Hills: Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh
Date: Thursday 1st November 2018
Company: Myself, Ann-Marie and Cuillin
Distance: 23.3km, Ascent: 985m
Time: 6Hrs 35Mins

On Wednesday afternoon, after finishing work, I drove to the Creag Meagaidh car park where I parked-up for the evening. On Thursday morning, I met up with Ann-Marie before proceeding four miles further along the A86 to the lay-by car park. We set off walking just after 07.30.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

The initial part of the walk was in zero visibility as we were walking in a thin layer of cloud inversion. On gaining a small amount of height we left the inversion behind. 

Heading towards Binnein Shuas:

On looking back we could see why there had been zero visibility thanks to a small band of cloud inversion sitting over the A86.

Looking across to the tops of Creag Meagaidh:

At the reservoir we were treated to nice reflections. I was already looking forward to reaching Lochan na h-Earba where I hoped the reflections would be even better.

At the reservoir:

View from the bridge at Lochan na h-Earba:

On reaching Lochan na h-Earba, I was not disappointed. The reflections on the flat calm water were stunning.

Lochan na h-Earba reflections:

From Lochan na h-Earba we followed the excellent track alongside the Allt Coire Pitridh between Creag Pitridh and Beinn a' Chlachair. It was our intention to ascend Creag Pitridh and Geal Charn leaving Beinn a' Chlachair for another day.

Binnein Shuas (Ardverikie Wall), Binnein Shios and Lochan na h-Earba:

Inversion above the A86:

Thanks to the excellent quality track, and an excited spaniel leading the way, we were soon above the snowline. On reaching the track junction we left the track between Creag Pitridh and Beinn a' Chlachair to take the track between Creag Pitridh and Geal Charn.

Above the snowline:

It had originally been my intention to ascend Creag Pitridh first but instead we opted to do the higher hill first ascending Geal Charn then Creag Pitridh. As we made our way up the snowy slopes of Geal Charn, Creag Pitridh looked small and insignificant next to Geal Charn. I was surprised at the amount of snow given it was only the 1st November. By the time we were approaching the summit we were walking through two to three inches snow depth.

View towards Creag Pitridh during ascent of Geal Charn:

Having studied the weather forecasts and map the day previous I knew the weather to the east was forecast to be better than the weather to the west. I was therefore ascending my most easterly Munros still needed for Munro Round 2. The Monadhliath hills are covered by the Cairngorms forecast which was better than the West Highlands forecast. Had we ascended hills further to the west, we would have been walking in thick cloud with zero views.

Thick cloud capping the mountains to the west:

The walk out to the large summit cairn was further than I remembered from my previous ascent of these hills in 2004. It was quite chilly at the summit so we did not hang around for long.

Approaching the summit cairn of Geal Charn:

Cuillin's 'flapometer' ears show there was a bit of a breeze.

At the summit of Geal Charn:

Cuillin at Geal Charn's trig point:

From the summit of Geal Charn we retraced our footsteps in the snow to avoid having to break trail both in ascent and descent. On reaching the track between Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh, we followed the track to its high point before heading for Creag Pitridh.

Creag Pitridh:

On reaching the base of Creag Pitridh we found and followed a path zig-zagging its way up the steep slopes. We followed this path taking care not to slip due to the snow and sections of ice. I was carrying ice axe and crampons but these remained in my pack; there was no need to use them.

By the time we reached the summit of Creag Pitridh I could see a change in the weather as cloud to the west was now creeping towards our hills.

Looking down to Binnein Shuas from the summit of Creag Pitridh:

At the summit of Creag Pitridh:

From the summit of Creag Pitridh we followed the same zig-zagging track in descent and then made our way across to the track between Creag Pitridh and Geal Charn. We could have taken a more direct line downhill, however, the temperature had now risen and the ground was no longer frozen. We decided it was better to take the longer good track than end up walking through boggy ground.

The walkout took as long as expected and alas during our final 30 minutes back to the starting point we were walking in rain. One of the great things about having a van was the ability to boil a kettle and have some hot chocolate within minutes of getting back.

Ann-Marie then set off home and Cuillin and I stayed out in the van for a further night this time parked-up at the Moray coast.

195 Munros now complete in Round 2 without really trying to complete a second round. It is however becoming increasingly tempting to aim for a second round completion. If I reach 200, I may just have to concentrate efforts to ascend the final 82.