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Gairich(nearly) & Geal Charn (Monadh Liath)

Gairich(nearly) & Geal Charn (Monadh Liath)


Postby mountain coward » Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:05 am

Munros included on this walk: Gairich, Geal Charn (Monadhliath)

Date walked: 02/01/2011

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Over the first weekend of the ‘half-term’ week I joined my University Club’s meet at Roybridge. Walking-wise, it didn't go well really due to the sudden change in conditions. I was really annoyed Thursday night before I set off as, after 3 months of perfect frozen weather, it suddenly decided to thaw and so I knew conditions would be awful with the amount of snow around. I realised I would have no chance of doing the 4 Munros together above Newtonmore (A' Chailleach etc.) as planned in those conditions. I drove down to the Markie Burn to sound out Geal Charn (Monadhliath) on my way to Roybridge and talked to a guy who'd just done it. He said conditions were awful - really porridgy and deep snow and he said it had taken them 5 hours. So on the Saturday I decided to go with the others who had decided to do Gairich. I almost never go up anything I haven't studied in great detail - and I was made to regret that...

We drove down Loch Quoich to the dam, sloshed across the really soaking moorland in the melting snow and up the really soaking ridge by which time my feet were starting to get wet. The summit was mostly in mist but the look I'd had of it at the dam make me very worried indeed as I thought it looked far too steep for me up the final pull. Anyway, as we got nearly to the steep bit, it suddenly came out of the mist. I was horrified it was so steep and craggy and didn't really think I'd make it. We started off up the really steep bit with me in the middle of the long line of 8 of us. I was pretty hesitant and kept looking back down as we seemed to more or less be ascending vertically and the snow was sometimes breaking away - very offputting. Anyway, fairly soon there was a craglet and I hoped the party would go to the right keeping us above the ridgeline. But no, they went left putting us above the craggy and steep mountainside which went all the way down to the valley at that point. I was less happy... Then they decided to traverse across a narrow snowy ledge on the crag as there wasn't really any way up to the left that we could see... at that point I decided I was going back down! I have to say that around half the party followed me!

My feet got even wetter to the point where I decided to try for a different route back across the moorland and took what looked like a good track which went to the lake as the lake shore had looked okay from above. I should know better really... Also, people always follow me and a guy out of our group and another group decided to follow me. Of course, the path to the lake shore was horrendously wet - many times it was completely under water. When you got to the lake shore, there was no real way of walking along it as, instead of being like a stony beach, it was big rocks - all nice and greasy in the damp. Also, it was quite a lot further back to the dam that way (which I knew beforehand but thought conditions would be drier) and the whole route was just awful wet moorland with no path. I could feel everyone silently blaming me for everything!

There was a guy in a boat mooching around and he came over to where we were walking and waited for us to get to near the shoreline. I was really hoping he'd be a good samaritan and offer us a lift but no. All he did was say 'You've gone the wrong way' - to which I replied I realised we had but it was too late to change it - and then he drove off back to the dam. I was pretty annoyed with him gloating at us - git! Also, the guy from our group who'd followed me was pretty new to walking and not used to the rough stuff so he was always losing a boot in the mud or having some other disaster so I had to keep waiting, when all I wanted to do was get back and get out of my wet boots! :( Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have minded the wet feet if I'd got the Munro but failing my objective and having cold, wet feet - ugh!

So that was one wasted day... I now have to go again in summer as that final climb is far too steep for me in winter with my lack of experience and my nerves. I think I would even find it steep on grass…

The next day I decided I didn't want to do anything as it was still awful conditions and a horrible day so I decided to walk up Glen Roy which I've never seen but have heard many times about the parallel roads. I set off walking only to be picked up immediately by one of the guys in the group in his van. We drove right up to the road-end and had a good walk at the valley head. I did get wet feet again though which meant I now had no dry boots!

The next day was going home day... However, my main boots had nearly dried out and I had lots of fresh socks so I decided that, despite it still being awful weather, I really should go and do Geal Charn which had been one of my original objectives. It was all good experience for me as I haven't really walked in other than really good winter conditions. I didn't go from the Markie Burn as it advises not to go that way if it's in spate and I assumed it would be. So I went from Garva Bridge (the road end). That is a really simple route for navigation anyway and it was pretty misty. It was okay to where you have to cross the burn coming out of the 'corrie' between Geal Charn and Ben Sgiath - that was really raging. There was a group of about 20 who I'd just caught up with and they were trying to cross it at the bottom which I thought was silly. I set off up towards where it flattens out and they eventually followed me. It was much easier to cross further up - much slower running and had the odd island which made it narrower to jump across bits.

After I'd crossed the burn and climbed up the really thick and nearly vertical snow up the far bank (some bits of bank actually had cornices!) I set off across the boggy bits. Almost immediately, I sank in up to the top of my legs! I did this a few times before I realised I really had to keep off the snowy bits where possible and go for the heathery bits sticking out and try to join them together - otherwise I was going to make no progress at all! After that, things went pretty well. I had to ascend a steepish snowfield but it was quite a bit firmer and I only sank to about my ankles which was good for grip. I headed for the ridgeline as I figured the snow might have blown off that as it was fairly windy. I was right and when I reached the ridge, it was clear of snow with a lovely path running up. So it was all plain sailing thereafter and I managed to do it in 3.5 hours which I thought was reasonable. Of course I had soaking feet again but it didn't matter as I was going home.
Last edited by mountain coward on Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gairich(nearly) & Geal Charn (Monadh Liath)

Postby mountain coward » Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:50 am

The only photos I took on the weekend above due to the dire weather! Just got them back and scanned them so thought I'd post them anyway...

First 3 are of the frozen river near Kinloch Laggan
Frozen River & Loch Laggan.jpg
Frozen river, Glen Spean.jpg
Frozen River, Glen Spean1.jpg
and the last is up Glen Roy:
Glen Roy bridge.jpg
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Re: Gairich(nearly) & Geal Charn (Monadh Liath)

Postby Freewheelin » Fri Mar 06, 2009 2:03 am

The weather might have been dire, but the pix look great - I'm jealous!
I'm getting cabin fever at the moment 'cos I only get the chance to get out every other Sunday, and apart from one (so far), there have been howling gales :(
What's happening with the weather this year???? :x
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Re: Gairich(nearly) & Geal Charn (Monadh Liath)

Postby Paul Webster » Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:07 am

That's some cold to freeze the Spean like that 8)

I'm ready for a good high pressure spell now too - let's hope we get a spell like last years' April and May...
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Re: Gairich(nearly) & Geal Charn (Monadh Liath)

Postby yokehead » Fri Mar 06, 2009 7:37 pm

An epic outing by the sound of it. Like the photos, sad when the snow goes I think, but it's back again now!
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Re: Gairich(nearly) & Geal Charn (Monadh Liath)

Postby mountain coward » Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:22 pm

We've been lucky in the Dales with the weather recently and haven't had anything other than dull or frosty/sunny - no gales at all! They're the one thing which really keep me off the hill after I was out in a gale on easy, grassy, wide Green Gable - my buddy Richard said we should go back as it was too windy and I said it was 'only Green Gable' and to stop fussing. As I turned to say that to him I was flung across a huge stone cairn, completely beheading it! Luckily I'm extremly numb externally so only the cairn suffered! I decided he was right! :lol:
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