MUNRO ADVENTURE 2015
DAY 28 ( 28th MAY )
SUNSHINE AND BLIZZARDS
Geal-charn (917m, Munro 278) – ‘white hill’
A’Mharconaich (975m, Munro 181) – ‘the place of horses’
Beinn Udlamain (1011m, Munro 119) – ‘jointed or unsteady hill’
Sgairneach Mhor (991m, Munro 155) – ‘big scree’
A’Bhuidheanach Bheag (936m, Munro 240) – ‘little yellow place’
Meall Chuaich (951m, Munro 214) – ‘hill of the quaich’
Got parked up last night at a quiet spot about one mile from Trinafour on the Tummel Bridge road , it rained most of the evening and night . It was only 3deg this morning so that probably meant more of the white stuff on the tops . Got myself organised and headed for the A 9 and parked at Balsporran Cottages , it was dry and bright when I set off at 8 but that only lasted 30 mins when the sleet then proper snow and strong winds hit.
I approached Geal Charn summit , compass bearing to to reach the top of Coire Far and again for the ascent to A’Mharconaich , within a minute the skies cleared and it clear views all round , onto the summit and a look down at the matchbox size trucks and cars far below on the A9 . Ben Alder in the opposite direction was totally white and still in winter condition , onward towards Beinn Udlamain and within minutes it was back into a blizzard and that lasted to the summit , with a little respite at the boggy bealach it came on again as I approached Sgairneach Mhor and that was it till I was well down on the descent to the valley down a extremely wet boggy path to reach the track back to the A9 and followed the cycle track and as usual a downpour 10 minutes before I reached the van . Had lunch and a well deserved snooze while the rain showers rattled through before driving down the road to park at Cuaich.
It was clear skies again so set off again using my bike as it’s a good track to the foot of the hill passing the power station then the locked bothy where I left it . The track up the hill was extremely dry considering the weather it’s been , clear views but not for long 15 minutes before the summit it was back to heavy snow all the way there , sheltered behind the big cairn for a while and had some food before heading back into it till it stopped at almost the same place it started on the way up , back to the bike and a easy cycle out . On the way a Red Grouse and it’s 6 chicks came across the track , the chicks disappeared into the heather the mother pretending to have a broken wing leading us away . Then just before the road a weasel , (not a stoat because it’s stotally different ) . Job done battling with the elements .
Today’s totals 23.59mls – 1829m ascent – 6hrs 55mins
79 Munros to date.
Another big day in bad weather for Graeme and Penny wild weather and no sign of change. These are fairly open hills that get all the weather just of the A9. My Dog ended up in the run off for the hydro many years ago and ended up a long way down the hill. He never did that again. He was chasing a stick that one of the party threw. The summit gives on a good day great views of the remote Gaick and where the real wilderness begins and the rounded hills wild in bad weather. I had a wild few days here in our winter walk in 1977 in December.
Day 18 November 14 1977 My walk West To East in December
Dalwhinnie – Meal Chuaich ( Hill of the Quaich) to Gaick Lodge. A day of wind heavy snow and avalanche slopes.
I look back and this part of the walk was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The A9 was closed as we crossed it after meeting Jimmy Simpson a great character and local Policeman and SARDA member. He was laughing at us as we vanished into the white void, these were the days before the A9 had gates but the road was well and truly blocked and would be for a few days. Meal Chuaich is usually an easy hill accessible from the A9 normally done with a few others but not today. You follow the aqueduct which takes water from Loch Cuaich to Loch Ericht all part of the hydro and past a small bothy it was really hard going and the wind and weather was up. From here you follow a broad ridge and then on to the flat shoulder above Stac Chuaich and then onto the summit. It was wild here and the big bags were heavy with 3 days food. From here it was awful ground 3 miles over deep snow and hidden burns all above 2500 feet and then the steep avalanche descent to Gaick Lodge. I was really worried about this descent as this was where one of Scotland biggest avalanches struck.
Situated South-West of the Cairngorms between the A9 and Glen Feshie is Gaick lodge in Glen Tromie. On New Year’s Eve in 1800 the original Gaick Lodge was hit by one of the UK’s most historical avalanches. The remains of 5 men and their dogs were recovered eventually. They were at the time sleeping in the bothy which was completely covered and destroyed by the immense avalanche. On a recent visit we saw that several large avalanches had crossed the main track which leads you into the estate. You will find the full story of this incident in Blyth Wright and Bob Barton’s book “A chance in a million”
We followed the tracks of the great herds of deer that make this place so special there were hundreds of tracks and we saw so many, this is a wild and amazing place to be despite the weather.
There was little shelter anywhere and we had to keep going, it was tricky navigation and we descended the steep ground in the dark. We arrived at the lodge to be met by the keeper who was watching for us and was also amazed that we had come over from Dalwhinnie. He also said that the weather was wild and the forecast was for more snow, we were by now very worried.. We had a great night in the bothy and a dram with the keeper and we crashed out. We may have to re plan our route?
It was only 20 k and 967 metres but what hard work. We had a great night in the bothy near the Lodge with the snow falling all night. – There were more epics to come !!!