walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Monadhliath Overnighter

Monadhliath Overnighter


Postby weaselmaster » Mon Mar 11, 2013 9:49 pm

Munros included on this walk: A' Chailleach (Monadhliath), Carn Dearg (Monadhliath), Carn Sgulain, Geal Charn (Monadhliath)

Date walked: 09/03/2013

Time taken: 16 hours

Distance: 41 km

Ascent: 1632m

8 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).

This weekend was scheduled as a bit of rehearsal and preparation for our outing to Ben Alder at the end of the month which is hopefully going to involve 3 or 4 nights away. So we needed to find out a few things - could we walk for a full day with full overnight kit; could we manage to winter camp without the security of the car being beside the tent and; could we walk for a second day after said winter camping :think:

Casting around for a suitable location taking the weather forecast into consideration, the Monadhliath hills seemed worth a punt - do the 3 hills on Saturday, camp somewhere then drive over to Geal Charn on the Sunday. It was going to be a cold night, which would be a bit more realistic than the initial trial camp out we had 3 or 4 weeks ago in the balmy surroundings of a layby beside Meal Ghaordiadh :roll: Arrived at the car parking area at Glen Banchor at about 7.45 - hills looked swathed in cloud but at least it was dry.

Image
P1010091 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Lots of friendly notices painted onto gates like *No Camping* and *No Dogs* - well - Finn was confined to base as being unsuitable to join the tenting fraternity on account of dog claws and tent bases don't mix (let alone the lack of room inside) and we were not going to allow a painted sign to get in the way of pitching in the great outdoors, though we would have a bit of thought where we'd put up. All that lay ahead of us as we pulled on the heaviest sacks we had tried walking with yet - mine was over 20Kg - and set off to do the hills in an anticlockwise direction - wisely (if entirely fortuitously) chosen as there was a pretty strong wind blowing from the East, and there's a long exposed plateau going East - West - I would not have liked to be going over that into a headwind on such a chilly day :oops:
Image
P1010093 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010094 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The initial section along Allt a Chaorainn was mostly boggy amongst the heather, with the temperature not having fallen far enough to make the bog freeze. It's an easy paced gentle pull up the hill without any steep bits.
Image
P1010095 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Image
P1010096 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We passed the tin hut, saw that the top of the hill was going to be smothered in clag and turned to the R, following footprints in the snow til we reached the impressive cairn. Views - there were none :(

Image
P1010098 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Heading NW down a rather steeper slope towards Carn Sgulain we watched numerous snow hares, some having shed their winter white already - racing and gamboling about. Fantastic animals! One of them scooted down the slope and up onto Sgulain skirting under a cornice - would be quite something to be able to cover hill terrain at that speed!
Image
P1010104 by 23weasels, on Flickr

As we headed towards the valley of Allt Cuil na Caillich the snow was frozen harder and I felt it best to slip the crampons on. Off with my outer glove and *off* the wind took it, whizzing over the snowdunes. After putting the crampons on I did go after it but nowhere to be seen, unsurprisingly. Fortunately this wasn't a Maurice Herzog moment as I had a spare pair in the sack, but I would not have fancied going over the plateau on a day like this with only liner gloves on. Lesson - when it's windy, things blow away :oops:

Without further ado we walked the short distance to the top of Carn Sgulain, surveying its stone strewn landscape and being rewarded with a clearing of the clouds and some views.
Image
P1010108 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010109 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010112 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010114 by 23weasels, on Flickr
A bite to eat was had before setting off over the plateau, following the very helpful line of fenceposts, which some enterprising ski-ers had been using as slalom practice. The plateau sits around the 900m mark for its entire length and I can imagine it being a fairly hostile and unforgiving environment - wouldn't fancy trying to pitch a tent up here with sizeable winds.
Image
P1010119 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010121 by 23weasels, on Flickr


Eventually Carn Dearg came into view - impressive ridge profile with a considerable bit of cornice built up along and the tiny black speck of the cairn evident against the gunmetal sky.
Image
P1010126 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010131 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Although it looked quite challenging from this angle, by the time we had got to Carn Ban we could see there was a broad line up the shoulder of the hill and we wouldn't have to venture anywhere near the egde. Did seem like another spot for crampons however.
Image
P1010133 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010136 by 23weasels, on Flickr
We trudged slowly up to the summit and had some great views over the side - the cairn is rather near the edge, especially when you can't really see where the actual rocky edge is under the snow...

Image
P1010138 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010142(1) by 23weasels, on Flickr

Because it was so nice a day now we decided to walk along the ridge to the second cairn at 923m. Had considered carrying on over to Carn Macoul, but it looked steep down from there on the map, and I didn't want to get lost with rivers to cross on the walk back in, so we retraced our steps and contoured Carn Dearg, having a good view of Loch Dubh as we did so, which with a frozen white lid was not looking very Dubh at all.

Image
P1010148 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Image
P1010147 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Around this time Allison found out what happens when your crampons tackle on another and fell smartly onto her nose, kissing the snow and sustaining superficial but bloody damage :shock: Fortunately no bones or teeth were dislodged and we headed down to Gleann Ballach. This was a tiring part of the journey - the path was difficult to keep in sight due to the heather and the snow, the snow itself was patchy and prone to letting you plunge through it into the boggy water beneath - all in all slow going. Once we'd rounded Meall na Ceardaich the quality of the path improved considerably and we made the footbridge onto the track proper with a sense of relief.
Image
P1010153 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010157 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Now all that remained was to find a place to pitch for the night. It was getting on for about 5 by this time. We had intially planned to camp in or near the trees near the abandoned buildings at Glenbanchor itself, but I quite fancied being somewhere further out, so we pitched just below the track on some flat ground beside the Allt Fionndrigh, across from Creag na h-lolare. A few molehills marked the grass, and we giggled at the thought of a moley visitor emerging through the tent floor during the night. Anyway, pitched smoothly, got the grub on (Food Doctor lentil & couscous pots)and settled in for a bit of reading by headtorch. About 9pm we were startled by a brief burst of strobe like white light - no idea what that was, but the stars were very beautiful in the clear sky when I poked my head out of the tent to see if we were under attack. It did get colder during the night and when I went to get water from the river for the morning porridge, I watched a surface layer of ice form on top of the water in the kettle in a matter of seconds before I put it onto the burner. Brrrr. Certainly not a morning for plunging your arms into the river to waken yourself up :crazy: Another lesson - don't take golden syrup for your porridge as it turns into tar and won't come out of the container - use brown sugar next time :)
Image
P1010159 by 23weasels, on Flickr

After packing everything up again and being grateful that there had been no rain (just a small amount of hailstones) during the night we walked the 4km back to the car on a glorious sunny morning. We were surrounded by fantastic views of the hills against heather and forest, one of the best morning sights I have had in ages.
Image
P1010160 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010162 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010163 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010165 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010167 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Plan was to strick in the same area and drive over to Garva Bridge and climb Geal Charn. The road was quiet and the scenery immense and we were the first car to park at the bridge. Further up the road from the bridge we could see various construction traffic - windfarm stuff maybe? There was a huge pile of stones that I initially took for some crazy neolithic-style dwelling, but no, it was a pile of stones :roll:
Image
P1010168 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Image
P1010169 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Despite the wonders of GPS, I managed to rather carelessly lead us off on the wrong path to start with so that we were on the wrong side of the river and required to cross it further along, when the reality of my error became apparent. Rocks were slippy with ice, and it would not have been a good start to the day to have an icy plunge. We also managed to not quite find the path once we were on the right sider of the river and had much huffing and puffing amongst the heather until we finally did. Then we managed to miss the post that suggests where to cross the stream and once again had a slightly more difficult crossing higher up :roll: :roll: I blame lack of sleep and brain freeze :crazy:
Image
P1010194 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Image
P1010175 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010180 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010181 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010182 by 23weasels, on Flickr
By this time it was pretty hard to go wrong as the snow capped rounded top of Geal Charn lay before us.
Image
P1010172 by 23weasels, on Flickr
The path was mostly over heather and some patches of new snow, with odd bits of slidy ice underfoot at times. The views all around were wonderful - I am really coming to love these softer curvier hills up in this part of the world - especially with their sense of remoteness - as far as I could see there were hills and little sign of civilisation - the odd forest plot, but no human sounds, no vapour trails of planes to mar the blue sky.
Image
P1010176_Panorama by 23weasels, on Flickr
Reaching the brow of the hill there was still about half a kilometre to walk before the summit was reached, over hard frozen snow. Met another three walkers when we were at the top, having a quick bite before heading back down.
Image
P1010189 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010191 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010190 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010192 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sun was still out but we could see that snow or cloud was coming down on all of the surrounding hills - it seemed that we were at the centre of a clear area of weather and golden sunlight. There were odd flurries of snow and hail as we descended towards the car, following the path properly this time round, which made the going considerably easier.
Image
P1010196 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1010197 by 23weasels, on Flickr
By the time we got back to the car the sky had closed in and it was snowing quite heavily, but there was no problem with the road and we quickly emerged back into sunshine. Heading down the A9 we had some marvelous views of the Drumochter 4 before the clouds came down and the snow came on for real.

A great couple of days which left us feeling much more optimistic about being able to do 3 or 4 days at a time (as long as it doesn't rain solidly for them that is!) And I think that winter camping overnight is great :crazy: :crazy: :crazy:
User avatar
weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1744
Munros:205   Corbetts:188
Grahams:65   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:175   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby LeithySuburbs » Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:28 pm

Cracking report and nice looking campspot :D . I lost a crampon bag on Binnien Mor in the wind - it's funny how it makes light objects blow away... who'd have guessed :? ?
User avatar
LeithySuburbs
Ambler
 
Posts: 1922
Munros:253   Corbetts:50
Grahams:26   Donalds:33
Sub 2000:40   Hewitts:14
Wainwrights:23   
Joined: Feb 19, 2009
Location: The Capital

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby Johnny Corbett » Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:33 pm

Great stuff master, your second day looked superb. I've still to carry a full pack round a walk, the best i've done is walks or cycles into bothies. Hopefully do it one day though. :D
User avatar
Johnny Corbett
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 2936
Munros:18   Corbetts:206
Grahams:160   Donalds:74
Sub 2000:269   Hewitts:1
Joined: May 14, 2010
Location: Livingston

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby McLEOD » Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:08 pm

Great report weasle, enjoyed that :)
McLEOD
Wanderer
 
Posts: 87
Joined: Oct 14, 2012

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:46 pm

Johnny Corbett wrote:Great stuff master, your second day looked superb. I've still to carry a full pack round a walk, the best i've done is walks or cycles into bothies. Hopefully do it one day though. :D


I've not yet tried the world of bothies or indeed cycling into mountain routes, but guess will break that duck sometime soon.
Second day was great weatherwise and was a real pleasure to get out of the tent into brilliant sunshine - whether I'd have felt as positive if it had been pouring all night and it was a dreich claggy morning, I can't say :lol:
User avatar
weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1744
Munros:205   Corbetts:188
Grahams:65   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:175   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby Graeme D » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:56 pm

Wow! I enjoyed that. That Carn Dearg certainly takes a good cornice!
User avatar
Graeme D
 
Posts: 3430
Munros:215   Corbetts:102
Grahams:64   Donalds:22
Sub 2000:56   Hewitts:36
Wainwrights:27   Islands:6
Joined: Oct 17, 2008
Location: Perth

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby rockhopper » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:08 am

another good trip and great second day - well done :thumbup: .....but a 20kg pack, couldn't see me carrying that sort of weight for an overnighter :wink: - cheers :)
User avatar
rockhopper
 
Posts: 6264
Munros:282   Corbetts:187
Grahams:59   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:8   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: Jun 1, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby Bod » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:53 am

Well done! Great trip there and brave stuff camping out there last weekend. We were up Carn Dearg on Sunday so must have just missed bumping into you :wink: :D :clap:
User avatar
Bod
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 1510
Munros:282   Corbetts:47
Grahams:27   Donalds:20
Sub 2000:28   Hewitts:9
Wainwrights:7   Islands:24
Joined: Jul 30, 2010
Location: Cowdenbeath

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby Mountainlove » Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:42 am

Well done to you! That sounded like a fantastic day!! Brave for going camping and carrying all the gear around with you! :clap: :clap:
User avatar
Mountainlove
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 1197
Munros:50   Corbetts:23
Grahams:7   Donalds:8
Sub 2000:2   
Islands:9
Joined: Feb 2, 2010
Location: North Ayrshire

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby SAVAGEALICE » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:31 am

really enjoyed your report :clap: :D you must be hardy folk ..camping in winter! :clap:
User avatar
SAVAGEALICE
 
Posts: 614
Munros:282   Corbetts:174
Grahams:56   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:45   Hewitts:23
Wainwrights:33   Islands:21
Joined: Aug 26, 2008
Location: Alness, Ross-shire

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby malky_c » Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:18 am

You didn't half pick a cold and breezy weekend to try wildcamping! Sunday morning in particular must've been -8 at best up there.

Enjoyable report, and well worth it just for the Sunday morning photos of Glen Banchor :)

The construction work in the area is for the Beauly-Denny powerline upgrade.
User avatar
malky_c
 
Posts: 5804
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:74
Sub 2000:250   Hewitts:256
Wainwrights:102   Islands:33
Joined: Nov 22, 2009
Location: Inverness

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:23 pm

malky_c wrote:You didn't half pick a cold and breezy weekend to try wildcamping! Sunday morning in particular must've been -8 at best up there.

Enjoyable report, and well worth it just for the Sunday morning photos of Glen Banchor :)

The construction work in the area is for the Beauly-Denny powerline upgrade.


Yeah it was pretty chilly! But hasn't put me off planning the same again up Creag Meagaidh for this weekend :crazy:
Thanks for clarifying what the construction works were for :)
User avatar
weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1744
Munros:205   Corbetts:188
Grahams:65   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:175   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby fipriestley » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:23 pm

Brilliant! :thumbup: Great photos too; day 2 looked stunning 8)
User avatar
fipriestley
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 370
Munros:282   Corbetts:77
Grahams:7   Donalds:4
Sub 2000:5   Hewitts:7
Wainwrights:3   
Joined: Sep 10, 2011
Location: Birnam/Dunkeld

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby whiteburn » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:29 pm

weaselmaster wrote:.... we pulled on the heaviest sacks we had tried walking with yet - mine was over 20Kg - and set off ..........


20kg for an overnighter :( :roll:
Before going out again the you need to chuck out all of the stuff you carried that you didn't need!
whiteburn
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 314
Joined: Jan 6, 2012
Location: Aberdeenshire

Re: Monadhliath Overnighter

Postby weaselmaster » Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:18 pm

whiteburn wrote:
weaselmaster wrote:.... we pulled on the heaviest sacks we had tried walking with yet - mine was over 20Kg - and set off ..........


20kg for an overnighter :( :roll:
Before going out again the you need to chuck out all of the stuff you carried that you didn't need!


Well, it was partly to see if I could carry the stuff I'd reckoned on needing for a 4 overnighter later this month and partly because I'm never quite sure how much stuff to bring from a safety point of view in the winter - did take an emergency shelter & shovel - didn't use them, likewise the first aid kit. Could've managed without crampons too, but wouldn't have liked them to be in the car if the snow was any icier... Didn't need to bring that bottle of Highland Park either :lol: (I didn't really, but would have used it if I had!)
User avatar
weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1744
Munros:205   Corbetts:188
Grahams:65   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:175   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

8 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).
Next



Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online