M37 | 1116 m. | 3661 ft.
Translation: Little hill
Pronuncation: oenach byek

1 June 2014 was my (Cord) 49th birthday and Frank had a special present for me in store: The four Munros of the Geal Charn Group from Culra. But first we needed to get there.

So the morning saw us unloading our bicycles from the car at Dalwhinnie station, shouldering our rucksacks, crossing the railway line and starting the long cycle trip to the bothy. The long track along Loch Ericht held nothing new for us since we had already used it the day before when we had climbed Ben Alder. Frank was out of sight quite quickly. My wobbly legs did not permit too much effort to be put into the 15 to 16 km leg to Culra. When I arrived there quite a while later than my companion it started to drizzle. Rats. It was to be only a short shower, however.

We then embarked upon the walk towards the Bealach Dubh which is on a very well-maintained path that makes progress easy. We skipped the Lancet Edge (my wish, a birthday has got to be good for something, you know) and soon found ourselves at the bealach which we crossed without a pause. Then we continued for a short while along the path down into the next glen. When we were past Sron Ruadh we quit the path crossed the stream and climbed into Coire a’Charra Bhig. This is a grassy corrie holding a burn with a steeply flanked bed in the upper corrie. Staying on the left bank of the stream makes life easier considerably for the wary hiker. Frank did so, I did not: another birthday present for me.

Once on the ridge we turned left (west) and headed for Beinn Eibhinn’s long curving summit ridge a kilometre away. There are two cairns on this level ridge and to be sure we visited and touched them both. The books later confirmed that this was right since it is of course the one further to the west (or more precisely to the north) which is the “real” summit. From Beinn Eibhinn we retraced our steps to the bealach between this Munro and Aonach Beag. Soon Munro No.2 was bagged as well. Unfortunately there were no views as clouds shrouded the mountain tops most of the time. But a strong wind was blowing that kept us going alright and at a brisk pace so that the body heat might counteract the wind chill.

Then the Geal Charn Plateau was at hand and the summit cairn appeared from the clouds before us. The Cairn was touched and on we went towards Carn Dearg a mere four or five kilometres away. With the help of map and compass (and the occasional glance at the GPS) we easily found the rocky rib (or ridge) separating Loch Coire Cheap (left) and Loch an Sgoir (right). The descent down this rocky ridge was fun but since there were vestiges of snow left on the steep part caution was called for. From the ensuing bealach we crossed the bump of Diollaid a’Chairn and finally tackled the very rocky summit slopes of Carn Dearg. Boulder hopping in the mist (no gorillas though). At the summit we rested for a few minutes and then continued our epic hike going down the grassy northeast ridge of Carn Dearg. Once this levels out at a very wide col we turned in a more southerly direction and descended increasingly steep slopes of heather and rocks towards Culra bothy in the glen deep, deep down below. Me being quite knackered by that time this last part of the decent felt like real fun. Another birthday treat! 🙂

At the bothy we rested our tired limbs, ate our last sandwiches and drank a lot of water. I would have gladly given away my grandmother’s silver cutlery for one simple can of ice-cold Coca Cola. Then the last leg of this trip needed our attention: the bicycle ride back to Dalwhinnie. Frank set off like a young god. I felt more like a wet towel. Anyway, in due time I also arrived at Dalwhinnie where Frank had been waiting for me for quite a while. With this arrival back in railroad country a truly epic, entertaining and memorable Munro-bagging trip was over. I shall never forget my 49th birthday. Thanks for being a good buddy, Frank, and keeping me company!

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Total distance: 50456 m
Max elevation: 1146 m
Min elevation: 359 m
Total climbing: 1394 m
Total descent: -1366 m
Total Time: 11:12:46

Description These two remote mountains form the south-western half of a long high ridge extending from Loch Ossian to Loch Pattack. On a clear day these two mountains and the neighbouring Geal-Charn can be well seen from Glen Spean across the Loch Laggan Reservoir. Aonach Beag is a well-defined peak with three ridges converging at its summit, Beinn Eibhinn is a more spacious mountain rising from Strath Ossian to its level summit ridge, below which is the deep Coire a' Charra Mhoir. The approaches to these mountains, either from Loch Ossian or from Glen Spean are quite long. The shorter one is from Corrour Halt on the West Highland Railway, and there should be time to climb both peaks and get back to the station between the morning and evening trains. Proceed along the private road on the south side of Loch Ossian and continue up the path beside the Uisge Labhair for about 1½ kilometres. Then climb north up a very broad ridge over Meall Glas Choire to reach the summit ridge of Beinn Eibhinn. Go round the head of Coire a' Charra Mhoir along the narrow ridge to Aonach Beag. The return may be made by the same route, or by dropping down into Coire a' Charra Bhig and following the path along the Uisge Labhair.The other route starts from Glen Spean near the south-west end of Loch Laggan and goes along the track to the ruins of Lubvan and then by the bounding ridges of Coire a' Charra Mhoir to make a traverse of the two mountains.