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Glorious Winter Walk to Geal Charn

Glorious Winter Walk to Geal Charn


Postby jupe1407 » Sun Feb 28, 2016 11:09 pm

Route description: Geal Charn, Monadhliath

Munros included on this walk: Geal Charn (Monadhliath)

Date walked: 26/02/2016

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 12.6 km

Ascent: 649m

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With an impending knee operation, I was slightly apprehensive about going out for another weekend's walking beforehand, however after a week of watching a forecast which promised clear skies, little or no wind and enough ground frost to negate the misery of hills which are usually dreadful bogfests, I took Friday off and headed up Newtonmore-way. I'd handed in my annual leave request at 4:55pm on Thursday :lol:

The usual early start, and leisurely drive up the A9 eventually brought me to Laggan Bridge and the quiet road out towards Garva Bridge, the start point for today's hill, Geal Charn, one of many in the area. This is usually done as a single as it's absolutely miles from the other Monadhliath hills on tedious, boggy and bleak terrain.

Conditions were perfect as i drove through the peaceful glen. A couple of miles up the road I stopped to let a few deer cross the road. They didn't seem bothered by human presence at all.

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Wildlife on the Drive In

Another couple of uneventful miles passed and I parked up at Garva Bridge. It was a crispy -6C here. I got ready fairly quickly and was soon on my way.

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Garva Bridge

The usual route crosses Garva Bridge then heading along a track on the right, before crossing another bridge then following a track to the left. I stayed on this for a bit longer than I should have, and realising my bleary-eyed error, cut across towards the river. Pleasingly, the low temperature had solidified the snow and it was great to walk on.

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Start of the riverside track

The track winds its way alongside the pleasant Feith Talagain, with a couple of nice wee waterfalls. At about the two mile mark the snow was much deeper and softer, and slightly less fun to bash through. Luckily a few others had been through in the preceding days, meaning there would thankfully be no need to trail break. I was thoroughly enjoying the walk though, everything covered in deep snow. It looked fantastic, though one can imagine that doing this hill in summer after anything other than a long dry spell could well be a spirit-crushing bog trot.

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Good progress on frozen snow

After negotiating a fence, it was a short stretch to the crossing of the Allt Coire nan Dearcag, which was made slightly more interesting with iced-over boulders.

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Ahead to Geal Charn, just before the stream crossing

After that it was onto the ascent, which on the lower slopes was fairly easy-angled. I followed the footprints along side the Allt for a while before cutting left. As i gradually climbed higher, the views got even better. It was a perfect winter day. Clear skies, snow and no wind 8)

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Ascending Geal Charn's lower slopes

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The way ahead...

After a short while, I reached what looked like a small snow-covered wind-sheltered cairn and had a quick bite to eat and enjoyed the fabulous views.

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Towards the Creag Meagaidh hills

After this, the gradient steepened a bit, which slowed things up a little. Still, who wants to rush on a day like this? I soon came upon an iced over rocky section, which annoyingly required the use and associated faff of getting crampons on, particularly entertaining when the flex bar refused to play ball and popped out a few times. I lost half an hour faffing around with this, which was quite annoying, but on the plus side, I got a rest out of it, and the remaining ascent with crampons finally sorted was a pleasure.

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Crampon time...

It was with a little relief that I emerged onto the summit plateau, and saw the summit cairn. It looked like almost a stones throw away, but of course the cairn is absolutely massive, and the stretch to reach it is around 700m :lol:

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That doesn't look too far. Oops.

However reach it i did, and used the break at the top to confirm my accommodation for the night (Strathspey Hostel in Newtonmore), eat the usual Mexicana Cheese/Rasperry Jam sandwich (seriously, it's brilliant) and put on a football coupon for the weekend. Eventually, sadly, I had to drag myself away and look forward to the return (they are always horrible prospects on linear walks). I had considered the return by Beinn Sgiath but didn't want to leave the comfort of the pre-broken trail :lol:

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Geal Charn summit

The descent was far from terrible though, after all, the views were still fabulous.

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Towards Kintail or possibly Mullardoch ranges

I decided I'd keep the crampons on until I got back to the stone shelter for another wee break. Somewhat annoyingly on literally the last few steps i caught my left leg with the right crampon, leaving a small hole, which would fill up with snow on the way back :lol: Probably should have worn gaiters really.

The descent was fine, if a little slower as my decision to wear only one pair of socks proved an epic fail, and there was less cushioning for my feet as they were battered by the soles of my winter boots. It was extremely warm in the sun snow, and I enjoyed the walk back along the riverside. Although the high sun has warmed the snow up a little and It wasn't quite as supportive :lol: Also stopped at this cracking wee spot:

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A nice spot by the Feith Talagain

After this, it was a wee plod through the softening snow back to the car, via a slightly more direct route. I also found a cool frozen little waterfall

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And a last look back at Geal Charn, with a nice shaft of light falling across it's upper slopes

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Met the only other walker of the day just before the first return bridge, who was nipping up to catch last light off the upper slopes, with a hugely energetic dog.

This was a great day, far better I suspect that it would have been in summer. The forecast for the rest of the weekend was even better, and on Saturday i'd be repeating the West Drumochter 4. Another set of less than exciting summer, but brilliant winter hills.


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jupe1407
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1332
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Location: Forfar

Re: Glorious Winter Walk to Geal Charn

Postby Collaciotach » Mon Feb 29, 2016 12:06 am

A nó bad wee hill in those conditions :clap: :clap: :D
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Collaciotach
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Posts: 1784
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Location: Gaidhealtachd an Iar

Re: Glorious Winter Walk to Geal Charn

Postby jupe1407 » Mon Feb 29, 2016 12:22 am

Collaciotach wrote:A nó bad wee hill in those conditions :clap: :clap: :D


Aye, definitely one for the winter :lol:
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jupe1407
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1332
Munros:234   Corbetts:20
Grahams:6   
Sub 2000:4   
Islands:1
Joined: May 15, 2012
Location: Forfar

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