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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.

Creag Leacach (29-Dec-2009)

Creag Leacach (29-Dec-2009)


Postby Alastair S » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:15 pm

Munros included on this walk: Creag Leacach

Date walked: 29/12/2009

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 7 km

Ascent: 527m

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Creag Leacach (actual).gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


A walk was called for to blow away the Xmas excesses, but I got more than I bargained for :o

All the recent snow called for somewhere with easy access so it was back to the Cairnwell Pass to tackle my only outstanding Munro in that area: Creag Leacach. Forecast looked reasonable if cold. So was up & on the road before 8:00 and the car was reading -6°C. By Aboyne it was -9°, by Ballater -14°. I was getting concerned. It reached -18° in Braemar [my car thermo wasn’t misleading me, the Met Office had Braemar as -18° too – the coldest (recorded) place in Britain for the day]. It crept up to -14° climbing up to the ski centre. I was hoping to start from the car park below the Devil’s Elbow if it was clear and thankfully a plough had been through so I was to park up without a problem.

P1060284.jpg

I as steeped out to clear dawn a gentle breeze was blowing so it didn’t feel too cold – just like steeping into a freezer. So on with boots & gaiters, a snap of my intended route and off for a session of post-holing. The first problem was crossing the stream, sorry, burn. The 25,000 OS map shows a footbridge across, but all that is left are 2 rotting planks. With the snow covering the ice much poking about with walking pole ensured, till I was able to find somewhere safe 15 min later.

As expected going was very slow, with the snow being between calf and knee deep. There were occasionally signs of someone having been this was that day before, but they were of no benefit for me. The route involved heading for the col between Meal Gorm and the south summit of Creag Leacach – which meant another 15min searching for a crossing point of the burn that joins the first I crossed. I wasn’t cold and was soon perspiring climbing up the north face of Meal Gorm. Snow depth gradually lessened as I climbed (avalanche level was considerable on south aspects) and wind speed increased. The col reached I swapped the walking pole for ice axe. The snow was now sometimes firm enough to walk on – or just enough for you to relax a bit and then fall through again. At least you didn’t fall so far when you did. Although there was the odd icy patch crampons weren’t called for. The southern slopes were now in view and scouring was evident.

P1060292.jpg
Looking south from southern summit

By the time the southern summit was reached (943m) the gentle breeze was now a fresh to strong breeze (20-30 mph) and the wind chill was fierce – probably around -20°. Time for another layer now most of the steep climbing was behind me. I had a fair amount of new kit on and I have to say the Marino wool base layer (mine was from Helly Hansen) was working a treat as I was still following the classic 3-layer approach. The eVent jacket (Montane) was nicely lined with ice as I took it off to add another fleece.

P1060294.jpg
Looking north form southern summit at Cairnwell Pass & A93

Snaps taken it was off to Creag Leacach itself – into the teeth of the northerly. It didn’t take long but by the time I got there my face was going numb as the wind picked up icy snow to blast into my flesh. I didn’t have ski goggles at the time (a trip to Braemar Mountain Sports on the way home has rectified that) and my eyes stung for 2 days afterwards.

P1060298.jpg
Looking towards Glas Maol (obscured) form Creag Leacach summit

P1060299.jpg
View south from Creag Leacach summit

It was now nearing 1pm (having set off just before 9am) and with what looked like a blizzard descending on Glas Maol, my next intended port of call – I had originally even thought of going over to Monega Hill to look down Caenlochan Glen where the River Isla rises – I decided that was enough for me. Meet a couple of other parties back on the southern summit and had time to take in Meall Gorm on the way back.

P1060316.jpg
A93 from Meall Gorm
Last edited by Alastair S on Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Alastair S
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Re: Creag Leacach (29-Dec-2009)

Postby malky_c » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:44 pm

I love that last photo of the Glen Shee road. Idon't think I would've dared to drive anywhere that high with those temperatures for fear of ice on the roads. That photo shows it to be remarkably clear though.
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Re: Creag Leacach (29-Dec-2009)

Postby Paul Webster » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:33 pm

Good report. Agree about the last photo - almost looks like a photoshop with a black line sketched down it :shock:
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Re: Creag Leacach (29-Dec-2009)

Postby Milesy » Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:59 pm

The ploughing on that road is excellent work! Maybe my local council can take some training from them on how to handle snow.

I cant believe how rocky the hill looks compared to the alien landscape I was going through on friday! I can even see the wall in your pictures :lol:
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Re: Creag Leacach (29-Dec-2009)

Postby Alastair S » Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:37 am

malky_c wrote:I love that last photo of the Glen Shee road. Idon't think I would've dared to drive anywhere that high with those temperatures for fear of ice on the roads. That photo shows it to be remarkably clear though.

I wasn't worried about ice on the road as the temperature never got above zero here since the snow first fell around here - and the council does do a good job on the main roads - so no melt water to freeze. Was a lot different when I tried to get to [the much lower] Loch Muick last week - had several hairy moments and still didn't get there as the plough gave up with 2 miles to go.

Paul Webster wrote:Good report. Agree about the last photo - almost looks like a photoshop with a black line sketched down it :shock:

If only I knew how to use photoshop like that - had Elements for over a year now & still don't really know what I'm doing. Recently got a book to set me right - I just have to read it now...

Milesy wrote:I cant believe how rocky the hill looks compared to the alien landscape I was going through on friday! I can even see the wall in your pictures :lol:

Yes, the tops were fine then. There have been frequent dumps up there that have by-passed the rest of the country.
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