No S-Maol Undertaking! Hill Four-apy at Glen Shee
by ScottishLeaf » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:03 pm
Route description: Glas Maol Munros circuit, Cairnwell Pass
Munros included on this walk: Cairn of Claise, Carn an Tuirc, Creag Leacach, Glas Maol
Date walked: 28/04/2013
Time taken: 7.5 hours
Distance: 19 km
Ascent: 1020m2 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).
A bereavement, news that I was to become an uncle, winning £51 on the lottery and a close relative's hospitalisation just typified my March and April.
So when finally a "normal" weekend day became free I jumped at the chance to get out... too long my blue balloon count had been stuck at 48!!
Time to get out and bag at least a pair and that elusive 50th munro.I needed somewhere relatively straight forward to break me back in on my search for my Hillwalking Therapy.
I had contemplated The Wee Bookil, Beinns Eunaich and a'Chochuill, but then I thought of the Glas Maol 4. Why settle for hitting 50? Let's blast through the landmark and like all good Jambos, I know 5-1 is the one that really matters anyway!!!
So I searched through a couple of different route plans and came up with a hybrid of the route on WH and on Steven Fallon's site. Instead of parking down by the old Devil's Elbow, I parked up by the big mast in the first car park on the ski resort, just beyond the Aberdeenshire - Perth & Kinross boundary; right below The Cairnwell.
The plan was to assault Meall Odhar first, using the good track built by the ski centre, then cut across Glas Maol's lower slopes and out to Creag Leacach, double back and claim Glas Maol itself, then meander ever northwards to Cairn of Claise and Cairn na Turic, then down off the hills through the Glen of Allt Garbh-Choire. This would mean far less road walking along the A93 on the way back to the motor.
A good track near a big mast, leaves the parking area steeply up Meall Odhar's lower slopes, before descending into a depression where Odhar cafe and a whole of host of skiing stuff is located.
Soon Meall Odhar's summit is gained and it's marked with a cairn and ski tow pylon! Even from this wee hill, Carn Aosda on the other side of the road doesn't look like a munro.
Looking to the south the two summits of Creag Leacach catch the eye and there are decent views down towards Spittal of Glen Shee.
The weather was rolling in on waves, rain, then hail, then snow, then sunshine, but always with a blustery wind.... It was just going to be a typical Scottish day then! After Meall Odhar another slight descent and it was time to think about contouring round Glas Maol, to gain the ridge out to Creag Leacach. Just one small problem, well one rather large one actually. A whopping cornice right across the planned route. Plan B meant gaining more height up Glas Maol than I would have like, but at least the snow had had the courtesy of melting away from the path here! The photo below shows the cornice on the right and the alternative route I took on the left up the melted "triangle."
Short, sharp, steep section took me right onto the edge of the Glas Maol plateau and is approximately the three-way boundary of Aberdeenshire, Perthshire and Angus!
So just when you've ventured away from your planned route, queue the clag, just to make matters that little bit harder! Thankfully it wasn't a full on whiteout type fog, but I got out the GPS, compass and map just to check. I had walked a little further than necessary but was still on course for the ridge out to Creag Leacach. As I descended down onto the ridge, the mist lifted again and I quickly saw the county boundary wall that runs along the top of the ridge. Which side to walk on?? Angus or Perthshire? It doesn't really matter, but the wall is closer to the edge on the Angus side With patchy snow still on the ground I chose Perthshire just to be safe.
The going becomes increasingly rocky as the ridge crests a bump, then climbs up to Creag Leacach's summit. The last bit was a wee bit was tricky as there was icy snow lying on top of the scree.
I hadn't seen a sole until I started climbing the last 20m of Creag Leacach, when two walkers passed me just leaving the summit... with a cheery "The top's over there!" lol Talk about stating the obvious!!!
As I was to find out, Creag Leacach is by far the finest of the hills on this round of 4... time for WH to rename it the Creag Leacach Circuit!! I stopped for a quick drink of lucozade, but didn't hang about too long, the wind was biting and the clouds were obsuring most of the view... only The Cairnwell and a pointy hill off to the east were really visible (Monamenach?)
So it was back the way I had came, until I reached the plateau of Glas Maol again, where I took a beeline across the flat ground to the trig point and big snow filled shelter.
MUNRO NUMBER 50 IN THE BAG!
The wind was really blasting in, the cloud had descended and the hail was like mini-bullets, but I was happy! There was not much to see, until 3 human shapes loomed out of the gloom, an older guy quickly followed by a younger couple.... who kindly agreed to take my picture
I sat on the edge of the shelter and as I did so, the cloud lifted a bit, but there was still not much to see, the hill is just too bulky to allow extensive views. So after a quick sandwich, I bid farewell to the three others and set off for Cairn of Claise.
The lifting of the cloud was only temporary and soon the cloud was back, but higher this time, so I could see. The cloud brought a different enemy this time... hail. Wee ice rockets blasting into my face... wonderful! Mask time. I found a big broad track that winds it's way round the edge of the plateau, the Monega Road.
It would've been more direct to cut straight across the plateau but, with the snow ever deepening, I knew the road wouldn't lead me into any nasty boggy surprises, so I followed it's wide arc right round to the rocky ridge below Cairn of Claise. Nevermind Cairn's Claise, mine were ringing and I had waterproofs on! So I was eternally grateful when the hail and rain stopped and the sun came out to play!! The traverse of the plateau had really ground on my spirits, so it was nice to see the countryside open up again, with crags on the northern side of Glas Maol looking quite spectacular, given the rather dull plateau landscape elsewhere.
I found an nice set of rocks, that made a convienient armchair. It was too inviting not to sit down. Other than a brief 5 mins at both summits, I hadn't really stopped all day, so with the rain off and the sun out, I enjoyed the rest of my tea, sitting looking up at Cairn of Claise and out to Tolmount and Tom Buidhe. The 'back 3' of the Lochnagar 5 were also visible, if rather undistinguished from here as well.
The views to the western horizon opened up as well, the bigger Cairngorms, coming into view over the top of The Cairnwell and Carn Aosda, but it just all appeared as a jumble of indistiguishable peaks from here.
Once on the move again, I quickly rounded the top of Garbh-Choire, the wind was fierce, blowing up the headwall. I put the head down and made for the summit of Cairn of Claise. Here I came upon a squadron of people, but they left just as I arrived, making for Tolmount or Tom Buidhe. So no 5-1 photo
It was here, I had perhaps my best view of the day, looking back to Glas Maol, over the end of Garbh-Choire, with a big cornice hanging off it's headwall.
Again, I didn't hang about, just gently making straight down hill, over an awkward snow field to the bealach between Cairn of Claise and Cain an Tuirc. WH describes this area as "truely featureless." However, I had great views over to Lochnagar, Cac Carn Beag, standing like a beacon. Carn a' Choire Bhoideach looking like a rounded lump over just beyond the impressive cliffs of The Stuic. Even Mount Keen could be seen away in the distance. In the other direction there was yet another hanging cornice in the Cul Riabhach, with Glas Maol in the distance.
With not too much effort from the bealach, the stoney summit of Cairn anTuirc was reached and it revealed what the bulk of the hill had been hiding from me...more dark grey cloud coming screaming inbound at a rate of knots... time to get down!
The western side of the hill is rocky, then heathery, but most of it was buried beneath a thick blanket of snow and I didn't pick up any footprints or see any trace of a path, so gingerly at first and then with more confidence I zig-zag my way down the steep snowfield, aiming for what I thought was a path down in the glen below.
While I descended the wind was trying to blast me back into the hill, driving the hail straight at me. It wasn't pleasant. So it was with a bit of relief when I was down off the hill proper. Looking back up the hill had disappeared and I was standing at the base of the thing!
What I had thought was the path may have been A path, but it wasn't THE path. I could however see THE path glinting in the light a bit further down the glen. So I ended up heather bashing, before finally finding a route over wet, snow flattened grass before finally joining up with main path near the crossing with a fairly substantial side stream.
The weather was changing by the minute, so I'm glad to say that before I had left the area, Cairn an Tuirc did reappear and that no hills were stolen in the efforts made in order to write this report!
The final slog back up the side of the A93 was made in all kinds of weather, just like the rest of the day. Snow, hail, rain, sunshine, wind, you name it... so I was even happier that I had parked at the ski centre and not all the way back down the hill to Devil's Elbow. As I walked by Carn Aosda, a posse of sports cars all charged past me on their way towards Braemar. I did get to laugh at a guy who driving an Aerial Atom.... he looked wetter than me!
So all in all a totally mixed day weather and view wise; but the Hill Therapy definately worked and I was well chuffed to have gotten round all 4 and finally bagged number 50 after so long off.
Bring on next weekend!
by dooterbang » Wed May 01, 2013 2:13 pm
Not long till your in treble figures/
by quoman » Wed May 01, 2013 5:01 pm
by ceaser » Wed May 01, 2013 6:02 pm
by gammy leg walker » Wed May 01, 2013 6:47 pm
by mrssanta » Wed May 01, 2013 6:59 pm
by weaselmaster » Wed May 01, 2013 9:01 pm
Really timely report for me - i'm planning to go up there tomorrow and it's helpful to see the snow conditions.
I'm thinking about trying to do these 4 and the 3 cairnwell ones as well while i'm up there - we'll see if i can make my body do what my mind asks
by neurone » Thu May 02, 2013 9:28 am
by The Rodmiester » Thu May 02, 2013 9:48 am
by Tomsie » Thu May 02, 2013 8:57 pm
by ScottishLeaf » Fri May 03, 2013 10:04 pm
I think if I had seen that SAIS report before I went, I may have opted for one of the other destinations!!
by jonny616 » Mon May 06, 2013 8:45 am
by laconic surf » Mon May 06, 2013 8:56 am