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Beinn Eighe

Beinn Eighe


Postby Verylatestarter » Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:53 pm

Route description: Beinn Eighe (western summits)

Munros included on this walk: Ruadh-stac Mòr (Beinn Eighe), Spidean Coire nan Clach (Beinn Eighe)

Date walked: 20/06/2019

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 18 km

Ascent: 1116m

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Last year we tackled Beinn Alligin on our first visit to Torridon and wishing to save Liathach for better weather we decided to give Beinn Eighe a try. We had just endured a miserable two days, spending a whole day on Skye sorting out a puncture (many thanks to Ewan MacRaes for their fantastic recovery service) and low level bouldering in the Coire below Sgurr a’ Chaorachain – strictly speaking my contribution was to stand in a muddy puddle for 3 hours and then rip the front valance off the car whilst manoeuvring out of the parking space. Once we stuck the valance back on with Gorilla tape purchased in Lochcarron we headed to SHY Torridon for a shower and a slap-down meal.

1 - The car park deer.JPG
The car park deer



The next morning we parked in the Coire Mhic Fhearchair car park, frequented by the country’s friendliest ‘wild’ deer. The day was windy with squally showers and the cloud base was down to about 900m with no prospect of clearing but having lost ‘two mountain’ days already this week due to bad weather we decided to go for it.

2 - Coire Dhuibh Mhor.JPG
Coire Dhuibh Mhor

3 Crossing the stream or maybe it is a path.JPG
Crossing the stream or maybe the path

4 My submission for Scottish tourist poster.JPG
My submission for Scottish Tourist Poster

5 As we rounded Sail Mhor the vista opened up and the rain eased off.JPG
As we rounded Sail Mhor the vista opened up and the rain eased off


In almost continuous rain we took the Choire Dhuibh Mhoir stalkers part towards Mhic Fhearchair hoping it would clear up by the time we got to high ground, the route taken was essentially the WH route in reverse. By the time we rounded Sail Mhor and past the waterfall the weather was looking better, and we had time for our first snack. There was only one pair of walkers wandering around, they seemed to be exploring the West side of the Coire; we headed off along the shoreline towards the Triple Buttress and the scree slope at the Ruadh-stac Mor beleach. At the end of the Lochan we swung left (East) up the slope over boulders and flat slabs (with peculiar studs in the surface) towards the bottom of the scree fan. Initially heading up the right side we made slow progress. As the fan narrowed, I headed for the left side and found the going a lot better as there were outcrops of bedrock which gave better purchase.

6 The path up to the Coire Mhic Fhearchair.JPG
The path up to Coire Mhic Fhearchair

8 The best coire in Scotland - note undelying sandstone on the triple buttress.JPG
The best coire in Scotland? - note underlying sandstone below quartzite of the triple buttress

9 Sail Mhor scree fan & possible future route -see jmarkb Beinn Eighe Scrambles - In Victorian Footsteps.JPG
Sail Mhor scree fan and possible future route - see jmarkb Beinn Eighe scrambles - In Victorian footsteps

10 Sail Mhor - sandstone cliffs.JPG
Sail Mhor - sandstone cliffs and scree fans

11 Coire panorama - scree fans aplenty.JPG
Coire panorama - with extra added scree

12 More scree - the route to the top.JPG
More scree - the route up to the ridge

14 Under the cliffs of Coinneach Mhor.JPG
Under the cliffs of Coinneach Mhor

15 Sandstone slab with strange inclusions - anyone know what they are.JPG
Sandstone slabs with strange inclusions - anyone know what they are?

16 The route up to the bealach.JPG
The route up to the bealach

17 We came up the middle of the screen - not a good idea.JPG
We came up the middle of the scree at first - not a good idea!

18 The better route was up the North side.JPG
The better route was up the North side

19 People do this for fun.JPG
Apparently some people do this for fun!


Once you are at high level you can see the path below runs right (North) from the scree chute and stays away from the Loch almost until the slabs. By sticking close to the Loch we found a more difficult route

Reaching the belach at 868m the views over to Spidean Coire nan Clac looked grim, the low cloud shrouding the Munro peak and draining what colour out of the landscape. Like most hills Beinn Eighe looks better in sunlight, in cloud there’s a definite sinister aspect, it shows it’s age, the quartzite looks corroded and rotten. The two Ruadh-stac ridges look more like capsized ships hulls rather than hills.

20 Ben on Ruadh-stac Mor - notice fell runner on skyline.JPG
Ben on Ruadh-stac Mor - notice fell runner on the skyline

21 First summit of the day.JPG
First summit of the day (probably)


We turned North along the shallow spine of Ruadh-stac Mor picking our way amongst the boulders. The wind at this point was strong and I found it difficult to stay upright on the uneven ground. The higher we got the more into the clag; as I stumbled yet again in the wind I caught a flash of yellow in my peripheral vision. A fell runner bounded by seemingly oblivious to the conditions; how they do that I don’t know. Given that he was the only person we encountered at high level all day I would have thought he was taking a risk running solo; we never found his corpse so presumed he must have got home.

22 Coire Ruadh-stac with Ruadh-stac Beag and Meall a Ghiuthais.JPG
Coire Ruadh-stac with Ruadh-stac Bearg

23 Pano of the ridge towards Spidean Coire nan Clach.JPG
Pano of the ridge towards Spidean nan Clach

25 Down below the clag.JPG
Down below the clag

26 The sandstone portion of the Beinn Eighe ridge.JPG
The sandstone portion of the BE ridge

27 Looking up towards the trig point, sandstone changes to quartzite.JPG
Looking towards the Trig point as sandstone changes to quartzite


Having reached the Munro we turned about face, back over the belach and up onto Coinneach Mhor to a large cairn. I sat down in the lee of the cairn whilst Ben went off to the West to explore the plateau in dense mist; after about 15 slightly worrying minutes he came back. After another snack we headed East along the ridge and down out of the clag, the rock underneath changed from quartzite to sandstone for a while. The lower reaches of two Northern arms of the ridge looked dramatic, colossal and grim; it’s sheer cliffs, masses of scree and striking bands of rock were distorted and diffused by the poor light and low cloud. Coire Ruadh-staca looked a barren and bleak chasm, lacking the bold rock architecture or Lochan of Mhic Fhearchair, I suspect it unlikely to have many visitors.

28 Along the East side of the Coire Ruadh-stac.JPG
Along the East side of Coire Ruadh-stac

30 Ruadh-stac Mor & plenty of scree.JPG
Ruadh-stac Mor and plenty of scree

31 Stuc Coire an Laoigh and plenty of scree.JPG
Stuc Coire an Laoigh and plenty of scree

32 back in the clag and the Trig point summit.JPG
Back in the clag and the Trig point summit

33 Beyond the Trig point.JPG
Beyond the Trig point

34 Spidean Coire nan Clag.JPG
Spidean Coire nan Clag

35 Dissapointing summit cairn.JPG
A somewhat meagre summit cairn


We carried on along the narrow ridge of the sandstone and back onto the beastly quartzite, the precipice on the left, the gentler slope on the right which curved round to the small prominence of Stuc Coire an Laoigh. There were tantalising glimpses through the mist to Loch Clair and South Torridon. I looked forward to the view from it’s tiny peak. As we ascended, we were back in the clag, coming up to the trig point at 972 we were aware that it wasn’t the Munro so we continued the path Northwards and Spidean Coire nan Clach loomed out of the murk. The last 30m or so was blocky and awkward, the breeze seemed much stronger now we were side on to it. The summit attained we sat around to enjoy the non-view, take the usual pictures and eat.

36 The way down into Coire an Laoigh withplenty of scree.JPG
The way down into Coire an Laoigh with plenty of scree

37 Waterfall and scree.JPG
Waterfall and scree


We picked our way down the east side of the ridge to the trig point and then left to the bealach, by the time we got there it was shrouded in mist so there being little point in heading out to Stuc Coire an Laoigh, we headed down into the Coire. The upper slope was scree and the lower grass with the path heavily eroded. Once down onto the gentle slopes the walking was pleasant if seemingly endless. We pass a small waterfall and then over the undulating ground to the road for the two mile walk to the car park.



In conclusion, Beinn Eighe is a great mountain and the day didn’t do it justice. I would like to revisit and am planning an end to end traverse taking in Sail Mhor and the Black Carls starting with jmarkb’s route up Sail Mhor. I would suspect it’s a bit over the top and beyond my capabilities but worth the try.
Verylatestarter
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Re: Beinn Eighe

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Tue Mar 02, 2021 8:25 pm

The “peculiar studs” could be fossilised worm burrows - also known as pipe rock or skolithos see e.g. https://www.jeremyfenton.scot/page3.html


Tim
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Re: Beinn Eighe

Postby Verylatestarter » Wed Mar 03, 2021 7:29 pm

Tim

Thanks for the info. Coming from East Anglia i am fascinated by the geology of the mountains. A wonderful place.

John
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Re: Beinn Eighe

Postby jmarkb » Wed Mar 03, 2021 8:50 pm

I'm no geologist, but I thought that pipe rock was found in quartzite and that the Torridon sandstones are too old for much in the way of fossils? These may be some sort of mineral concretion that resists erosion better than the surrounding rock, but I'm not certain.
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Re: Beinn Eighe

Postby Verylatestarter » Thu Mar 04, 2021 7:04 pm

I think you may be right about them not being pipe rock. it's in sandstone. They are fairly widespread below the cliff and on flat surfaces; i. not certain if it's the top layer of sandstone or an inter layer but it is close to the boundary between sandstone and quartzite. If they were within the layers i would have thought i would have seen them on the edges of the slabs as well as the top.
IMG_4928.JPG

IMG_4926.JPG
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Joined: Oct 14, 2020
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