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Facing some fears in Torridon

Facing some fears in Torridon

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Aug 30, 2021 10:10 pm

Munros included on this walk: Mullach an Rathain (Liathach), Ruadh-stac Mòr (Beinn Eighe), Sgùrr Mòr (Beinn Alligin), Spidean a' Choire Lèith (Liathach), Spidean Coire nan Clach (Beinn Eighe), Tom na Gruagaich (Beinn Alligin)

Corbetts included on this walk: Meall Dubh

Date walked: 30/08/2021

Distance: 70 km

Ascent: 5000m

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As regular readers will know, I'm not a great lover of exposure or scary high places although have managed to get through what we've done together so far, sometimes with more, sometimes with less enthusiasm. ..in the last couple of years I have seen my confidence in such pursuits steadily crumble - partly lack of practice (too many easy hills and little subs) and partly, perhaps a filling up of the "bottle of fear" that some guides talk about. I have avoided doing certain routes and baulked at others in the past few months. And of course, each negative event puts a bit more fear into the bottle. I was having a discussion about this with my mother last week, saying that I didn't know whether to try and build my scrambling confidence or whether just to focus on enjoying long walks, like we've been doing of late. She had the view that maybe I shouldn't bother any longer with taking the risks of scrambling over stuff - surely I've done enough in the past? I thought that if I had an injury or physical impediment, I would regard this advice as sensible, but I'm in much the same physical shape as when I was doing ridges and stuff - the impediments are purely mental ones. And, having worked as a psychiatrist for a third of a century, I really ought to be able to do something about that :lol:

This weekend had a rather amorphous, undefined feel to it - I was supposed to be meeting up with Allison, I thought, on Saturday morning when she was heading back down from her week's holiday in Torridon - I reckoned we could meet up in Kintail and do the Sisters +/- Sgurr na Sgine. That would give me a couple days on my own for Corbetts. I set off, in grey skies, mid-morning on Thursday to do Meall Dubh, when Allison contacted me to say why didn't I just join them in Torridon tonight? With a cracking weather forecast, I didn't need much persuasion. But I'd do my Corbett as planned first.

2021-08-26_1419 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Now, if you could do any Corbett en route from Greenock to Kinlochewe, in the most superb weather, chances are you wouldn't select Meall Dubh, a rather non-descript lump surrounded by a wind farm on the right of the T junction from Invergarry to Kintail. But I had routed it out, to include a Simm, and I thought I would just continue with the plan. I made use of the wind farm tracks in my route, which means you have only about 1km without track to the summit rather than a traipse over boggy/tussocky ground approaching from elsewhere. It does add on a few kilometres, but I wasn't caring. There's a lay-by across from the wind farm entrance and I set off, having changed into my shorts given the sun was blisteringly hot, at around 2.30. The drive up had been frustratingly slow - the White Slugs of the road in profusion including a particularly frustrating one that wouldn't drive above 35mph and wouldn't pull over to let the ever growing queue behind I'm pass by - and also some oddities: a man in a recumbent bike covered in a capsule near Fort William; a tall guy with a big rucksack pushing another guy in a wheelchair along the road on Rannoch Moor. Just thinking about how scary that must have been, and how dangerous made me grue. I needed some fast paced walking to calm down...

Not a great deal to say about this walk - surprisingly enough there were no other hillwalkers encountered, although there were quite a few workies driving down in vans from the turbines. As I gained height the Loch Quoich and Loch Arkaig hills presented themselves, with a bit of blue haze. It really was very hot indeed. I summited my Simm, which was just beside the track then followed the road to the turbine below Druim nan Eun. There's a fence line to follow to the summit of Meall Dubh, with a deer track, so didn't even encounter tussocks there. The easiest way I've done this particular hill. Going down wasn't so clever - I went a bit too directly north, spotting a track, but this was actually for a hydro scheme and I should have gone a bit more NE to join the track where I wanted to go. Even here it wasn't too wet underfoot, and I rejoined the track I'd intended without much problem. I returned to the car, had some Huel and a coffee, then started the drive up to Kinlochewe.

Meall Dubh
Image1EB257BB-C493-4071-B338-CCF30A1FF0EE_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageA5E8BF21-C3BE-46DD-8F03-CDBE3431247E_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageE6A1B24B-0816-4963-91EE-67046B0B6CEE_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageB816CBF7-E28B-4FDF-ADA2-FC804D159E54_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Beinn Loinne looking almost surrounded by water
Image00270269-C1C3-4E4D-A1FC-6113F3511E8D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageE38DA2C6-2FDB-4B20-9152-EA8697066FB1_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageFFB87ADF-367A-43D8-B9F0-C0A4E7F7E74F_1_100_o by Al, on Flickr

It was a glorious evening, with the sinking sun staining the sky orange as I drove down towards Loch Maree. Craig and Allison had been enjoying good weather all week - lucky sods! We spoke about what to do the following day, settling on Spidean Coire nan Clach and the two eastern Tops of Beinn Eighe, via the Black Carls. I'd done these before, but in winter, with a guide as part of a winter mountaineering course - apart from one slightly tricky move at the end, I couldn't remember there being much problem with them. So I went off to bed feeling not too anxious.

2021-08-27_0905 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

A fabulous morning beckoned - there had been an inversion early on, but by the time we left the cottage and walked along the nature trail path Beinn Eighe was looking beautiful in the blue sky. It's quite something to be able to walk to a mountain like this from your front door - Kinlochewe wouldn't be the worst place in the world to live...The nature reserve was looking fine and we crossed over the Allt a'Chuirn without mishap. By this time I was starting to feel apprehensive about what lay ahead, and imagined I was like Isaac being led up the mountain by his father to his doom. Note to self - this isn't helpful self talk :wink:
We got to the summit of Creag Dhubh after what seemed a very long time and looked out at the pinnacles, which had gone from being slight irregularities in the mountain ridge, harmless and untroubling, to being ferocious knobbles over which I would have to drag my reluctant body, all the time knowing that the last one, with its "10 metre wall" was the worst one.

Image0CA7736D-50EC-40E3-894B-43C8D69F9C9C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

You can just see the Black Carls, looking sweet from here
Image75F1450B-661F-46A5-91B5-807715CF80B3_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageB2DC2796-CD63-4B3D-AAF3-247B9FEB0B38_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Not quite so sweet and innocent now...
Image9B5A050C-4953-4966-9D49-9F299841D67B_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

A truly great hill
Image821AAE33-3493-447B-91A5-57E772545A6A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Fair Dhuibe and Sgurr Ban
ImageE6A9F2B8-4200-4FF2-AAB3-5762195A0168_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageEBF98EA6-D476-4D63-A37E-C04D6DD71DF7_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

I made use of the gorgeous views around me to distract myself from what lay ahead, as we set off along the crest of the ridge for the first obstacle. And it was alright :D In fact I actually quite enjoyed the experience of going along the ridge. Good blocks of stone in the necessary places, handholds you could trust...I told myself I was able to do this, I'd done it before, I could make it along. When we came to the final pinnacle I did have a dry mouth. If memory serves, last time I went straight up the face, but then I was on a rope and had axe and crampons out. We looked at one possible way up on our left, didn't fancy it much, then another, easier looking line, just a little further to our left offered itself. And was easy enough to climb. Quickly, we found ourselves on the Top of Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe, where there were 4 ladies taking photos - they'd climbed directly up from the road. Apparently that's a route in the SMC book. We ate lunch, me feeling majorly relieved, then set off for Sgurr Ban. The descent's a bit bouldery, but otherwise alright. Neither of us had done the section from here to Spidean Coire nan Clach, but there's a clear path and no difficulties whatsoever.

Image36693C48-A99E-40FD-B8C5-8DA5C2B6D85D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageFBD191AD-DFF9-4447-A95D-71FE248039FD_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image1EA06927-E275-409B-B1BF-F2CC9C9C6C58_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

The final block
ImageE92AAAFA-E17C-408B-A7EE-D4FA2F2D6E17_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageC8613637-1B36-4627-9694-C783C63BBA18_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageB8A3D922-833C-4F68-BB98-DF72AE5562DF_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Looking back on the Carls
Image0B3A989D-128C-4833-926A-5DF338DBB349_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Summit Sgurr Ban
Image52C0722B-0E9F-4279-873B-C91DBFA36ACA_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

When we got to the Munro summit there were quite a lot of folk milling around. Allison was talking to a guy who was looking over at Liathach with trepidation - he didn't like ridges or exposure, but his wife was much more comfortable with them. The heat was considerable, the views breathtaking and we reckoned it would be a shame not to continue on to Ruadh Stac Mor when we had opportunity. On the way down we passed a couple of guys on their way up - after passing us one (Chris) turned round and called out hi to "the Weasels" - I don't think we'e ever been name checked in that way on the hills before, but we like it :D We took the usual route via Coinneach Mhor, stopping off at the Top which presides over the Triple Buttress and Fuselage Gully. On our way back to do Ruadh-Stac Mor we met the man and his wife, who were planning to head off the hill from Coinneach Mhor...as far as I know both routes off from there (down Fuselage Gully or across the 'bad step" to Sail Mhor) are quite fierce, and maybe not the best if you don't like ridges? Anyway that's where they went. We continued on the the second Munro - and discussed our return options...I didn't fancy the scree run down into Coire Mhic Fhearchair and a significantly longer walk back round the west of the mountain - we decided to head back to Spidean Coire nan Clach and go down the Coire an Laoigh route (4 miles less), despite this adding on some ascent. On the way back I found a bypass route along the eastern side of Coinneach Mhor that probably saves 50m ascent - Allison didn't notice I'd gone off that way til she'd got to the top of Coinneach Mhor. We were both out of water by this time, having drained our supplies due to the heat of the day. I was having daydreams about iced drinks...

Image68C9FDA3-A45C-4183-8A41-DF7967055C83_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

That brooding old beast, Liathach
Image06DEC0C1-BE03-488C-A077-5D5E99F677D1_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image8E35364E-9CA3-4E84-AF58-3B6514E0E728_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageC23FA889-C692-4DCE-8E27-4A5E9D037CAF_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image5B58288F-D69A-4D88-B258-70B95042F9C5_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Ruadh-Stac Mor
ImageCC1B8BDA-045B-499F-BA18-64FD91B51ABF_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image7782D677-C358-4E01-9B11-5DA34BE220BC_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

The descent down into Coire an Laoigh is pretty eroded at the top section and needs a bit of care - restoration work needed here please. We were able to top up our water from the stream, which was welcome. We got back to the car park, but were, of course, walking back to the cottage. Five hot miles along the road, with a fair amount of traffic on it. And as we neared Kinlochewe, midges to contend with too. An almost 11 hour day, but a good one, and my spirits were lifted a bit of the old confidence front.

Image12DBE83B-AF88-4034-9639-30DB6E5E5149_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageE0AB2500-0B45-4B56-93A4-377CFCFB1D04_1_100_o by Al, on Flickr

2021-08-28_1139 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I was having issues with my GPS - we didn't just materialise 600m up the hillside, I promise :lol:

Saturday morning - all the hills were hiding under a cloud. We'd agreed to do Spidean a'Choire Leith, along with the two eastern Tops, on Liathach today, having previously done Mullach an Rathain on its own when doing Meall Dearg and the Northern Pinnacles. I was sure I could cope with just half of Liathach. Car park was full by the time we pitched up after clearing out the cottage, and we had to park a bit down the road. I mused how different the glen looked with mist hiding all the mountains, although occasional glimpses of brighter light from above made me wonder if we'd get an inversion, or if the cloud would at least burn off by the time we got up. The path up is enjoyable, and we met a guy on his way down who told us there was an inversion, with the whole ridge poking through...up we went with a little more spring in the step and sure enough, after about 800m we broke through into sunlight. At the narrow bealach you reach which splits to go east to the Top or west to the ridge we had Brocken Spectres- this was the first place we'd ever seen them, so it was nice to have that encounter again. The summit of Stuc a'Choire Dhiubh Bhig was a wonderful viewpoint for the inversion over Beinn Eighe and, of course, the western ridge of Liathach doesn't look bad from here (because you can't see any of the pinnacles :wink: ). We lunched, drinking in the superb scenes, talking to an English guy who'd come over from the east coast in the hope of catching this inversion.

Mist down as we set off up the hill
Image4E247528-8F44-47EB-B083-1C7C8B985B4F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image1F1C8D30-39AD-42A1-B1A4-5D5D6703930C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageD5497CF9-702A-426A-BE98-672BDD322835_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageC0C0969C-13D2-463E-A53B-3669D3FB6070_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image7DB2363A-F490-48BB-8DD7-6C826B613FC3_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Stuc a Choire Dhuibh Bhig
Image3C50CDD9-5075-47AC-BBD7-6EB770A182B1_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageB50CDD07-2125-45F7-8275-C21DDC573211_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Continuing with our mission we returned to the main ridge and went over the first Top. My memory of the section to the first Munro is of nothing challenging, but there were narrow places and lots of angular boulders to overcome before we could set foot on Spidean a'Choire Leith and "even up" the blue balloons on Liathach. We stood there quite a time. I knew Allison would want to do the full ridge, and part of me wanted that too. Looking down into the amphitheater of the Am Fasarinen pinnacles, holding the cloud like a huge bowl of soup, I wasn't sure...but then I knew if I didn't try it I'd be back at square one as regards my mindset on mountain fear. So, after thinking long and hard, I said Yes, well go for it.

ImageE105ABA7-07A9-4A2F-80CA-03A353C3699B_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image119D926D-524A-42EC-9756-0637A6235740_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image284631D8-D018-4614-8CFF-17C99D0D450D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Those pinnacles...
Image56C1D387-1EA4-4509-B6A3-B7D38A97DCA6_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Spidean a'Choire Leith
Image8FBF9EE9-F248-49ED-B20D-9CBA90ED415B_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageF1B0EAA3-904A-4DDA-84C5-4C8AEF96B27F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Am Fasarinen
Image51573AEA-930A-44E2-B7FF-217D07ED7962_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We didn't get off to the best start - I took what looked like the path off the NW side of the summit, whereas the WH route goes over the boulders on the NE side. The path I'd chosen was very sandy and loose, with a rather uncomfortable drop below. I took my time. Whilst gingerly descending, I noticed a group of folk on the bypass path round the first pinnacle - they seemed to be there for a very long time and I wondered if someone had become frozen to the spot, unable to go on or back. By the time we got to the narrow bealach before the first pinnacle, there were only a couple of guys left, one who came up to us and told us a woman had had a slip and hurt her ribs - nothing to be done, MRT were on their way and they didn't want or need any additional help. This guy had just come over Meall Dearg and the Northern Pinnacles, having watched various videos on Youtube including one with a "auld wifie of 45 or 50 doing them"...he was talking to an auld wifie of just that age (and a much older manny) and indeed didn't look much shy of that age himself, unless he'd had a particularly tough paper round.

ImageF21115E1-55C1-44FC-8C8E-71C370841452_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image2EC534E0-9214-4377-BACB-0A00F4A5285D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageC8320696-B25C-4FCA-AEB6-6570378F92EA_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image4F27E32C-A708-4B46-81AB-365EC07D3A2A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

So on we went down towards the first pinnacle. Allison had a mildly hairy moment on a down climb before we reached it, which made her a bit jelly legged, although it didn't trouble me much - recognising that if she'd fallen there she'd only have gone down a couple of feet without danger of slipping off the mountainside. We got to the first pinnacle, although I avoided the very narrow exposed slab I remembered having done first time round, I was fairly pleased with how I was managing so far. I had banished negative self talk like "you can't do this" "you're going to slip" "you're going to die" and replaced it with "You can do this, you've been over here before, lots of people do this mountain without problems, find the footholds, and the handholds, they're there"
Whilst we were scrambling over, we could hear the guy who was with the casualty on the phone to MR, which was a bit odd - he was just below us, sheltered in a nook on the upper bypass path.

Helicopter coming in for rescue
Image389A37D1-15D3-4825-BBC8-3159DA7B49E5_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We continued on, taut but with some sense of enjoyment. We hadn't got much further along before we heard the sound of the helicopter coming in - they were quick!! The aircraft hovered for a short period, then flew off for a couple of circuits of Glen Torridon, having presumably dropped off a medic +/- a stretcher, and it came back shortly after to pick the casualty up. By this time the mist had risen and was obscuring the pinnacle she was underneath, but it didn't seem much of a hurdle for the MR team. We felt very impressed with the way they'd responded and made a mental note to make a donation to Torridon MRT - with that sense that it could easily be you...

Image25103007-4F5C-45F2-9350-E8C42AF04474_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image566AC147-FA79-4CD2-8505-8572F679FC42_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Meall Dearg and the Northern Pinnacles
ImageD47DC58A-C367-4F13-A1F9-A2DE8EC07069_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageFEF17890-8764-428D-8416-7494A3106FA2_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image28EB4839-511A-4CBF-A6D0-4C282C29D70C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We continued on our way - there were a couple of squeaky moments where anxiety came up, especially on the climb up to the highest pinnacle where there was an awkward looking shabby rock to be climbed without great looking holds...but I kept my cool and moved out to my right, where there were great hand holds and got up. Again, positive self talk, not looking at the drop, made a difference. Having reached the summit of Am Fasarinen I knew it was all plain sailing from here on, and breathed a big sigh of relief and exhilaration. I'm very quiet when about to do scary stuff, but become quite garrulous, I think, after it's all over. I'd done Liathach - this time without a posse of (slightly) more experienced mates or a guide on a course. At the top of Mullach an Rathain we were caught up by a guy from Durham, who'd picked a good few days to take on holiday, having high camped on Am Bodach and done the Aonach both ways earlier in the week. He was loving the experience of Liathach, saying the pinnacles reminded him of something from Peru - which I've thought too...that scene that opens Herzog's Aguirre, Wrath of God where the natives are transporting the Spanish invaders down from Machu Picchu.

Image8F2B8E4C-7C1B-4EEC-B506-E24AE6A6D2AE_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

The path down has been improved considerably from our last visit (which was about 6 years ago) and we came off the hill in high spirits. We camped in the trees near the foot of the hill, the official campsite being rammed full. Midges were bad, but otherwise a quiet evening - no camper vans turning up to haunt us with rave music. However, neither of us slept well, feeling sticky and sweaty in the close air.

Sunday was a breezier morning, cooler than the last few days, but the skies were still blue and gave promise of another fine day. We had options as to what to do - there were the Munro Tops of Sail Mhor and Meall Dearg, but the latter was maybe pushing my new found confidence a little too far. Best plan, psychologically, was to consolidate the gains of the last two days by doing something with a bit of challenge, but not too much. The Horns of Alligin should fulfil this requirement, as well as providing me with another 2 Munros for my third round. Allison has been up Alligin four times before, but - with it being her favourite mountain and all - wasn't complaining about another time around. We drove along to the Mhic Nobhaill carpark, which was already quite busy and prepared to set off. Which way round? I decided I would be better to do the Horns first and be able to relax for the Munros. I recalled we'd set off one icy morning, on the only clear day of a week we'd spent in Kinlochewe doing Grahams, to try the Horns but had to turn tail when it got a little too hairy in the snowy/icy conditions. None of those fears today though, it was still warm.

2021-08-29_0834 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Image8EAF9CC1-7577-490B-B836-E314A4371753_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image96FA2B87-9BB4-4416-9A17-8EA6F09B89F9_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We passed along the riverside noting clouds sitting on the the surrounding tops, but not on Alligin. Up to the lower section of An t-Sail Bheg and the easy scrambling begins. As we progressed over the Horns themselves we managed to find some more challenging options than we had intended, but again it was all good for the overall plan of testing myself out within the limits of comfort - there were always other options that could be taken. At the highest Horn we met a couple of girls we'd seen the day before on Liathach - they'd waited up on Mullach an Rathain to see the sunset, but been chased off by midges and keds.

Another important part of feeling more comfortable scrambling is trust in your boots - replacing my worn out Mammuts of last week with my grippy pair of Arcteryx
Image0A5A9A38-A1F6-48FC-99D6-A918BB4AE690_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image74E75422-5080-4CC6-8833-CC6C9EC2F184_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageCC576029-3D9D-4744-A029-E8436C34D212_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image148A98FB-4FC4-4C62-BE9F-904129609742_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We continued up the stony slopes of Sgurr Mhor, enjoying the fine views of Baosbheinn and Beinn an Eoin - I also spotted two summits to the south of Loch a'Bhealaich that appeared to be Simms - must check them out sometime :) We lunched at the summit of Sgurr Mhor, where we were quickly joined by a number of folk that had come up from the opposite direction, one party with a drone - great day for drone shots, I imagine. We met more folk as we continued along to Tom na Gruagaich - a Welch lass with her lovely Welsh collie and an Eastern European sounding couple who asked how bad the Horns were. After we'd given a reply the guy started to warn us to take care on the section heading up to the summit of Tom which were "very tricky". I said to him that The Horns were a lot trickier than that, but he laughed and said he hoped not!

Image83BB99A8-57DA-4386-AF9C-EBB1F8F4AA82_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageF95D2D16-3FEF-4084-A1C2-C032C1AF858B_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageD7086313-1760-4706-9B46-50F753D8E90F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageEF39547D-806E-40D8-8854-68C1090DB61B_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageB80AA845-ABBD-4970-9E69-1471D1D5556C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image65E608D6-DA66-4989-A5F1-C0E4E0457219_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We managed to make it up to the top of Tom, watched the clouds starting to come in and began the trek down into Coire nan Laogh. Allison was delighted to see that there's a new path, almost complete, leading down from the summit, which made the descent a good deal more benign than we were anticipating. Always a bonus. There were still folk heading up, including a couple of older gents we'd seen on Beinn Eighe, who were planning a summit camp, having spent the previous night at the top of Slioch. Great spots with this kind of weather :D

ImageEF587FFE-9B47-491E-B461-AA61048BAF9E_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image3F5CD1F8-8141-471B-88F8-067FFEB01D88_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image48EAB78E-D1CD-43DD-9928-479B9E26D24D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

New path
Image162FD2AB-2E9F-4B6E-AB83-2F8A3D336A49_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image0E9EA77D-3F98-429A-8124-046FFCD578C7_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Back at the car we shook out the muscles and prepared for what hopefully would be a stress free journey down the A9 - alas there was nose to tail first gear stuff from Bruar all the way past Dunkeld - I ended up taking the Amulree road out of sheer frustration, having spent 90 minutes driving at about 5 mph. So we didn't get home til almost 10pm, having had an apple and a bag of crisps, plus two squares of chocolate found in the glove compartment to sustain us. But never mind - it was a great weekend and one that hopefully has gone some way in restoring my ability to manage easy scrambles. I did have a re-read of the blog I posted when we did Liathach and Alligin first time round, back in 2013 - and noted how glib I'd been with my description of the scrambling - I don't know if that was how I really felt at the time or how I wanted to feel, but I know there was a time when my fear vs confidence was stacked quite differently from how it has been in recent times. I know I will never have a climber's nerve - I suspect that's something that is in part at least, innate - there's interesting research about the differences in the functioning of the amygdala (part of the brain that processes threat stimuli) in climbers and "normals" - I know which way mine is wired. But I do know that there are simple steps that one can take to improve confidence - I hope those from this lovely weekend persist for me.
Last edited by weaselmaster on Tue Aug 31, 2021 8:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Facing some fears in Torridon

Postby SMRussell » Tue Aug 31, 2021 9:04 am

Superb and well done on emptying the bottle. I love that you consulted with your mum as well!

Those pics of the inversion are sublime :clap:
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Re: Facing some fears in Torridon

Postby R1ggered » Tue Aug 31, 2021 4:07 pm

Great post and fantastic photos. :clap:
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Re: Facing some fears in Torridon

Postby BlackPanther » Tue Aug 31, 2021 6:20 pm

We were on Sgurr Dubh and Sgòrr nan Lochan Uaine on Sunday, fantastic day (well, keds were a bit annoying)!

I remember being very reluctant to climb the Carls last year since Kevin kept teasing me it was a horrifying scramble. Turned out, I absolutely loved the experience. Glad you did, too :D Nothing can beat a good Torridon traverse!
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Re: Facing some fears in Torridon

Postby litljortindan » Sat Sep 11, 2021 10:05 pm

I probably read that you were anxious about scrambling in a previous report but it still came as a surprise in this one. I guess I make an assumption that someone who regularly covers long distances across the hills just takes everything in their stride. I think it is quite healthy to be apprehensive about scrambling though. I don't know if I have any head for it now after a slip in 2013 and subsequent back and hernia problems but I try to do more gradually. Helps to read about someone taking themselves through it!
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Re: Facing some fears in Torridon

Postby Christopher Pulman » Mon Sep 27, 2021 1:57 pm

It was me (and my friend Pete) you passed on the way down Spidean Coire Nan Clach. Took me a few moments to recognise the faces (the celebrities) from Walkhighlands. Your reports are always excellent, especially the photography, and I often use them when researching possible routes.

Glad you enjoyed the Black Carls. We went over them too, but found the rock a bit loose tackling them in descent. We came up via Lawson, Ling and Glover's route on Sail Mhor, which I highly recommend (at least once you are out of the gully with the scree). But some of the scrambling is a bit vertiginous, more so than the Black Carls, although the rock is more secure.
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