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5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich


Postby jupe1407 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:19 pm

Route description: A' Mharconaich and Geal Charn, Drumochter

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

Date walked: 02/12/2012

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 11 km

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I had pretty much given up on any further Munro walks this year, mainly through lack of experience and winter equipment. However a hastily arranged walk invite on Friday, ironically received while halfway up Mount Blair resulted in a response of "**** it, why not!". So i set about purchasing various bits and pieces and started to make arrangements. The trickiest of which was the realisation that as i was to be staying in Arbroath, i'd be getting up at 5am, to meet one of my walking partners in Forfar. I used to come HOME at this sort of time, not get up and go out :lol:

Anyhow, onto the day's events. My phone alarm duly went off at 4:55 (thought i'd better build in 5 minutes for me to throw it across the bedroom floor in frustration, then get up and stumble about looking for it to switch the cursed thing off). Breakfast was wolfed down. I say breakfast, but a couple of slices of toast and an obscenely strong coffee may not count, and after shivering like what seemed an eternity, the car was defrosted and I was off.

There then followed a fairly amusing (or terrifying) drive through a series of backroads to reach the A9, and by 8:00am we were ready to go. We started past the B&B and headed up the path to Geal Charn. Not long into the walk, you start to remember why such early rises are worth it:

20121202 Drumochter Pass-1-8.jpg
Sunrise over the A9


20121202 Drumochter Pass-1-3.jpg
A wee look across to A'Mharconaich


20121202 Drumochter Pass-1-4.jpg
Looking ahead to Geal Charn


The pull up to Geal Charn's eventual summit isn't particularly dramatic, but some of the surrounding views were fantastic, and the snow covering really increases the "wow" factor.

20121202 Drumochter Pass-1-10.jpg


20121202 Drumochter Pass-1-7.jpg


After a relatively straightforward trudge through heather and snow, we reached the summit.

20121202 Geal Charn Summit.JPG
Geal Charn Summit


A quick wander across to a nearby cairn allowed us to get some fantastic views across Loch Ericht to Ben Alder and the hills beyond.

20121202 Drumochter Pass-1-17.jpg
Loch Ericht


There then followed a straightforward descent to the bealach. Now, i assume in summer there's a fairly sensible path to A'Mharconaich. However we decided to follow the footsteps of the two walkers ahead of us, which resulted in a thigh burning yomp straight up the hill. The pain in my thighs and calves was eventually matched by the pleasure of reaching the plateau below the summit, and the absolutely stunning views around.

20121202 Drumochter Pass-1-20.jpg


20121202 Drumochter Pass-1-22.jpg
Schiehallion


20121202 Summit Pic.JPG
A'Mharconaich's snow covered summit cairn


And so came the bit i was most worried about. The descent was described as a little tricky in winter conditions, and i'm still slightly worried about my ankle injury of a few months ago, so a steep, icy descent was definitely not high on my list of stuff I really wanted to do. However, the initial steepness was made much easier by the soft, fresh snow so i was able to kick my heels in and made this section with no problem at all. Looking back up towards the initial descent of the mountain was quite an impressive sight...

20121202 Drumochter Pass-1-23.jpg
A'Mharconaich descent


20121202 Drumochter Pass-1-27.jpg


The rest of the descent was marked by amusement at my pal Ed's attempts to sledge down the hill and my own attempts not to break my ankle on the iced over lower, heathery slopes.

20121202 Drumochter Pass-1-32.jpg
Sledging


Finally we arrived back at the car park (not before a fun packed river crossing on icy stones) for a well earned cuppie, and the all-important task of putting fresh socks on. I believe the thermal socks i'd worn on the hills could probably have been sold to a small ex-Russian country as a weapon of mass destruction.

What have i learned from this?

Well, winter walking is perfectly accessible for a novice, when combined with a sensible head and the right equipment. It's also fantastically enjoyable. A big thanks to Magoo82 and my pal Ed for a most enjoyable day. I can't wait to get out again!
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jupe1407
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby Collaciotach » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:39 pm

Good stuff you cant beat the white with a bit of sun :D
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby Graeme D » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:43 pm

Geal Charn is a stunning viewpoint for Loch Ericht and the hills to the west and it looks like you got it at its best. :D
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby simon-b » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:16 pm

That looks a great day out with some stunning views. You're right about 5 am being the right time to be coming home on a Sunday, of course - after getting up at 5 am on Saturday, climbing a mountain or two, then going out on Saturday night. Ideal weekend!
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby jupe1407 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:23 pm

simon-b wrote:That looks a great day out with some stunning views. You're right about 5 am being the right time to be coming home on a Sunday, of course - after getting up at 5 am on Saturday, climbing a mountain or two, then going out on Saturday night. Ideal weekend!


Maybe when i was younger :lol:

However i think such an endeavour would probably kill me now!

It was a fantastic day for it. Clear, crisp air and no breeze whatsoever.
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby McLEOD » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:00 pm

Great stuff, your report has given me some more confidence when it comes to tackling these big hills in winter as I,m a relative newbie like yourself,
cheers :thumbup:
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby jupe1407 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:23 pm

McLEOD wrote:Great stuff, your report has given me some more confidence when it comes to tackling these big hills in winter as I,m a relative newbie like yourself,
cheers :thumbup:


Thanks!

Good luck on your upcoming climbs :D
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby dawnfoth » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:24 pm

Wowsers! Looks lovely with snow up there - these are quite uninteresting hills to be fair, but you have some fab pics! Well Done! Save your knees and take to your arse next time - sledging is way more fun :D
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby jupe1407 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:40 pm

dawnfoth wrote:Wowsers! Looks lovely with snow up there - these are quite uninteresting hills to be fair, but you have some fab pics! Well Done! Save your knees and take to your arse next time - sledging is way more fun :D


My pal was looking forward to sledging off A'Mharconaich for pretty much the whole day, with mixed results. He was a bit too close to the cornice on the steep part, and the rest of it was a bit rocky. He still tried to be fair!

I suspect these two maybe fall into the category of nothing special in the summer, but good in the winter. It was worth it for the views alone. I'm really hoping for a few similar days through winter to get out again.
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby foggieclimber » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:48 pm

I passed your glissade marks on the way down A'Mharconaich today :lol:
Good to see another set of photos from these hills today :)
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby jupe1407 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:01 am

foggieclimber wrote:I passed your glissade marks on the way down A'Mharconaich today :lol:
Good to see another set of photos from these hills today :)


Did you see the two marks near the start of the descent? I think he was a tad near the cornice :lol:
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby wilkiemurray » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:17 am

Great report and awesome pictures! :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

There then followed a fairly amusing (or terrifying) drive through a series of backroads to reach the A9


I too was out early yesterday morning, am glad you mentioned the terrifying part!! When I know that I am heading out early for a walk and the roads are well - shall we say - ICY- It always terrifys me - I am always glad to reach the start of the walk without any incidents!!! :crazy: :crazy: :crazy: :lol: :lol: :o :o
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby Hill-loving lady » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:25 am

Looks like u had every bit as good a day as we had on Sgairneach Mhor and Beinn Udlamein on Sunday 2nd of December....brilliant snow conditions, cracking views, frozen snot (!!!) lots of falling flat on the face, laughing so hard at the hilarious positions we all got into, and Bob the Border Collie managing to pee on 3 rucksacks and a hat!!!
:wink:
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:45 am

It was a cracking day for hillwalkers! I was just down the road, ticking off a couple of Corbetts (The Sow and Meall na Leitreach). The snow was so crispy and there was very little wind - may we have more days like that this winter :D :D

I did Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich in summer time, and must say they are rather boring hills, the best attraction are the views towards Ben Alder group. Winter trip definitely makes them a proper adventure :D
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Re: 5:00am - SERIOUSLY? Geal Charn & A'Mharconaich

Postby Alastair S » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:54 pm

5:00am? pah - I was up at 3:30 on Saturday to get to Beinn a'Ghlo for a pre-dawn start.

Nice report though - looks like you had a crackin' day (but not a crackin' ankle!)
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