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Geal Charn (Monadhliath)

Geal Charn (Monadhliath)


Postby halfaseesaw » Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:12 pm

Route description: Geal Chàrn, Monadhliath

Date walked: 15/07/2012

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 670m

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The build up to 200 continues, this time it was an outlier in the Monadhliath range that covers the high level bog between the A9 in the east and the Loch Ness in the west. The southern boundary is marked by the old military road that runs over Corrieyairack pass. To the north it finishes pretty much on the outskirts of Inverness. The name translates to “Grey Mountains”.

There are 4 tops that the SMC have denoted as Munros and this one, Geal Carn was the last one I had to climb in this area. The other 3 were climbed in my teens with my faither, A’Chailleach was in the rain and mist but fortunately, we returned one Easter to walk the other 2 we came back with a tan and wet boots. The day was long and sunny and by the time we reached the ford at Dalballoch, the water was in spate, about knee deep and very cold with snow melt. Not a problem, those were the days of yeti gaiters which worked well until the water became deeper than the gaiter. All self control and calm went out the window and I broke into a run to get across the last 1/3 of burn/river. Happy days.

Todays’ outing was a throwback to the trip up A’Chailleach, but not as pleasant. I had looked at the route choice on various web sites and guidebooks and I felt that parking at spey dam and the long walk in along a good track was better than a long walk in along a bad path. The only potential problem was fording the Markie burn, I had gleaned from sources on t’internet that there was, in fact, a footbridge over the burn about 1km further upstream should the burn be too high. I did have some concerns as it had been raining for quite a long time but as it happened, the hillside was wetter than the burn.

We followed the faint track uphill past the small waterfall and to a gate in a fence (not marked on the 25k map). Through the gate and an even fainter path which led towards the right hand side of the coire. By this time we were sill reasonably dry so we took the view that following the path was the best option. As we reached the coire rim, the heavens opened and I got map and compass out (just in case).

A black line is marked on the 25k map, running up and onto the summit plateau. I set us on a bearing to intersect this (knowing it would be an old fence or dyke). When we reached this we were able to use it as a “handrail” to lead us to a 90 degree bend in the fence. I then used this bend as an “attack point” to the summit cairn. From the map, I knew it to be 200m away and I was spot on. Then it all went a bit pear shaped.
I took a bearing for the window feature, Uinneag Coire an Lochan (similar but smaller than the one on Creag Meggie), and we started down. From previous experience I knew that it is easy to be moved off bearing by the wind so I started to micro navigate using bumps and rocks. Unfortunately we kind of ran out of features in what I could only describe as boggy bog. I actually went in up to my calf at one point. Deteriorating visibility, poor navigation and constantly weaving backwards and forwards made us deviate from our bearing. Then I allowed myself to be swayed by the terrain going the way I thought it should rather than sticking to the compass. Anyway, we dropped down out of the cloud and it was obvious to me that we were heading 180 degrees in the wrong direction. Fortunately we weren’t too far and 10 minutes of gentle walking uphill brought us to the window.

A GPS would have helped but with hindsight I should have stuck rigidly to the bearing, even resorting to sending MrsH forward on the bearing for 10 or 20 meters. Then walking on and repeating as necessary. The other option of “aiming off” wasn’t really ideal as that would have meant heading towards cliffs then working across to the right.

We descended the window to the lochan, and then we bog trotted back to the gate in heavy rain and down to the ford as the sun came out. In celebration, we stopped for a bite to eat.

It felt like a long walk back to the car, probably because it was.

I think myself fortunate as I am considerably better equipped now than I was back then. To be more precise: gore-tex boots; seal skins socks; breathable hard-shell; wicking base layer; micro fleece; excellent compass and detailed map. For all that, I still took a wrong turn and got wet feet.

Some things are timeless.

Apologies for the lack of photos but I haven’t yet purchased a waterproof camera.

The moral of this story is “the compass is 5 nines right, the user is not”.

Didn't see another soul all day.
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halfaseesaw
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Re: Geal Charn (Monadhliath)

Postby jonnoh » Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:36 pm

Very entertaining and well written report.
I did 5 hills recently in the Cairngorms and also got wet feet after 'failing' to dryly cross a burn early on in the walk. Went right over my gaitors leaving me with a long squelchy round over bogs, peat hags and undulating ground in misty conditions. So much for my new performance socks, nikwaxed boots etc! I think I'll take the time to remove my boots the next time!
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Re: Geal Charn (Monadhliath)

Postby rockhopper » Tue Jul 17, 2012 12:09 am

Enjoyed reading your report. If it's any consolation :roll: , I was also up Geal Charn on Sunday but started at 0530 which may have been before you ? Oddly enough I'd planned to cycle up Glen Markie past Piper's Burn, leave the bike and cross the bridge as I was hoping to see the corrie on the NE side. However, with the deterioration in the weather, I decided to shelve that idea - walking's bad enough in the rain never mind cycling and I knew I wouldn't be able to see the corrie anyway in the clag 8) . I did meet one other walker on her way up at about 0900 when I wasn't far from the car park at Garva Bridge.

Have attached a couple of photos of the cairn and view [ :lol: ] from the top for info

Cheers :D

GC cairn 15jul2012.JPG


GC view 15jul2012.JPG
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Re: Geal Charn (Monadhliath)

Postby halfaseesaw » Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:15 am

That was well before us!! we left the car at about 10ish. The summit did clear briefly as we crossed the corrie and again when we returned to the Markie. But if you blinked it you'd have missed it. The view looks identical.

@ Jonnoh - I can put up with almost anything but wet feet. I'm sure there is a market for walking waders.
halfaseesaw
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