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Geal-charn & the Drumochter 4

Geal-charn & the Drumochter 4


Postby clivew » Sun Apr 22, 2012 1:08 pm

Route description: A' Mharconaich and Geal Charn, Drumochter

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

Date walked: 21/04/2012

Time taken: 8.5 hours

Distance: 22 km

Ascent: 1140m

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Did my usual check of the mountain weather forecast about half a dozen times on Thursday & Friday before deciding it was going to be good enough to attempt this walk. Plan B was to start at Balsporran Cottage do Geal-charn and A'Mharconaich and if the weather turned bad to exit the hills back to the A9. Plan A was to carry on from A'Mharconaich to Ben Udlamain, Sgairneach Mhor and possibly even the Sow of Atholl. You always need a plan B this time of the year.
Had a very early start from Edinburgh and was parked up at Balsporran Cottages by about 8.00, I would like to be able to say it was a fantastic morning, sun shining, birds singing etc. etc. but it wasn't, it was s...e, wet and miserable. I hate having to get the waterproofs on at the start of a walk but this was one of those morning where you had no choice. What's the last thing you think of putting in your pack when it's pouring with rain and you can see the cloud shrouding the summits down to about 700m, you've got it, sun glasses. That was a big mistake as my wrap around shades are perfect for walking in snow, not only do they stop the glare they keep the blowing snow from stinging your eyes, I always manage to forget something.
Crossed the rail line by the cottage at about 8.15 and followed the track for a few hundred metres before taking the second turning right towards Geal-charn. The track peters out after a few hundred metres and for the next kilometre or so you follow a muddy track/stream/bog call it what you like.

P1000237.JPG
The muddy track leading up to Geal-charn


I hit the cloud layer way below the summit of Geal-charn probably at about 700m and at about 800m it started to snow which was the reason why I needed my shades. It wasn't particularly heavy at this point but the higher I climbed the more snow there was.
I had taken the time to mark my route on the map on Friday night along with some compass bearing to walk on, this was a wise move as the visibility was down to about 10m. I hit the cairn on the summit at about 9.30, I was thinking of stopping here for breakfast but the snow was still blowing across a bit and the cairn was full of snow so decided to push on a bit before stopping for coffee.
P1000241.JPG
The summit cairn


The snow stopped blowing across as soon as I left the summit of Geal-charn so a bit lower down I found a friendly rock to sit on and had breakfast and coffee.
P1000242.JPG
Breakfast time


As I started to climb again the visibility was still very poor so I was walking on compass bearings alone, I hit the track at map ref. 593 766 at the top of the Allt Coire Fhar so I was pleased I was where I was supposed to be. Crossed the burn and started climbing up to the summit of A'Mharconaich; visibility was particularly bad at this stage but it wasn't snowing much. One of the big problems with fresh snow when visibility is so bad is you can't see any of the tracks that normally lead you to the summit cairn, Lady Luck was on my side and I hit the summit cairn without any bother. I decided at this point to follow plan "A" and head for Ben Udlamain. Although visibility was poor thankfully I picked up the old County Boundary fence posts and managed to follow them towards the summit of Beinn Udlamain. Someone else had obviously walked this track a few days earlier as I found a waterproof glove, if it's yours let me know and I'll post it to you. The snow was fairly deep in places and blowing across quite strongly again stinging my eyes in almost white out conditions, but ever the optimist I was hoping for that little window of sunshine you occasionally get at times like this. Unfortunately it didn't happen yet.

P1000246.JPG
fence post are wonderful things


Reached the summit of Beinn Udlamain okay and followed the fence posts on down to Carn'lc Loumhaidh at about map ref. 578 727; as I was approaching this spot the cloud suddenly cleared and the sun came out I was delighted to say the least. It allowed me to see my next target and confirm my route up to Sgairneach Mhor, I stopped on a rock for lunch and really enjoyed being able to see something of the surrounding mountains and Loch Ericht; even had the company of some birds (of the feathered kind).

P1000248.JPG
Clear sky at last with a brief glimpse of Loch Ericht


P1000251.JPG
Someone to shair my lunch with


The walk up towards Sgairneach Mhow was very tiring because of the depth of snow, its amazing how a bit of snow saps your energy. Part way up to the summit the cloud returned but I was walking on a bearing again and was pretty confident of hitting my target, even so I was relieved when the trig point came in view.

P1000255.JPG
The summit of Sgairneach Mhor


Just to prove I was there I even added an arms length self portrait.

P1000256.JPG
An arms length self portrait


The cloud lifted again soon after I reached the summit of Sgairneach Mhor and the route on towards the Sow of Athol along with my aching legs meant that the Sow would have to wait for another day. So I took a bearing and headed for the top of the track leading towards the A9. The route down towards the track was enjoyable enough but the walk back to the road was a bit boring after the excitement of the trek over the Mountains. By now the sun was shining and it was warm enough to remove a couple of layers for the first time today. If I though the trek back to the A9 was boring the walk back north along the A9 was even worse it's about 3.5k of sheer hell, I stuck my thumb out a couple of times but soon gave it up as a bad job. Got back to the Balsporran Cottages at about 4.45 I was pretty knackered and not looking forward to the 2 hour drive back home. But on the plus side it was a great day out and a confidence booster to my map reading skills if nothing else. Phoned the wife as I approached the Forth Bridge, she run my bath and put a couple of cans in the fridge, she might not understand why I enjoy getting up into the hills in poor weather but she certainly looks after me when I get home.
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clivew
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Re: Geal-charn & the Drumochter 4

Postby Owen b » Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:29 pm

So it was your footsteps I was following - I've just done these four today by exactly the same route in better conditions. The snow is now pretty much confined to the north / north east / north west facing slopes above 850m. I enjoyed it, much nicer looking Munros than the ones facing on the other side of the A9. Sorry you had the rubbish weather yesterday. I was contemplating a walk yesterday but with the grotty weather decided on a day off.
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Re: Geal-charn & the Drumochter 4

Postby quoman » Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:12 pm

Same as you hate putting the waterproofs on from the start..you find yourself sweating like hell especially in along walk like this............. i got a lift back to the cottage from an italian not much talking on the way back but very grateful indeed.
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Re: Geal-charn & the Drumochter 4

Postby Fudgie » Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:46 pm

That was an enjoyable read. It's good to see the weather didn't put you off and I'll hopefully follow your route some day soon.
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Re: Geal-charn & the Drumochter 4

Postby mrssanta » Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:41 pm

Lady Luck was on my side and I hit the summit cairn without any bother.

go on give yourself some credit, it was skill in compass work!!
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Re: Geal-charn & the Drumochter 4

Postby clivew » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:27 pm

mrssanta wrote:Lady Luck was on my side and I hit the summit cairn without any bother.

go on give yourself some credit, it was skill in compass work!!

I wish it was, my compass skills can be a bit hit and miss, sometimes I think I'm in too much of a rush
clivew
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Re: Geal-charn & the Drumochter 4

Postby clivew » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:30 pm

quoman wrote:Same as you hate putting the waterproofs on from the start..you find yourself sweating like hell especially in along walk like this............. i got a lift back to the cottage from an italian not much talking on the way back but very grateful indeed.

In my youth I used to hitch hike all over the place, I think I must have lost the knack, mind you I got bored after about 10 minutes and once you move away from the lay by you've got no chance of anyone stopping
clivew
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Re: Geal-charn & the Drumochter 4

Postby clivew » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:34 pm

Owen b wrote:So it was your footsteps I was following - I've just done these four today by exactly the same route in better conditions. The snow is now pretty much confined to the north / north east / north west facing slopes above 850m. I enjoyed it, much nicer looking Munros than the ones facing on the other side of the A9. Sorry you had the rubbish weather yesterday. I was contemplating a walk yesterday but with the grotty weather decided on a day off.

It was an enjoyable walk even in the poor weather, I did the two on the opposite side a couple of weeks ago, and you are right they are pretty featureless mounds sometimes it can be difficult to be sure you are at the summit
clivew
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Re: Geal-charn & the Drumochter 4

Postby clivew » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:37 pm

Fudgie wrote:That was an enjoyable read. It's good to see the weather didn't put you off and I'll hopefully follow your route some day soon.

Try and choose a day when the cloud is a bit higher, the brief break in the cloud gave fantastic views over Loch Ericht and further afield.
clivew
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