Geal-charn - 917m
Monday 10th February 2014

Weather/Conditions: Really cool night winter mountains. Avalanche hazard was pretty high so I stuck to the most gradual of slopes. The depth of snow is pretty phenomenal. Good visibility for the most part, with the Moon bright and high in the sky. Just the occasional light snow shower but all completely harmless.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 7km / 500m / 2h 40m
Accompanying: Dave

This hill was part of a wider weekend, mainly a climbing trip. Dave and I had been splitting our time between Newtyle and Strath Spey - all in all quite a nice climbing trip. On this particular day, we'd been climbing at Rockdust, or Creag na Cuinneige at Glen Brerechan near Pitlochry. We'd spent the afternoon sport climbing and when it got dark we headed off to Pitlochry for our traditional curry. On the road back north, I was gawping out the window at the Drumochter hills plastered in snow and shining in the moonlight. I mentioned them to Dave, and to my surprise he was up for going out. Result.

I chose Geal-charn, as the avalanche hazard was a little high at this point and the hills were completely smothered in snow. This was, after all, the "greatest winter that never was" where we didn't see an end to the storms, but the snow continued to pile up to phenomenal levels.

I loved the sense of the night, the heightened sense of remoteness, the disorientation that arises from seeing vague landforms through the dark. You can't quite work out where you are. Dave and I plodded to the top of the hill in pretty phenomenal circumstances. At first there were car headlights in a long procession through the Drumochter Pass. In time, shower showers arrived, blotting out the valley. The cars disappeared and all was dark. I felt pretty out-there, but in a safe way. The first cairn we arrived at, we called the summit, before realising there might be another one a bit further on. A little walking, and the ground did indeed rise again to the top. I looked west. I could see vague shapes of the Alder range, but it was impossible to tell what was where. I was completely inspired by that sight, inspired by all the dark, endless mountainous miles to the west.

Funnily enough, Dave wasn't so fussed about the whole thing. He'd hoped there would be some climbing involved, but then he didn't know Drumochter... That's the thing about hillwalking, it's more about a sense of travel and horizon than the technical, physical intrigue of the rock. I do them both, and love both, but they sure have different motivations despite being relatively similar activities. We headed back down our tracks and eventually to Balsporran.

On the way home the next morning, we stopped by Myopics Buttress at Dunkeld. Dave wasn't especially interested, and combined with the relentless snowmelt dripping off the top of the crag, we decided to call it and head for home.

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(2.00) 8.25pmBalsporran
(1.40) 10.05pm Geal-charn
(1.55) 10.20pm Geal-charn (left)
(2.40) 11.05pmBalsporran

Written: 2015-11-13