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A Christmas jaunt

A Christmas jaunt

Postby NeepNeep » Fri Dec 30, 2016 2:52 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: 25/12/2015

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 10.2 km

Ascent: 760m

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Kids - who would have 'em? With a 6 month old now close to being independently mobile the last year has flown by. This report might be one year late its better late than never. I'm currently at the in-laws so have escaped for a little "me time" and thought the season was right to post this last Munro outing together for almost a year!! :(

Christmas last year was to be spent up North with Bean's parents. Family work shifts and whatnot meant we were to celebrate the day later in the week so we had a free day to use on the way North. It just so happened to be Christmas day.

Walking on Christmas day with no one around and having some usually very busy hills to ourselves sounded right up our street. Our route choice was moderate and more determined by our drive North and the desire to have at least a wee tipple in the afternoon. We settled for a route from the A93 just South of the Glen Shee pass.

The jaunt was a simple one that included two Munros. A walk earlier in the year in which the clag came down meant we had already summited Glas Maol but the high point along the SW ridge was still to be achieved. This was today's main objective.

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Quite predictably there was little traffic on the road and a good dusting of snow. We had set off from Glasgow at 05:30 with bags already packed including a couple of little festive extras. On arrival at the car park, the miserable task of leaving the cosy warm car with its comfort and shelter was delayed by 10mins to have a quick trackside breakfast. We were soon off up the hill.

On the way up.

The track made its way up onto the ridge and the effects of the last few days wind had left there mark. The rutted track was full of snow drifts and walking along the snow covered heather was the easiest option. It was evident from tracks already laid down by others that we were not alone.

Not the only ones today.

We made it onto the ridge proper and stripped off a few layers. The winds were relatively modest though the clouds were drifting somewhat so we hoped we would be lucky for the rest of the day on higher ground.

Morning conditions.

Our way ahead was relatively clear though the higher summits were drifting in and out of cloud. We hoped it wouldn't be another summit in the clag - we have enough of those photos already. The map showed an unnecessary intermediary peak so we took a direct route to the bealach across an easy angled slope. Part way across we spotted a ptarmigan in winter plumage which was a real treat. - our first. :D A prize to the first to spot it in the photo.

Route towards the first summit

The traverse

There is a ptarmigan there somewhere....honest

Once across the traverse we started on the summit slopes proper and made our way to the plateau directly. The cloud had lifted somewhat and we were allowed good views. We had last summited Glas Maol in thick clag and I remembered the plateau seeming quite large. It was the best part of 0.5Km across to the Trig point and wind break. Our festive wanderings were rewarded with a chance sighting of Father Christmas. He had obviously finished his rounds and was out enjoying a well earned break spending it in his favorite country meandering through the hills.

View North towards Braemar

Summit plateau

A pleasant surprise to meet HRH Father Christmas at/on the summit shelter.

On leaving the summit we met a few other walkers who had similar ideas of a short day in the hills prior to the gluttony of festivities. They approved of our Father Christmas hats and in particular my accidental festive appearance. One member of the party had wrapped tinsel around her rucksack and poles. We wished each other a Merry Christmas and headed off in a SW direction through intermittent mist. We were aiming for the broad ridge connection the summit plateau to Creag Leacach. There is little height loss and in actuality the second Munro is more of a high point along a long spur of a bigger massif. Nevertheless, the SMC has it listed and thus a traverse over its impressive terrain is now on all our walking route itineraries.

Leaving the summit

The continuation SW ridge

The ridge proper

After a few small ups and downs the way underfoot became a little more broken with boulders which were covered in verglas. Very slippy conditions.

Bean hoping the terrain doesn't deteriorate

Shortly we reached the summit and our last Munros of the year. In reality I squeezed in a solo trip up Mount Keen on mountain bike the day before the A93 and Ballater were hit by severe flooding. :shock:

Me, sorry, Father Christmas and Bean at the summit

The wind at this point had been steadily increasing in strength but rest assured, the Christmas hat remained firmly attached. We dropped a few contours in the direction we were heading before stopping for a refreshment. Hot Ribina and a sandwich did the job - washed down with a mince pie of course :D

Following the wall off

A hot cup of Ribena to warm the cockles

After warming up we headed over a smaller summit and continued down an easy angled slope towards the car. The gradient was pretty steady and we made pretty quick progress. The map indicated a little gorge towards the end of the route which we crossed quite high up and traversed across to the track on which we started our ascent. A quick plod down and we were back at the car and heading North for mulled wine, mince pies and Christmas games. :D

The lower slopes

Taking a rest on the way down

The final stretch

Hope you all had a good Christmas - both 2015 and 2016. :-D :thumbup:
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Re: A Christmas jaunt

Postby Bean » Tue Jan 03, 2017 9:20 pm

Fine memories!
Posts: 53
Munros:68   Corbetts:9
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