Glas Maol - 1065m
Sunday 17th January 2010

Weather/Conditions: Sunny initially. It was a beautiful winters day when we arrived, but cloud from the west arrived and would have been a good whiteout had it not been for the ski equipment giving us a guaranteed route back.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 6.3km / 450m / 3h 40m
Accompanying: Ian

Glas Maol on a sunny winters day is not for the wilderness-seeker. When we visited on this day, the hillsides were packed with skiers and snowboarders all out to take advantage of the powder snow and sun, and the resulting numbers were staggering. The Cairngorm ski centre was closed (too much snow blocked the road) so everybody must have collected at Glen Shee instead, the ski centre raking in the much-needed cash. The enormous scale of the car park, perched at 650m, is testament to this. It was a surreal sight and I had never seen anything like it.

But it was an enjoyable day out, for differing reasons to why I might enjoy a remote, west coast mountain. Indeed, it was great itself to see this part of the country again. I hadn't been on the rolling eastern Grampians in many months and was glad to finally be back on them. They aren't the most inspiring hills when perhaps thousands turn it into a Grampian Sauchiehall Street, but memories of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor (Nov. 2008) always stuck in my mind and I never forgot the achingly beautiful slopes of these barren eastern hills.

The day started out well - the conditions were excellent - and Ian and I held a steady pace up past Meall Odhar. The road is extremely high by British standards, so means that only several hundred metres have to be climbed before the top is reached. We had a good time plodding past the ski tows in the sun, but I was aware that cloud cover was moving in from the west. By the time we were approaching the broad dome of Glas Maol itself, cloud capped the summit.

Glas Maol has an extremely broad summit dome (plateau-like) so finding the summit may be problematic in the mist. We followed previous footsteps across the plateau and although we began to feel as if we'd missed the summit trig point, having already walked for a substantial amount of time, further walking took us there. It's simply a big place, and ready-carved footprints brought us to the top without really having to navigate much at all.

In the mist, there isn't much to see, so after about ten minutes we turned around and descended. The mist was far thicker on the way down, but we found the ski tows near the bottom and an uneventful (but enjoyable, as always) walk took us back to the vast car park. It was a short day, but one more Munro of course and another chance to see these hills. I personally prefer the seclusion of the more remote eastern summits, but why not have a short day on the slopes? It's always worth it anyway.

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 11.25am Ski centre car park
(2.05) 1.30pm Glas Maol
(2.20) 1.45pm Glas Maol (left)
(3.40) 3.05pm Ski centre car park

Written: 2010-01-24