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A' Chralaig New Year

A' Chralaig New Year


Postby Alastair S » Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:38 pm

Route description: A'Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire

Munros included on this walk: A' Chralaig

Date walked: 01/01/2011

Time taken: 6.1 hours

Distance: 12.1 km

Ascent: 990m

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A' Chralaig profile.jpg


Granite City Hillwalkers Hogmanay meet, day 2
After the previous days clag out New Year's Day revealed high cloud and a significant drop in temperature. While several folk opted for the hill I did yesterday (A' Ghlas Bheinn) and a good portion of the rest headed for the nearby Corbett of Sgurr an Airgid that only left Jill & myself looking for something else to do. As I'd done nowt in this area I readily agreed to Jill's suggestion of A' Chralaig.

The usual not particularly early start saw us on our way just after 10am. Jill’s current boots weren’t compatible with her crampons so in sympathy I decided to leave mine in the car. My thinking was that if Jill couldn’t go on without crampons then I wasn’t likely to carry on without her. After all she had the car :lol: We both had ice axes.

We had been warned that the first hour would be hard work and the advice was spot on. We were soon discarding layers as there was hardly a breath of wind around. It took us just over an hour to get to the 750m mark where the slope eased off and we stopped for a breather, drink & photos. There were a couple of walkers half a k in front of us all the way up. Views were pretty good, especially of the Glen Shiel ridge.


Glen Shiel ridge and Loch Cluanie from the slopes of A' Chralaig
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Full size image over here


The Brothers and Sisters of Kintail as seen from the summit of A'Chralaig. Not an expert on the area so I'm not to confident as to the names of all the peaks. Behind to the left is The Saddle (probably) & in the distance on the right The Cuillin of Skye.
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Approaching A'Chralaig
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On we cracked over frozen ground & patches of frozen snow. With about a k to go we could see that the final half k was solid snow – and I mean solid: you could hardly get an edge. However there was a clear track to the top that had been created when the snow was a good deal softer. So up the post-holes we went. However there were a couple of patches where for one reason or another the post-holes shrunk to indistinct impressions. We proceeded extremely cautiously. I did think of swapping my two poles for my axe but as the slope wasn’t particularly steep I would have been bending down to get the axe into the ground. So we got to the rather impressive summit cairn just after 12:30 to find 3 others sheltered from the biting wind. It was not a gale but it was about -5C in the car at the start so it was quickly on with another layer. The pair we had seen earlier had been joined by a young chap with a huge back-pack who had camped at 1000m the previous night. The others said they intended to go on to Mullach Fraoch-choire but without crampons that was out of the question for us – we were pushing our luck as it was.

A'Chralaig summit cairn
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Heading towards Mullach Fraoch-choire from the summit of A'Chralaig
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Mullach Fraoch-choire from A'Chralaig
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Ridge between A'Chralaig & Mullach Fraoch-choire
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We didn’t hang around at the top and left just after the couple. As we gingerly picked our way over the icy snow the wild camper came stomping past us on this crampons. There were a few rocky bits to clamber down but the post-holes were getting less frequent. We were very nearly off the snow when the inevitable happened. With my 14st/90kg frame I was just about able to get an edge but the same was not so for the more modestly built Jill. In the end she only slide about 10m. After that we were soon off the snow and stopped for our lunch and to plan our return route. We weren’t pressed for time so decided to head for the gentlest slope down, which was after that top of Stob Coire na Cralaig, down Coire Odhar.

Looking back at A'Chralaig
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On the ridge to Mullach Fraoch-choire
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Mullach Fraoch-choire from the Munro Top of Stob Coire na Cralaig
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As we made our way along the broad ridge we saw that the couple had sensibly given up on Mullach Fraoch-choire (they didn’t have crampons either) and were contouring round the top we were header for. We got to the top without any problems (there was only snow near the ridge) but looking down from this top the next section of ridge was considerably narrower and steeper. But the ridge up to Mullach Fraoch-choire looked even more of a challenge – definitely something for another day. So we headed down the west flank of the mountain. The going was excellent – the ground was dry, there wasn’t any heather about (unlike the way up) & it was easy to avoid the odd patch of snow. The path along the glen wasn’t so good however – a bog fest for a k until it turned into a track. And back to the car just after 4pm with a quick nip into the Cluanie Inn for a bit of rehydration :D


An Caorann Mor is the name of the glen, with caorann being Gaelic for rowan even though this is now a tree free zone. The catchily named Munro of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan in the background.
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So ended up doing the highest & lowest of the Kintail Munros. It won't be too long before I start to fill in the rest :D
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Alastair S
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Re: A' Chralaig New Year

Postby kinley » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:13 pm

Nice - we were not far away on Mam Sodhail 8)

Could've seen you through the binoculars :lol:

Mullach is not one I fancy in winter :D
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Re: A' Chralaig New Year

Postby LeithySuburbs » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:40 pm

Interesting report again Alastair 8) . I can bet that section between the 2 munros was a bit hairy!
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Re: A' Chralaig New Year

Postby dooterbang » Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:07 am

Nice report, nice photos...again :)

Love this area.

Was up late OCT and had a ball, did these 2 with another 3....

http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=7960

Heading back weekend 12th Feb to do the Brothers :D
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Re: A' Chralaig New Year

Postby Alastair S » Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:39 am

LeithySuburbs wrote:I can bet that section between the 2 munros was a bit hairy!

We didn't do the second one (Mullach Fraoch-choire) so it was only the half k either side of A' Chralaig that was tricky.
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Alastair S
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Re: A' Chralaig New Year

Postby HighlandSC » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:25 am

Great report Alastair, details the route nicely. This pair have been on my radar for a while, since doing a winter skills course on the W slope of A Chralaig, but haven't got there yet.

Love the pano of the South Glen Shiel Ridge (one of my highlights from last year).
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Re: A' Chralaig New Year

Postby monty » Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:03 pm

Nice report Alistair.
Some excellent pictures too. Crampons are a necessity in those conditions and thoughts of doing Mullach Fraoch-choire ridge would be suicide without at this time of year. I done these in good weather in the summer and the ridge is quite scary then ( not really scary but depends on your outlook) :D But it was a nice surprise when we walked it. It would be a different walk covered in ice and snow. :D

Nice round though.
Attachments
24 The path going around one of the pinnacles.jpg
18a-The-serated-ridge-of-Mullach-Fraoch-Choire.jpg
monty
 

Re: A' Chralaig New Year

Postby malky_c » Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:39 pm

Heheh - I found the same snow conditions the next day on Am Faochagach - I did have my crampons on for a short while, but this turned out to be after I'd crossed the worst of the 'pretend snow' (ie ice!).

Some good shots there, and probably a wise decision to get off the ridge at that point. I've done Mullach Fraoch Coire from Glen Affric in winter conditions, and there is a short bit of arete on the NE side of the summit which gave me the heebie jeebies. Thing is, it's nothing compared to the bit of ridge you missed out!

8)
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Re: A' Chralaig New Year

Postby Alastair S » Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:14 pm

As with most of our (Granite City Hillwalkers) meets I usually don't know what hill I'll be doing till the day it self. On this occasion I was disappointed to find out that no-one was interested in doing the Five Sisters because they had already done them or didn't fancy it in winter conditions. So I'd didn't know anything about Mullach Fraa'och-choire's ridge beforehand. For a while it looked like we might have had a look as soon as we got near the summit of A'Chralaig it was clear this would be something for another day. But it was still a fab day so no regrets - just another to add to my list of must do's :D
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