The Good, The Great and The Gairich
by ScottishLeaf » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:07 pm
Route description: Gairich, Loch Quoich
Munros included on this walk: Gairich
Date walked: 21/01/2013
Time taken: 8 hours
Distance: 15 km
Ascent: 875m9 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The Munro Meanderers third meet of the year was a long time in being organised, but eventually we settled on Gairich. For a while, Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach across the loch were in the frame, but in the end Gairich won out. On paper wee Gairich might not seem like it's a great mountain. At 919m it's only 5m above munro height, it's slopes aren't that steep, it's lowest slopes are a muddy marsh and it has plenty of other hills that are bigger, tougher and higher nearby. It's almost a 4 hours drive from the central belt, even from Fort William it's a 90 minute haul, the last 10 miles or so down a narrow single track road. Few of them will match Gairich, against all the odds, it stands with the best of them all.
We parked at the laybys on either side of the Quoich Dam and were out walking minutes after 9am. The wind cutting right through us as we clambered over the padlocked gate onto the dam itself.
Gairich was already giving, standing like a giant pyramid, dwarving the 105m high dam.
At the other end of the glen, Ben Tee was doing it's best to compete and to be fair, it also looks a cracking hill from this distance.
From on the dam the sight was even better, the turquoise waters of cold Loch Quoich, to the pale blue sky and the white shrouded peak. Some say the tide marks around Loch Quoich are ugly scars, to my mind they look like beaches and against the turquoise water, it's Carribean-esque. Scotland at it's best.
After the dam the ground would be muddy rather than boggy and there is no option really, but to cross it. Thankfully on our cold January morning it was all frozen. Another present.
As we wandered on towards the plantation and the spot where we would leave the path and make off up the good track uphill, the sun caught Gairich's upper slopes, highlighting them in their brilliance.
The climb begins and although the path was icy, easy progress was made up the moderate slopes. The view ahead and to the right brings another, though quite different, mountain, Sgurr a'Mhaoraich into view.
A little higher and soon Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach are in view.
Higher still and soon Loch Quoich comes back into view and with the sun shining on Sgurr a'Mhaoraich a battle of titans was brewing to capture your attention. Everywhere you looked, simply stunning.
Back behind the patchy forest of Glen Kingie leads the eye down to the pointy peak of Ben Tee and Glen Garry
In good conditions, a shallow covering of snow on the ground and on such a great hill, everyone was in good spirits walking up the easy slopes.
But every once in a while someone would that funny spot, where just a little extra snow had gathered, providing more entertainment, as if it were neeeded!
The views to our left were now opening up as well, a group of wee hills, eventually leading up to the remote munro Sgurr Mor.
Eventually the easy slopes lead up the brow of the hill and little descent is required, before tackling the steep upper slopes.
We deviated off the path into a little sheltered spot and munched our lunch while drinking in the surroundings.
In the gap between Sgurr a'Mhaoraich and Gleouraich, the South Shiel Ridge was surprisingly clear.
After lunch we lost the route of the path as it lay buried beneath the snow and we ended up contouring a little too far round the hill. This left us a very steep climb upwards, a scramble of sorts over the steep grassy slopes.
We found a small flat bit and on went the crampons/microspikes and out came the ice axes. Eventually the slopes relented a little, just as the sun broke out over Glen Kingie.
We kept the spikes on our feet as they were giving excellent grip on the slippy, snow covered slopes. Back across Glen Kingie and behind some smaller hills. The munro Gulvain/Gaor Bheinn became visible.
Again the slopes eased off a little and we approached the scrambly bit, just before the summit.
This scramble can be avoided, by walking to your left and then up a steep wee gully. We went up the scramble and decended the gully. Care had to be taken at the top of the gully as a rather large cornice had formed.
From the top of the scramble/gully a false summit is reached, but it's only a matter of a few more metres before the real summit is gained.
The clag had closed in as we stood at the top, but I don't think any of us minded too much. Gairich had been great until now, then it teased us by being clag free soon after we left it. A little below the summit the view back down towards Quoich Dam was superb.
Over towards Gulvain, the sun was beginning to set.
It was off back down the hill, making a better job of following the path this time! In no time we were back onto the easy slopes and taking the crampons back off. While the others got ready, I played about with taking a few panoramas with my iPhone.
So it was back down the same track, over the icy bit and frozen mud to the Quoich Dam in the twilight, but well before dark.
What an area for hillwalking. Love it! Can't wait to go back
by quoman » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:35 pm
- the troops
- summit gang
by SAVAGEALICE » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:00 pm
i did this one last winter and the views from the top were stunning
..so you must go back! (..im sure you wont need your arm twisting! )
by kevsbald » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:21 pm
Fancy it from Kinbreak then doubling back to do the 'ridge' of Sgurr Fhuaran all the way to Garbh Cioch Mor.
by ceaser » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:26 pm
by pigeon » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:28 pm
by rocket-ron » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:21 pm
by Rottiewalker » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:58 pm
by Silverhill » Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:59 pm
Well done to all
by jonny616 » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:00 am
The MM squad.
The Coolest bunch of walkers in the highlands
- Reservoir Bogs
Or maybe not
by fipriestley » Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:36 am
- steep bit!
- some of us did the scramble down again too :D
- down climb
- 'man down!'... another one bites the dust (/snow?) :D
by scoob999 » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:46 am
A great day with Great company
I'll post a link to the video if it ever uploads
by MountainKaty » Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:21 pm
Looked like a fun day in the hills!
by Meatball » Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:30 pm
My favourite trip so far.
I will do this many times more!