Saturday, 7 February 2009

Ski Mountaineering- Pass of Drumochter

I've had an interesting afternoon! Around 2.30pm left the house at Newtonmore and headed "down south" to the pass of Drumochter. It takes about 15 minutes in a reaible car and a bit longer in mine! The fantacstic snow cover tempted me out on to the ski-mountaineering equipment again and this time I went to Geal Charn, which is 917 m and an excellent ski. Parking the car at Balnasporran Cottages I skinned up the track that follows the Alt Coire Fhar which was well covered in snow and after about three kilometers headed north, zig zagging my way up the slopes towards the summit. Disturbing a large covey of around 47 grouse which looked very black against the snow. Further along two white mounatin hares gambolled around and I thought that the birds and animals were a better image than the two Scotty dogs which advertise "Black and White" whisky, which of course used to be made (and possible still is) at my birthing place, Dalwhinnie Distillery which is just north of this mountain. Dalwhinne whisky is high quiality and is sold as a single Malt under the Dalwhinne label and of course like all single malts it is also blended with dare I say "cheaper and not so good whiskies" to make the very popular and rather tasty blended whisky which market a bit cheaper such as "Black and White" and so on. "Grouse" is another famous whiskey named after the wonderful wild game bird which graces our Highland Hills. "Grouse" contains several reputable whiskeys and thats why it is a rather smoother drink than many and one of its important whiskies in the blend is "The Balmenach" which is a product of the Haughs of Cromdale. Balmenach is an oustanding single Malt, if you have the wealth to buy it. And thats if you can find it at all as it is rarer than Grouses teeth to buy as a single malt. The Distillery did go back into production again just few years ago.You my be wonderinhg why I am saying so much about whisky.It's beacuse I drink it and of course my family were involved with the whisky industry for many generations and me, myself, I began my working life learning the trade and working my way up to assistant manger at Balmenach. I am a mountain guide now... which is of course an equally noble profession and not so hard on the kidneys although my knees do feel it now and then! Apparently there is a beer which reaches right to the toes!!!!
There are two summit cairns on Geal Charn, from one you can clearly see Loch Ericht and Ben Alder. It's diffcult to say which one is highest, however its simple enough to visit them both! It was just on 5.00 pm when I reached the summit of Geal Charnand it was 5.48pm when I had my car lopaded u with my skis ready to drive home after a wonderful day!

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