Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Loch Treig and Loch Ossian: Carn Dearg (98), Geal-charn (26), Aonach Beag (37) and Beinn Eibhinn (48)

Walk date: 8/7/14
My Munro #'s: 247, 248, 249 and 250

Pronunciations - translations - heights:

Caarn jerrack - red hill - 1034m
Gyal chaarn - white hill - 1132m
Oenach byek - small ridge - 1114m
Byn ayveen - delightful hill - 1100m

Duration - 08:20 - 17:20
Distance -  approx 25 km
Total ascent -  1093m
Weather - Grand.  Almost no wind all day.  No real sunny spells but mild throughout, just a few spots of rain but nothing to worry about.
Team - with Paul P
Other hikers: none

Day 4 - Tuesday

And now, time for the hike that inspired this year's choice of accommodation; the impressively remote string of four munros on the north side of the Ben Alder group.  After abandoning even the idea of it on year's week of snow, it was indescribably wonderful to start hiking from our own flat toward some of the least frequented Munros in the land.

The route meant we would stay low until the furthest point, and then return along the peaks, the opposite of our strenuous Loch Mullordoch approach in Glen Cannich, however this was very different with a good 'low' path.  This track took us past hydro plant work, and we had to avoid hard-working JCB diggers on the way.  This track also gained a lot of height before we lost it, only to have to get it back along long grassy slopes.

There was no marker to leave the well-made path that we were on, but as Culra bothy got closer, and we started to round Carn Dearg, we had to make a move, and so just randomly left the confines of the path and made a bee-line for the bealach between Dearg and Charn.  

Progress was surprisingly good along spongy grass slopes.  As we crossed a small river for a short while there even looked like there was a path, but it soon disappeared.   The incline increased slightly and we were on the broad back of one of the most remote Munros there is.  A short push and we were at its summit, looking proudly down on Culra, and wondering if we would have even made it this far if we'd have pushed ahead with the bothy-stay plan in last year's snow.

After some snacking we were off toward Geal-charn and the contour-packing east ridge, which had had me quite worried as I'd studied the map at home, but which in actual fact was a steep but very safe ascent.  However, the impressive amount of snow that remained in July made me glad we'd never made a winter visit!

After the impressive ridge, there is an unexpected wide summit plain, and it merely takes a leisurely stroll along bouncy grass to make it to the summit cairn.  From there Aonach Beag and Beinn Eibhinn were very straightforward; indeed I was taken aback by how easy the walking became, although I also accepted that this was largely down to the weather and total lack of wind, and I also found myself imagining how unpleasant they would be with a storm raging, given their height and general exposure.

The two downsides to the day thereafter became apparent.  The first was when we attempted to rest for food on Beinn  Eibhinn and discovered that even at height, no wind and warmth meant masses of midges!  The second was that, despite much less pain without the insoles in my boots, the descents still caused me many problems and it slowed things up greatly.  Nevermind, it had been a wonderful day, and returning to our very own flat at the end of the walk meant that the homebrew was quickly poured and we were correspondingly refreshed!!

Looking up at the north side of Ben Alder from the track:
Almost up on Carn Dearg:

Approaching the ascent onto Geal-charn:

Approaching the summit of Geal-charn:

Aonach Beag and Beinn Eibhinn ahead:
Approaching the summit of Aonach Beag:
Aonach Beag summit, just Beinn Eibhinn to go:

Looking back up from the descent:
Views down to Ossian on the descent:

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