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Marsco in the dark

Marsco in the dark


Postby Telcontar » Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:02 pm

At some point in the next week or so I'm thinking of dashing up to Skye for a landscape photography trip (the first one since December thanks to the recent unpleasantness).

Being one of those borderline mental cases that likes to be up hills for sunrise, I plan on heading up the night before, sleeping in the car at Sligachan, and then starting off about 4am to get to the top for 7am and sunrise - evolving COVID situation and, of course, the weather permitting.

Looking at the WH description and the walk reports, it seems fairly straightforward, with the main problem possibly being the boggy bit at the turn off into the bealach, and the steep slope up to the ridge. Given a good headtorch, the route laid in in Viewranger (with map and compass back up), a good pair of boots and gaiters (and ice spikes if the slope is very slippy), and walking poles, are there any problems I may be unaware of doing this route in the mostly-dark?
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Re: Marsco in the dark

Postby walkingpoles » Mon Sep 14, 2020 6:35 pm

I haven't climbed Marsco, this is at most 2 cents. I did a fair share of navigating in darkness and have been taking a tripod and a couple of lenses on a number of occasions (usually for orchids not sunrises).

I hate to rush things when photographing. Finding the best spot is occasionaly not that straightforward (Looking for some grass or rock in the foreground etc). I find your 3 hours a tight schedule, even without camera. Walking in darkness is not as quick as during daylight (lugging in a tripod as well?). Luckily it will get bright some time before sunrise. On the other hand, you might also get a good picture before reaching the summit, which is at least a sensible plan B.

If you have the gear, consider camping before the steep bit (even if you arrive after nightfall at Sligachan. Whether you walk this bit in the early hours of the night or the late hours doesn't make a difference), so that you don't need to rush and there is some room for error.

Use fresh batteries for the torch (I had some bad experiences forgetting about that one..)

I wish you good luck with the weather!
Last edited by walkingpoles on Mon Sep 14, 2020 6:40 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Marsco in the dark

Postby prog99 » Mon Sep 14, 2020 6:36 pm

I assume you meant crampons but you’ll not need ‘ice spikes’.
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Re: Marsco in the dark

Postby Telcontar » Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:06 pm

The WH map gives the Naismith as 2 hours 40 minutes so I'm hedging a little. I don't think there's a massive range of viewpoints at the summit or I would be up there a bit sooner. I've found the estimates fairly accurate in the past.

My main concern with wild camping is ticks, if I'm honest. Rather not wake up covered in the bastards! Also I only have a cheap tent that, along with a sleeping bag and mat, is considerably heavier than my tripod :)

I have fresh batteries in the headlight, a spare set of fresh, and a backup torch - be prepared is my mantra for this kind of thing.
Last edited by Telcontar on Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Marsco in the dark

Postby Telcontar » Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:07 pm

prog99 wrote:I assume you meant crampons but you’ll not need ‘ice spikes’.


Well, those rubber and metal things that you pull on over your boots - nothing major, but should help with grip if it's slippy.
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Re: Marsco in the dark

Postby WalkWithWallace » Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:25 pm

I'd wild camp it myself, but study the route on the 1:25K scale map on the route discription here, that'll show of anything to look out for, crags, steep terrain etc.

I only have issues with ticks when camping lower down in the glens and woodland, usually okay once on the ridges and tops.
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Re: Marsco in the dark

Postby Telcontar » Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:28 pm

WalkWithWallace wrote:I'd wild camp it myself, but study the route on the 1:25K scale map on the route discription here, that'll show of anything to look out for, crags, steep terrain etc.

I only have issues with ticks when camping lower down in the glens and woodland, usually okay once on the ridges and tops.


Fair enough. I'm considering putting it off till later in the year now actually. Maybe November when the hours are more civilised and there's some snow about.
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Re: Marsco in the dark

Postby prog99 » Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:54 pm

Telcontar wrote:
prog99 wrote:I assume you meant crampons but you’ll not need ‘ice spikes’.


Well, those rubber and metal things that you pull on over your boots - nothing major, but should help with grip if it's slippy.

Not in september, maybe November if you postpone.
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Re: Marsco in the dark

Postby Sgurr » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:43 pm

Maybe it depends on the wind direction, but we were doing fine walking along the main track and there didn't seem much wind at all, but as we turned off it seemed to funnel through and make walking difficult, and we actually had to crawl for a while when we started the ascent proper. When we came down, we saw some people turn back at this place as all their jackets were flapping like mad and one of them was blown over. All I am saying is that if it is windy, you may take longer than you think.
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Re: Marsco in the dark

Postby Caberfeidh » Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:13 am

Telcontar wrote:
prog99 wrote:I assume you meant crampons but you’ll not need ‘ice spikes’.


Well, those rubber and metal things that you pull on over your boots - nothing major, but should help with grip if it's slippy.


Those microspikes are not suitable at all for hillwalking, just for flat level paths before the hills. If you wear them on a slope they will slip around your boot, twisting your ankle and leaving you injured and miserable, in the dark, in a dangerous position. MICROSPIKES ARE NOT FOR HIKING UP HILLS. I doubt if it will be icy in September, most likely just rainy.
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Re: Marsco in the dark

Postby Telcontar » Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:17 am

Caberfeidh wrote:
Telcontar wrote:
prog99 wrote:I assume you meant crampons but you’ll not need ‘ice spikes’.


Well, those rubber and metal things that you pull on over your boots - nothing major, but should help with grip if it's slippy.


Those microspikes are not suitable at all for hillwalking, just for flat level paths before the hills. If you wear them on a slope they will slip around your boot, twisting your ankle and leaving you injured and miserable, in the dark, in a dangerous position. MICROSPIKES ARE NOT FOR HIKING UP HILLS. I doubt if it will be icy in September, most likely just rainy.


That's good to know, thanks. I will leave them at home!
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