09 January 2012
14.9 km/670 m/04:30 hrs
Munro: Meall Chuaich (No. 211)
A few years ago this had been one of my first walks after I had bought a pair of crampons, it was great to be able to ascend the iced-up hillside without problems, but halfway up the clouds came down and it started snowing. Meall Chuaich is not the most exciting hill, but it is supposed to be a great viewpoint – and if I wouldn’t get any views from the top, I didn’t see the point of climbing it, so I turned back.
Today it looked as if I had a good chance to actually enjoy the views from the summit, the sky was clear and there were only patches of snow left.
An hour after I started from a lay-by on the A9, about 2 km north of Dalwhinnie, I passed this locked, private bothy.
Shortly afterwards, a small cairn marks the start of the path up to Stac Meall Chuaich.
Looking back from the ascent path.
The path is very eroded and boggy, but straightforward.
As I climbed higher, I had to stop every few minutes to turn around and admire the views behind me – the Bealach Dubh with Ben Alder on the left and Sgòr Iutharn on the right (zoomed).
The West Drumochter hills and the Ben Alder group.
Approaching the bealach between Stac Meall Chuaich and Meall Chuaich.
The next time I turned around, I saw very dark clouds above…
Within minutes, the summit disappeared in the clouds!
Of course I was disappointed, but I was confident the clouds would lift again, so I continued towards the top. And I was lucky, about ten minutes later the clouds moved away to the south.
Suddenly, another hillwalker appeared ahead of me. He had arrived on the summit half an hour earlier in perfect visibility and had sat down for a lunch break. Just when he started to walk back, the clouds had descended.
After a brief chat with him I continued towards the top, I was almost running now because I was so desperate to get there before the views would disappear again!
View towards Glen Tromie.
Towards Newtonmore and the Munros NW of it.
During the descent, the weather was really nice – the wind had calmed down, and it felt quite warm in the sun. I was fascinated by the intense colours of the ground and the sky, and was almost surprised about how much I enjoyed this walk (because I had not expected too much of this “boring” hill, I must admit).
View back to the summit.
After a long tea break, sitting outside the bothy, I finally made my way back to the car. And when I looked back, I saw that the summit was disappearing into the cloud again. It seems that for once I got the timing right 😀