1049 m. |
Translation: White hill
Pronuncation: geel kaarn
Labour Day 2005.
Instead of attending a traditional union rally in one of Europe’s major cities like Mechernich, Saarbrücken, Nottingham or Berlin we had set our minds on a group of hills where workers’ rights and work conditions – important as they are – would be of less importance than rights of way and weather conditions.
From Luiblea on the Spean Bridge to Newtonmore road we started our hill-walk on a Sunday morning. The weather looked like there would be some rain and sleet on the hills. Twenty minutes into the walk we put on our raingear. It was to be put to good use, indeed, this day. After a little less than one hour of walking on a landrover track we reached Lochan na Earba whence we continued up a good stalkers path which contours around the foot of Sgurr an t-Saighdeir, which basically is some big crags on the lower slopes of Creag Pitridh. Steadily we climbed this path beside the Allt Coire Pitridh. Visibility became rather bad when we entered the cloud cover, the basis of which hung at around 600m.
After about 2 hours we reached the col between Geal Charn and Beinn a’Chlachair. There we turned left on a path which – as our map said – leads to the col between Creag Pitridh and Geal Charn. We got to this second col after fifteen minutes of walking. Here the cloud cover broke for the first time and we were lucky enough to get a few glimpses of the steep path up Creag Pitridh and the crags below its summit. After a short break used to refill our batteries with sandwiches, biscuits and tea we followed the path up the south-westerly face of the first Munro of the day.
At the summit the wind was blowing really hard. We met a pair of walkers up there and these two ladies gave us some directions for the continuation to Geal Charn from where they had just come. We retraced our steps to the col below Geal Charn and headed up the western slopes of this hill. We followed a more or less easterly bearing and finally got to the southwest ridge of Geal Charn which seemed more like a plateau. Visibility was down to maybe 30 metres, rain and sleet were coming down at us and the ridge appeared to be a plateau rather than a well defined back of a hill. We followed a more or less easterly bearing and crossed a few bumps in the ridge still seeing nothing.
Then, we finally saw the cairn of Geal Charn appear in front of us and the trig point right behind it. At the cairn we congratulated each other on having made this second Munro in such appalling conditions. We were soon joind by a group of four Scotsmen who touched the cairn and headed back down the hill – just as we did one minute later. Visibility still being bad we navigated using our compasses and followed a west-south-westerly bearing which in due time led us back to the path coming up from the col below Beinn a’chlachair.
Once back on the path we walked down into the corrie beside the Allt Coire Pitridh which was a burn in spate, now that heavy rain had fallen. Ten minutes before we reached the landrover track at Lochan na Earba we paused in the grass beside the burn and enjoyed a snack and a few shy rays of sunlight breaking their way through the clouds. Then we shouldered our rucksacks and followed the track back to our starting point at Loch Laggan, which we reached when the sun broke through the clouds again for a minute. A pity we did not have better conditions on this fine walk.
A hard day on the hills but two Munros well-earned. Fun and a feeling of being alive.
Description This group of mountains lies south of Loch Laggan in the Ardverikie Forest. Beinn a' Chlachair is the most prominent of the three, being a high isolated plateau with steep crags and corries on its sides. Geal Charn is also a prominent mountain when seen from upper Strathspey. Creag Pitridh is a smaller, but quite a rocky peak with steep crags above Lochan na h-Earba. There are good tracks and stalker's paths leading the several kilometres to these mountains from the A86 road near Loch Laggan, and they provide the best route of access.From the A86 road at the south-west end of Loch Laggan, follow the track eastwards to the head of Lochan na h-Earba and go up the stalker's path south-east for about a kilometre. Leave the path and climb south up the broad ridge on the east side of Coire Mor a' Chlachair and go round the rim of this corrie to the summit of Beinn a' Chlachair. Descend along the north-east ridge with a steep drop at its end to reach the stalker's path again. Go down it for a short distance then take another path climbing north-east between Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh. From the col between them climb Geal Charn first, then Creag Pitridh and from there descend south-west to the original stalker's path and return by the outward route.