
One of the Geal Charn summit cairns

Now it was decision time. Although it had stopped snowing by now it was still pretty windy and the clag was hanging on longer than I had expected. So, did I continue on to A’Mharconaich or did I bail and return the way I had come? I wasn’t sure I fancied another couple of hours walking practically blind in all this whiteness, but it just felt too early to bail and so, despite the chilly wind, I decided to hang around on the top of Geal Charn in the hope that the sun would win through eventually. A sad old man twiddling his fingers in the snow and mist stood waiting :lol:

But it was another good call on my part as, after a short(ish) wait, most of the cloud seemed to suddenly dissolve and the views opened up.

Queue immediate increase in photo count :D

There were great views to my possible next destination, A’Mharconaich as well as increasingly improving views across Loch Ericht to the Alder hills. Decision made.........it was time to continue the route as planned.
DSCF5515.JPG
A' Mharconaich from Geal Charn

DSCF5522.JPG
From one Geal Charn to another

Looking toward the saddle with A’Mharconaich it looked a deceptively gentle slope up to the ridge of the hill and I was thinking this would be a quick hop and a skip to the top :lol: :lol: :lol: That wasn’t quite the case though :?
DSCF5530.JPG
A' Mharconaich saddle and route up

DSCF5533.jpg
Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil

DSCF5538.jpg
Snowy view back to Geal Charn

DSCF5543.jpg
The Alder hills

The snow was a bit temperamental at this stage – one moment it was nice and firm and then the next step it was up to my nether regions in snow. It had me in stitches one time though, as I fell into one particular hole up past my waist and then seemed somehow incapable of getting myself out for laughing :lol: :lol: (I’m easily amused or so it would seem). Once I had eventually dragged myself out of that hole with an alarming lack of grace or poise I decided to avoid the larger snow patches for a while and instead made a route up via as much of the rockier sections as I could. Made for a pretty direct route up, which was probably steeper than would have been the case had I been able to follow the path I believe makes it way up onto ridge, but which was obviously obliterated by the snow for me hahaha. The end result was that it took a bit longer than I had expected when viewing this apparently easy gradient when I walked down off Geal Charn :lol:

At last though, I was on the broad ridge and heading toward the summit. By now the clear skies I’d enjoyed heading off Geal Charn were being quickly replaced by more cloud, with the wind still whipping about a fair bit too.
DSCF5561.jpg
The A' Mharconaich ridge at last. Looking back toward the Udlamain direction

I picked up a line of fencepost for a short distance and then headed off up the gradual slope to the summit of A’Mharconaich. The views were better than I had hoped, given the weather closing in again, although didn’t really do the business in the photos I took. I didn’t hang around too long at the summit and was soon heading down the north eastern ridge back toward Balsporran cottages.
DSCF5565.jpg
A' Mharconaich summit and cairn

DSCF5567.jpg
A9 view from A' Mharconaich summit

The initial drop off the summit wasn’t as steep as I had expected it to be, but perhaps that was because at last the snow was working in my favour and making it easier on my legs going down.
DSCF5579.jpg
A' Mharconaich descent route

Initially I was enjoying the descent down off this hill and was taking it nice and relaxed – but that soon changed. Lower down the ridge the deeper snow got a bit tiresome as the uncertainty of what I was stepping on returned. One moment firm and the next sinking to my nether regions again :wtf: :wtf: Photo count from this point was nil as the snow set in again and it was a case of getting my head down and back to the car as quickly as possible.

Eventually I gave up on the planned route back via Balsporran and instead made a bee-line for the road and another level crossing over the river, as this would be a quicker route back to the car. I still had to deal with sinking into the snow at regular intervals, but the knowledge it would be over soon enough made it a little easier to deal with :lol: But not much easier :lol:

All in all this was a great day out and if this is what the winter has in store then bring it on :D :D I’m now looking forward to returning and picking off the two remaining Drumochter hills sometime soon (I’d say Christmas day, but MrsR would kill me if I ever tried to pull a stunt like that :lol: :lol: :lol:)
User avatar
PeteR
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 1950
Munros:282   Corbetts:148
Grahams:85   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:154   Hewitts:3
Islands:7
Joined: Jan 27, 2010
Location: North Ayrshire

Re: The Drumochter two!

Postby pigeon » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:59 pm

Great report Pete ,looks like a few of us have un-finished business up there,be the new year before we get back up,getting fed up driving that A9 :lol:
User avatar
pigeon
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 1353
Munros:282   Corbetts:92
Grahams:35   Donalds:35
Sub 2000:16   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:1   Islands:2
Joined: Apr 29, 2010
Location: Linlithgow

Re: The Drumochter two!

Postby rockhopper » Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:05 pm

bit of a change from dooters' weather the day before but still very nice and a lot better than Christmas shopping ! :D cheers
User avatar
rockhopper
 
Posts: 6269
Munros:282   Corbetts:187
Grahams:59   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:8   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: Jun 1, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: The Drumochter two!

Postby dooterbang » Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:16 pm

Damn!! Wish i had came out on Sunday with you :lol: :lol:

well done on getting out and getting the 2 done.

What a difference a day makes....24 little hours :lol:

We touched the 2 cairns also :)

Oh i also drove by the cottages....and at first i did park in that car park :shock: :lol:
User avatar
dooterbang
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1824
Munros:255   Corbetts:57
Grahams:18   Donalds:10
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:18
Wainwrights:21   Islands:19
Joined: Oct 27, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: The Drumochter two!

Postby pollyh33 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:55 pm

Another great report Pete :D

Well done getting two done, I only managed Geal Charn and had to head back (really poor visibility :( )


Smashing photos too!
User avatar
pollyh33
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 2573
Munros:282   Corbetts:15
Grahams:5   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:1   
Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Location: Rutherglen

Re: The Drumochter two!

Postby goth_angel » Wed Dec 14, 2011 9:48 am

Nice report. Don't know why people call these boring hills, the views are good and you get to start half way up! :lol:
User avatar
goth_angel
 
Posts: 294
Munros:101   Corbetts:9
Grahams:4   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:13   Hewitts:53
Wainwrights:103   
Joined: May 13, 2008
Location: Too far awav from Scotland (Kent)

Re: The Drumochter two!

Postby PeteR » Wed Dec 14, 2011 9:54 pm

pigeon wrote:Great report Pete ,looks like a few of us have un-finished business up there,be the new year before we get back up,getting fed up driving that A9 :lol:


Cheers pigeon. Drivewise this is a shorter trip for me than heading up the west coast, so a bit of a bonus for me. I got a bit of a lie in :D

rockhopper wrote:bit of a change from dooters' weather the day before but still very nice and a lot better than Christmas shopping ! :D cheers


Cheers rockhopper. Don't like the crowds at the best of times and this time of year Iin particular start to turn into Jeremy Clarkson :lol: The peace and quiet of the hills is what I do best :D

dooterbang wrote:Damn!! Wish i had came out on Sunday with you :lol: :lol:

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: oh I don't think so. And there was me wishing I'd been out with Snow White and her 7 Dwarves on the Saturday :lol: But a walk in the snow is great whatever the weather in my book 8)

pollyh33 wrote:Another great report Pete :D

Well done getting two done, I only managed Geal Charn and had to head back (really poor visibility :( )


Smashing photos too!

Cheers Polly. I was surprised I located the summit of Geal Charn as it was just a wall of whiteness I was walking in and I couldn't see the first cairn until I was nearly on it :lol: So glad the clouds lifted and I got the second one in too. Not quite dooterbang weather, but a good day all the same and I'd certainly recommend these two for a good winter walk :D

goth_angel wrote:Nice report. Don't know why people call these boring hills, the views are good and you get to start half way up! :lol:

Cheers goth_angel. I don't necessarily think there are bad hills as such, although there are hills I can say prefer much more then others. I think I was influenced in the past by the suggestion these were boring hills and so gave them a miss, but I didn't think they were bad at all when I was walking them. Perhaps the snow helped though. Might think differently in the bog :lol: :lol:
User avatar
PeteR
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 1950
Munros:282   Corbetts:148
Grahams:85   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:154   Hewitts:3
Islands:7
Joined: Jan 27, 2010
Location: North Ayrshire

Re: The Drumochter two!

Postby mrssanta » Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:23 am

this is superb your pictures are so atmospheric
User avatar
mrssanta
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 2944
Munros:240   Corbetts:10
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:44
Wainwrights:40   Islands:8
Joined: Jul 18, 2011
Location: north yorkshire moors

Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).



Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Christo1979, menmuic and 40 guests