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Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro


Postby jstalker66621 » Mon Dec 26, 2011 12:29 am

Munros included on this walk: Meall Chuaich

Date walked: 25/12/2011

Time taken: 3 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 614m

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I had set my heart on doing a Munro for xmas day this year...just to round off the year with something special (but also as a cathartic experience, something to remove myself from normal surroundings and being able to contemplate the year I have just had). After falling short on Wednesday in Glen Lochay I had concerns for the weather stopping me again...the forecast was less then impressive. I departed Aberdeen just after six this morning and drove through to Drumochter, arriving at layby 94 on the south side of the A9 shortly before nine. From Ballindalloch onwards the rain had been falling steadily, from Granton-on-spey the wind had increased and was blowing the car all over the road...not encouraging signs thus far. I procrastinated in the car for a while...will I won't I...then remembered why I was here in the first place. After struggling to get my socks and boots on in the front seat (they really do need to make Polo's a little more roomy in front), then donning waterproofs, I was ready to leave just before half nine.
I could see most of Meall Chuaich from the car so realised that I could make my bag lighter immediately by ditching the ice axe and crampons (which I had been doubly careful to pack this time), as the rain had done a good job of melting most of the recent snow in the area. With my pack re done I set off into the maelstrom...

The initial walk is along a good quality path from the roadside, cross two gates, which are kept locked, and join on to a path running the length of the aqueduct. This path continues on till you arrive at the Hydro station for the dam and was my first stop of the day.
I had been up since five o'clock, driving since six, and last night's chili was starting to cause me some discomfort. With the lack of toilet facilities on the road up (everywhere being closed as it's xmas day) I knew I would need to go Au natural at some point!! Normally I am reticent to go outdoors (emergencies only on Beinn a Bhuirdh and Beinn Teallach from my memory) unless I am camping out...but needs must!! Thankfully the hydro station provided a perfect wind-break to hide behind (pardon the pun). Feeling a tad more relaxed after shedding some undue weight I carried on and made some good time to the foot of the Munro...passing the Loch and a bothy on the way.

The path up the Munro was slightly boggy but nothing compared to most of the adventures I have had this year.
Unfortunately, as I was rising the wind was increasing, though thankfully the temperature didn't and I was able to leave my gloves off initially (makes using the camera easier). When I reached the 700m mark the wind became quite violent, it was blowing me to the side constantly, I was struggling to hold my walking poles and I kept staggering back and forth as the gusts increased. I struggled on slowly (or so it felt) as I was forever being blown sideways or backwards (it was worse than the Brothers Ridge recently).

I did manage to stop for some pics of the views across to Drumochter's other Munro's, the Alder range of Munro's and also the Laggan Munro's all in the distance and obscured at times with cloud. They all seemed to have a fair covering of snow on them, compared to Meall Chuaich that wouldn't be hard. It seemed I was on the only snow free Munro in the entire area...not exactly the white xmas I was hoping for!! I continued to battle against the wind, thankful that there were no ridges or sharp edges to worry about being blown off...in fact the worst that could really have happened was I would land on a rock...or roll for a distance on the grass if I got blown over. Neither happened so I have no danger of death stories to relay this time...

I made it to the broad summit plateau and easily found the cairn at 951m...even though the mist closed in briefly at the top, before being blown off again by the gusts just as quickly. Jelly McBaby came out and braved the elements (if truth be told he basically carried me on this one...jelly babies are so full of energy after all) and took a safe stance for his summit pic in the middle of the cairn.
I contemplated having my lunch here, hiding behind the cairn out of the hurricane that was developing, but even the lure of xmas puddy and custard couldn't make me linger there any longer than was necessary. Pics taken I stepped out from the cairn and immediately stepped back behind it...fluff me it was getting worse!!
I braved it again and really struggled to stand up against the wind, which was right in my face now, puling my hat and hood down as tight as I could I battled into the wind...every step was a real struggle...my poles were being blown about every time I lifted them off the ground...I could feel my hood blowing open then my hat started to get pulled off my head. I tightened the strap on my hat and moved on...but it was useless...my hat flew from my head and only some speedy reactions stopped me from losing it completely.
I stuffed it in my jacket and battled on with the wind pounding my bare head...bloody hell that was one of the most painful experiences I have had yet on a hill...my head felt frozen within seconds but there was nothing I could do until I got out of this wind...curses for having an acute lack of follicle resistance against the biting cold!!

The wind didn't ease up all the way down the hillside, blowing me constantly backwards or sideways again (how does that work when it was the same on the way up?? It used to be the same if you ran a circular route of the town in Peterhead..always in your face..mental!!!).
I was glad to make it back to the small wooden bridge leading to the bothy...some shelter at last from the wind...though not for long...as soon as I passed the bothy I was on open path again and the wind just wouldn't stop.
The only plus point at this stage was I had noticed the time...twelve o'clock...meaning that I had actually made good time. The recommendation for the route is between 5-6 hours but at this rate I was going to do it in considerably less than that.

I traversed the return path, all into the wind, as quickly as I was able (no pit stops this time at least) and snapped away as I went at the surrounding hills, at least until the rain made an unwelcome return.
From the aqueduct onwards the rain tried it's damnedest to spoil my day, but that was futile, I had just climbed a Munro on xmas day, nothing could spoil it for me.
By the time I made it back to the road the rain had increased and my jacket was soaking, my head was frozen even with my hood up now, and my hands were feeling numb from the cold.

Back in the warmth and safety of the car I set about getting changed again out of damp clothes and boots, squeezed into that front seat. Then it was time for my xmas treat of puddy and custard from my flask...yum yum.

The journey home was uneventful and quicker than usual due to the lack of traffic on the roads today...except for a strange moment when I was driving past Aviemore on the A9...at the new housing development at the rear of Aviemore there was a man in tank-top and cords thumbing a lift...clearly relying on the xmas spirit to come to the fore...he was rather disappointed when I thundered on by and gave me the finger...some strange people in this world right enough!!

Although Meall Chuaich can never be described as an exciting Munro, the occasion will mean I remember it fondly in years to come...my first ever xmas Munro. I hope that xmas has been as kind to you all as it has for me...and wish everyone a happy Munro bagging 2012 x
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jstalker66621
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby pigeon » Mon Dec 26, 2011 10:52 am

Ha ha ,never eat chilli the night before a hike :lol: (or curry,been down that road :( :( )Well done on braving the wind,got blown about a bit up there as well but not as bad as yourself by the sounds of it.Hope this wind calms down soon ,still blawin strong yet :(
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby kevsbald » Mon Dec 26, 2011 9:22 pm

If the wind was anything like we experienced on the 24th, I commend your effort. Hope you were able to banish whatever blues that had affected you in 2011 and hope 2012 is a better one for you.
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby pollyh33 » Mon Dec 26, 2011 9:49 pm

Fluff me! That was fluffing fantastic :lol: :lol:

Any chance I could borrow Jelly McBaby? I could do with a bit of carrying up hills :thumbup:

Merry Christmas XXXX
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby jstalker66621 » Mon Dec 26, 2011 10:05 pm

pigeon wrote:Ha ha ,never eat chilli the night before a hike :lol: (or curry,been down that road :( :( :(


I forgot just how potent a batch I had made the last time, it also seems to get stronger once its been frozen :shock:
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby jstalker66621 » Mon Dec 26, 2011 10:13 pm

kevsbald wrote:Hope you were able to banish whatever blues that had affected you in 2011 and hope 2012 is a better one for you.


Cheers Kev...I had a change of personal circumstances early in the year, compounded by working somewhere I no longer wanted to be. The work situation has been resolved as I now work in another establishment closer to home with better hours and staff...the other I have come to terms with (or something like that)...but on a plus note I have managed my best year bagging yet...65 was my final count. I hope 2012 is a good one for everyone that ventures into the hills.
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby jstalker66621 » Mon Dec 26, 2011 10:18 pm

pollyh33 wrote:Fluff me! That was fluffing fantastic :lol: :lol:

Any chance I could borrow Jelly McBaby? I could do with a bit of carrying up hills :thumbup:

Merry Christmas XXXX


I have resolved to swear less, at least in my blog, this year, hence the fluffing fluff.
Get yer own Jelly McBaby...He has enough on his plate carrying my rather rotund behind up slopes 8) 8)

Have a hoopy xmas yourself xx
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby Mountainlove » Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:06 pm

Well done on you braving the hills on christmas day!! Love the idea of custard in a flask!! Need to remember that one for a sweet treat! Happy hillwalking for 2012 for you as well!!!
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby quoman » Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:33 pm

Hi jstalker66621

Well done on getting oot thats a bit different conditions fi when i done it last week you had more wind than me i only had BOILED EGGS the night before :lol: :lol:
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby jstalker66621 » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:34 pm

Mountainlove wrote:Well done on you braving the hills on christmas day!! Love the idea of custard in a flask!! Need to remember that one for a sweet treat! Happy hillwalking for 2012 for you as well!!!


The xmas puddy was a touch too rich for me but the custard would work well with anything else for the next time...deffo one to repeat on New Year day :D :D
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby jstalker66621 » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:35 pm

quoman wrote:Hi jstalker66621

Well done on getting oot thats a bit different conditions fi when i done it last week you had more wind than me i only had BOILED EGGS the night before :lol: :lol:


Ooh boiled eggs are more likely to enduce gas than wind :oops: :oops:
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby luckyguy68 » Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:03 pm

Well done on getting out there and no turning back. :clap: Your report on the toileting facilities had me in stiches. Only on the WH site! :lol:
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby jstalker66621 » Tue Dec 27, 2011 11:14 pm

luckyguy68 wrote:Well done on getting out there and no turning back. :clap: Your report on the toileting facilities had me in stiches. Only on the WH site! :lol:


Toilet breaks on hills is fast becoming a reccurring theme at the moment...though some folk reading my blog think I should post a warning prior to reading for those that are eating!!! Never been squeamish myself... :sick:
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby mountain thyme » Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:16 am

well done on getting out on xmas day! i remember this one well too! was at a bbq the day before and i was sick in the car all the way from glasgow to there! at times like that its when you know youre addicted :)
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Re: Meall Chuaich...my xmas Munro

Postby jstalker66621 » Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:30 am

mountain thyme wrote:well done on getting out on xmas day! i remember this one well too! was at a bbq the day before and i was sick in the car all the way from glasgow to there! at times like that its when you know youre addicted :)



Being sick in the car appears to be a runnning theme..I just started to read your Aonach Eagach story :D
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