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Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thulim

Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thulim

Postby eharbottle » Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:43 am

Munros included on this walk: Sgurr nan Coireachan (Glenfinnan), Sgurr Thuilm

Date walked: 05/01/2011

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 13 km

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A New Year, deep snow and I fancied a challange, the forecast wasn't brilliant but I hadn't been out for a while so off I went. I got to the Glenfinnan carpark in the dark and took the bike off the roof, having read numerous reports I really didn't fancy walking up the tarmac road to Collyhully and this proved to be a good call.
The tarmac road from the carpark is in better condition that the A82 (not difficult I know) and I was soon cycling towards the bothy with relative ease. As you get towards the bothy the tarmac turns left up towards the lodge and a normal track begins, I went a little way past the bothy and as the climb started to steepen I left the bike by the side of the track. If I had put more effort in I could have cycled a bit further as it turns out as the track is fairly good quality all the way up the glen.
By now the drizzle had started and I could see that the clouds were low but thankfully so was the wind.
I found the path from the main track easily as it is marked on the map, has a cairn next to it and a big sign - all good.
The snow line was at around 300m and so as I meandered up the path became harder to follow and it became obvious that not many others had ventured this way recently.

looking across at the way down.jpg

Entering the Cloud.jpg

As I headed along the ridge line the viz dropped, the snow deepened, and I needed to take out the compass and give some thought to the navigation. The ridge itself was ok until I got just below the 852 top, here the ridge narrowed considerably, the snow was very deep and the ice axe came out. This little bit took quite a long time to negotiate in the conditions and I was beginning to think about what conditions might be like further on. I thought about some of the summer pictures I had seen of this ridge and how how massively different it is in winter. I eventually made the 852 and came out on a very desolte plateau with 20m viz and suddenly had a feeling of 'being very alone and what am I doing here'. Still the compass was working and I picked out the very top of a couple of fence posts. It was here that I could have had a slight problem - as I was plodding along happily I saw a fence post (well the top 10cm of it) and something made me step left a bit to try and pick up the others, I carried on for 100m or so and then looked back at my original line which had suddenly ended at a cliff, as seen on the 1:50000 at 90709 87359. I did wonder if I had continued on my original route if I would have seen the drop from the direction I was coming, even in the summer I guess this could be an issue if the viz is down.

Anyway eventually the final cliff of the summit came out of the clag, does anyone else feel that when things loom out of the mist in winter they look 4 or 5 times higher than they actually are? May be its just me but these things looked massive, anyway I got to the bottom, picked a line and with help from the trusty Charlet Moser trudged onto the top of Sgurr nan Coireachan.

The views from the map were just superb, Knoydart to the north, all of the west in view and may be as far as Inverness up the Great Glen. As I put the map down I surveyed the scene and marvelled at the 20m views of snow, light grey and a large concrete block surrounded by some stones.

Sgurr nan Coireachan with views.jpg

Now what to do next, I wanted to go along the ridge to Sgurr Thulim but I didn't know if I could be bothered in this weather, then it would mean coming back again but the over riding factor was that I didn't want to go back down past the 852 as I figured that could be dodgy considering the problems I had coming up. I saw that after I had done some of the ridge I would be able to escape right back down into Coire Thoillaidh, so decision made off I went.
It was at this point, well about 20 mins later, that the weather gods said that I had suffered enough and that they would give me 40 mins of views before bringing the blanket of cloud back down. 40 mins along the 826, 825 and 858 tops was all that was needed to transform the day.

Sgurr Thuilm.jpg

The views were fantastic, even if the cloud didn't quite clear Knoydart as I was visually trying to plan my next day out. The weight lifs of your back, the map and compass go away and you can just have a great time in the snow.

Looking back.JPG

Sgurr Thuilm was in view for a few minutes and the next question came to me, if I do that I will be coming off in the dark, in fact I will be summitting in the dark probably, but I had 2 head torches and all the kit and I had climbed in the dark before so I went for it.

The cloud came back down as I approached the easy slopes of the second hill so it was back on the compass and up to the top in the gloom.

Sgurr Thuilm summit.jpg

To come off I had already decided to keep some height and come off down the Druim Coire a Bheithe and so I plodded off with my thoughts now turing to more important matters of what time I would make the Grog and Gruell in Ft Bill, after the cycle out, dump my stuff in the Bank St Lodge and head out so maybe half seven if I was lucky. By the time I had decided what beer I hoped would be on and what I might have to eat it was time to turn on the headtorch and then pick out a load of deer on the hill side all looking at me with bright reflective eyes.

I am sure there is a path off the ridge but I didn't find it, i just picked a line and took it steady coming over the heather and boggy bits. It was no problem to get down, just take it steady. As I entered the woods I found a couple of paths and headed for the bridge marked to cross the river. Back past the cairn and down the hill, headtorch picked out my bike and I got on for the cycle back to the car, I don't think I have ever been so glad to see a wet bike and as I peddaled along the tarmac I was so glad I had it and didn't have to walk back.

Overall a big but great day out, I was broken by the time I got to Ft Bill but as I sat drinking, Latitude I think it was, with a friend who was joining me for tomorrows jaunt I reflected on a very tough but massively rewarding day that had had everything in it.

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Re: Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thulim

Postby 2dalmatians » Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:30 pm

Nice report and pics, especially the one of the cairn stone - looks spooky!
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Re: Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thulim

Postby Les Stuart » Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:47 pm

I did these in great weather last August. Would not fancy doing them in the conditions you had, though well done.
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Re: Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thulim

Postby PeteR » Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:13 pm

Enjoyed your report. I was on these hills back in November last year. Your pictures looking along the ridge where the cloud had lifted were excellent with all the snow there.

That sense of complete "aloneness" in mist and cloud is a weird one isn't it. Just depends on my state of mind whether I can embrace it on the day or want to get myself off the hill as soon as I can.

Really enjoyed my day on these two though, although it was a bit longer than I had expected it to be. Day started without a cloud in the sky and lovely and warm. Ended in the darkness coming down off the last section of Sgurr nan Coireachan with strengthening winds and rain being blown in my face. Loved it.

Seeing your pictures, I think I'll be returning next winter perhaps to get that different perspective with the snow.
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