Carn Ealasaid - 792m
Beinn a' Chruinnich - 778m

Sunday 12th October 2008

Weather/Conditions: Windy and lightly overcast, but all summits clear.
Accompanying: Solo

Depending on what route you choose, Carn Ealasaid is possibly the easiest Corbett. The road that rises to the Lecht Ski Centre reaches 650m and Carn Ealasaid rises to 792m. If you start from the Lecht, then Carn Ealasaid won't take long. Later, I discovered that the anti-ski-development walkers were all taking routes starting at lower elevations, while avoiding the "scarred" hillsides. But my thinking was that if I could jam in a Corbett while everyone else went off for a cup of tea and a forest walk in the valleys below then I was not one to complain about starting at 650 metres, while climbing a Corbett at the same time.

(Easy...) Ascent to Carn Ealasaid

I was dropped at the ski centre mid afternoon and my first impressions were one of a bleak landscape. What do you think it's like if you're left alone in a quiet, barren landscape where the buildings and car parks are empty; ski tows and all other development are sitting quietly? It had a strange atmosphere, but with a goal firmly in mind, I followed a zigzagging track up the hillside. To reach Carn Ealasaid, I'd have to contour around the side of Beinn a' Chruinnich, a Corbett Top, and then I could ascend to the summit. I passed by the top of Chruinnich and headed around the curve of the hillside bound for another lump - Carn Ealasaid. Once I was beyond the barren ski developments, I felt like the only person about, the only idiot tramping across some heather-clad hillside to climb another lump. But I wasn't complaining because I was actually enjoying myself. If you were to ask me what I get out of it, then I wouldn't know myself. It just feels so damn good.

As I approached Carn Ealasaid, I headed into what seemed to be drainage cuttings. I could be wrong about what they are, but they offered enjoyable obstacles on a hillside that was otherwise heather-clad and easy going. I contoured around the coire rim and negotiated more channels where I made two observations. Firstly, several silhouetted figures were gradually ascending the hillside ahead of me; there were others about and it came as a surprise. Secondly, and more oddly, I realised that hidden beneath the heather lay vast numbers of dead deciduous leaves. There were leaves, up here? It seemed very odd for there was not a tree for miles and the place was covered with them, metre after metre, and as I walked, it became kilometres. But it seems they would blow up in a Scottish gale.

Once I was out of the channels, I picked up a path on the side of Carn Ealasaid. From there it was an easy angled walk up to the top. The other walkers were long gone and the wind was strong. A cairn marked the top, and I took a panorama among other various images. (The light was crap and nothing good came of many of them, especially the panorama.) I left the way I came.

Over to Beinn a' Chruinnich

I headed over to Beinn a' Chruinnich, where an easy walk over grass- (and leaf- :) ) covered terrain led to the top. When I arrived at the top, I was met with ski tows among other things; fences and sign posts, as well as an inquisitive group of staring sheep. There was nothing much here that I hadn't seen before, so I headed down the eastern slopes back to the car park at the ski centre.

When I arrived back, a car was nowhere to be seen, and I sat by the building to keep out of the wind. Watching occasional traffic going by, something would fly by, disappear and all went quiet once more. I listened to this process over and over, waiting for a lift, finishing food (I didn't eat a thing up the hill...) and watching passengers fly by wondering why a kid was sitting by the ski centre with crisps and a rucksack. I received a phone call and ten minutes later the car pulled up. Carn Ealasaid was my eighth new Corbett of 2008 and my 10th Corbett overall - I've made fair progress this year. The next day, I was in the main Cairngorm range.

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 1.30pm Lecht ski centre
(0.47) 2.17pm Carn Ealasaid
(1.40) 3.10pm Lecht ski centre

Written: 2008-10-16