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The Sixth Sister

The Sixth Sister

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Oct 17, 2021 10:31 pm

Munros included on this walk: Sgùrr Fhuaran, Sgùrr na Càrnach, Sgùrr na Ciste Duibhe, Sgùrr na Sgìne, The Saddle

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Loinne

Date walked: 17/10/2021

Distance: 61.2 km

Ascent: 3935m

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Oh the last week of Stag Season...with a fair forecast. I decided that we'd head up to Kintail for the long postponed Five Sisters, made good Allison's Munro Top requirements on The Saddle and power about with a Corbett to fill in any gaps in the program. As usual, headed up on Thursday night, rain much of the way. Found our camp spot by the river vacant and set up home for the night - and a rather wet one it was too. There was ice on the rucksack covers in the morning. For Friday, I wanted to do The Sisters then head down into Gleann Lichd, a place that has eluded me so far and camp overnight there. We'd do The Saddle on Saturday if there was time and finish off with one of the Corbetts on Sunday.

2021-10-15_0936 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

That was the plan anyway. I reckoned it would be a relaxed day on Friday - the times before when we'd done The Sisters, we'd continued on to so The Brothers too, so less hill = more time. I did have one caveat - we needed to go over Sgurr na Moraich which sits at the Western end of the Sisters ridge, clearly visible from Morvich and a Simm I've been after for a while. We parked up at the Rangers Station and set off for the usual route up the Sisters, passing a haulage firm with several ancient lorries in a shed. Onto the fine path that leads up by the Allt a'Chruinn - we continued to follow the north side of the river when the WH route suggests crossing over. From memory, the path on the other side of the river is hard to follow in places, whereas the one on the north of the river is pretty good and terminates on the ridge, to the northern side of Beinn Bhuidhe. Anyway, we had to deviate from the path to climb Sgurr na Moraich which involved a lot more ascent than I was anticipating - it's almost a Corbett, lacking in drop by only 13m. Well that was fairly tiring! Having stopped for lunch part of the way up, we walked back to the ridge and enjoyed the views. A light covering of snow on the highest tops - Sgurr Fhuran, Sgurr na Ceathreamnhan. That's the first of the season I've seen.

Image4D3B6163-2AEF-40EC-9C36-69F30B6E58F6_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageB68460C7-29B0-49D0-8C6B-6E002814D3A2_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image763120BE-D1C4-42DB-BB5E-87350FF77DE2_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image8B5CF4BB-478E-4067-A1E8-D22EF3287B82_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

View along the ridge
ImageB6E39CA5-4E46-412F-A997-286CFB403C05_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr na Moraich
Image57C46224-1CFF-4B01-9A03-21879B8BB710_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image5CA61E13-4089-4704-804F-857310C01917_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageF7EE1F7D-5FE2-4D16-A274-D89BC9A89ECC_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Gleann Lichd
ImageC2EA7446-118D-428D-BAB4-F4C13F988689_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Having the big packs on was slowing us down a bit, making some of the little scrambles a mite awkward. But I didn't mind - I expected to be down in Gleann Lichd between 4-5pm. Ha! We didn't get to the summit of Sgurr Fhuran until after 2pm, having met another couple coming the opposite way as we neared the summit, the only other walkers we saw all day. The next two Munros followed in rapid succession however and the question was which way down into Coire Domhain? It's probably easiest to descend from the bealach between Sgurr Carnach and Sgurr na Ciste Dhuibe, but that would have meant missing out on Spainteach so we continued on towards Bealach an Lapain. Which is slabbier than it looks on the map. Keeping to the west coire wall it was OK picking a way down, but one had to watch not to get caught up in tight river gullies. It was after 6pm when we started down and I realised we'd be in darkness by the time we got to the valley floor and had to look for a pitch. Having looked down into Gleann Lichd earlier in the day there seemed to be lots of good spots - I hoped that the reality would match this picture.

Sgurr na Moraich - the Sixth Sister
Image5003BDD6-44E8-4840-9800-662AB5A752D2_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageE3D51D5F-546E-4B89-9C82-D2D7048DAECD_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image02854E53-06B9-4CF2-954F-0F6D341CFB53_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageEA2BE508-A251-4998-AD7F-ACAAA3360F3A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr na Ciste Dhuibe
ImageB01BDFBC-CEA9-411D-BD01-52831706F4F9_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Heading down into Coire Domhain
ImageBBDA7786-037D-417A-AC30-23DC155A0119_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Eventually we crossed the Allt an Lapain, easier than feared, and picked up the rough path that joins the Affric-Kintail Way. It was pretty dark by this time - we passed by the (locked) Glenlicht House and cast around for somewhere to pitch, finally finding an acceptable spot amongst the sheep near the river. Didn't get our meal til after 7.30pm. We saw a couple of folk coming from Morvich with head torches on - not sure where they ended up - maybe they had keys for Glenlicht House. It rained a lot overnight and when I peered outside at around 8am it was wet and claggy, so I saw no rush to get up. We had the whole of the glen to walk out, so I didn\t think we'd have nearly enough time to do The Saddle today.

Glenlicht House
Image447CA1E0-CAF9-44B5-A412-E92A802265E5 by Al, on Flickr

Morning view - after the sun has risen
Image7C752C47-B7E0-4ED7-9FDF-37CA96779BAF_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

By the time we did set off, the sun had broken through the mist and it was shaping up to be a rather nice day. We passed a large raven eating an equally large mushroom...who'd have thought it? I was loth to waste the good weather doing something small and Allison seemed still to be keen on doing The Saddle. The path up Gleann Lichd was fairly good, although increasingly waterlogged as Morvich was neared. We were back at the car by 10.30. I would have liked another hour for what lay ahead, but I thought we might be just about OK for time if we didn't dilly dally.

Image6DC4B95C-C8B5-49C5-8263-2E3AEF471652_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Gleann Lichd
ImageEF8011E7-2145-4C80-A691-6806EC7331C6_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image99366490-8066-4626-8147-737A49962A1D by Al, on Flickr

2021-10-16_1050 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Parked up at the standard beginning point for The Saddle and started out on the stalkers path. Allison surprised me by opting for a shortcut up Coire Mhalagain that she remembered our guide using when we did The Forcan Ridge in winter. Pathless tussocks instead of paved track? what next?? Anyway it did save a bit of time as we'd gained on the two folk we'd seen ahead of us. Was I looking forward to scrambling the Forcan? Well not that much after the first section, where we found the rock was unpleasantly wet and slippy. This was the third time I'd done the Ridge - the first in dry summer conditions (great) the second in full winter conditions (great with a guide) and today was the least enjoyable. We bypassed quite a lot of sections as a result.

ImageDCD80A2F-363C-4519-82A4-4F38C46D095A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Yesterday's hills
Image6ED6C92C-C8B3-401E-AA79-7D8EAFF4A1E5_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageF2ADD3DE-EBF1-44A9-9902-EDEFCCB28E01_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image2722BCBF-7A07-469B-87A5-A463BF7F9AFA_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image0A40B2A2-B685-4D93-BFEB-F18993C8AE2D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image5772F397-89B6-4B31-BCED-D6C6416F69D3_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We reached the summit at just after 2pm. We had the two Tops to go out-and-back to - I reckoned this would take about 2 hours, which left just under 3 hours for Sgurr na Sgine and descent. Should be alright... The Tops are easier done west to east and I wasn't particularly enjoying bits of the walk out to them either, with the added pressure of time against the onset of darkness. But we got there and we got back. The descent to bealach Coire Mhalagain isn't one of my favourite ones - boulders and boggy sections and took longer than I'd hoped for. The path up from the loch an to Sgurr na Sgine was quite eroded in places and again took longer than I'd desired - it was 5.15 when we got to the 880m point in the centre of the ridge. I had planned to descend off Faochag, and having done this once before reckoned it would be OK as long as we got past the initial steep section when it was still light. Would we have time? Out to the summit of Sgurr na Sgine and back to the 880m point - 6pm. Dark falls at 6.45 and it'll take another 10 mins at least to get to the top of Faochag...should we just go down the way we'd come up and follow the wall back to the stalkers path from Meallan Odhar? Allison left it to me - I decided we should be alright on Faochag, go for it.

ImageE3B6F8B9-25C0-4F07-A342-837E6367C45E_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image32B2D297-F57D-409A-A50B-2BFC8D76F4A8_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image4FAE984D-9EAF-4D22-98EF-C017EC88F146_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr na Sgine
Image6A531009-5F28-4CB6-ADDA-CC9BDA4D2296_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageDF8B37C5-691F-45CF-A94F-C85D3C1A5BF8_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Although it looks extremely steep, the descent from Faochaig is alright...even in fading light. We got down to around 600m before we had to resort to head torches. The rain, which had been on for several hours now, got heavier, and it was a real joy descending a weaving path, badly eroded in places, under these conditions. I had the WH route in my GPS, which doesn't follow the stalkers path accurately, that was another minor concern. But we were going in the right direction - we could see cars on the main road flashing through the rain and mist. There's a craggy section near the bottom of the track that needed some care in the dark, a very dodgy stile over the deer fence and then the pathless traverse to find the footbridge. Fortunately the bridge seemed in better order than the stile, although it was one of those ones with no sides, just gently sloping planks over a drop and a gushing river. Even then we weren't finished, we had to follow the path through chest high bracken before coming out onto the side of the road. 8pm by the time we reached the car, wet and hungry.

Dodgy stile
Image1A8F208A-42B6-4103-AC2F-7907216A3C37 by Al, on Flickr

Image9C8BDE9F-9315-4557-87CD-8BBBF7D2B8C1 by Al, on Flickr

I crossed my fingers that our spot near the river would be free - it was Saturday night, but it was also pouring and lets face it, who camps out on nights like these? My prayers were answered and we unpacked our wet tent, in the rain, to pitch it once again by the river. 9pm and we finally got our tea. It had been an anxious day - about the Forcan Ridge, about the Tops, about getting down in the dark. An extra libation of Laphroaig was called for.

2021-10-17_1000 Raw.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Yet another wet night. I checked the forecast, which promised a dry day after 9am. No rush to get up then! Allison was achy after all the ascent of the last two days, my arms/sholders were a bit sore after the hands on stuff yesterday. A nice easy Corbett today, I think? I gave her a choice - 1. Hill of Horror (No!) 2.Sgurr MhicBarraich (No - too steep) or 3. Beinn Loinne (OK). We packed up and drove along to the Cluanie knowing that about half of the 18k for this one was on road (yes, I know the other 50% is trackless bog). But the road seemed an attractive proposition. Cloud was down over all the hilltops, autumn colours were in the trees and for some reason the estate seems to be growing Rhododendrons in a fenced off section...I may have mis-identified them, but they looked like Rhodies...have they not seen what happened down at Loch Quoich with Rhodies gone wild?? We left the nice road after about 5km and set off across the swathes of trackless bog making for a hill we couldn't see because of cloud. After a bit I stopped for lunch and discovered I hadn't brought the Jetboil...so no coffee. The little things that smooth the day are important, and a hot cup of coffee (as opposed to a cold drink of water) would have been a little uplift. The ground wasn't actually as wet as I had expected and we got onto Druim na Cnamh without much trouble. Back the same way, more or less in the mist and back to the road. Car at 3pm and a smooth drive down the road, until we got into Greenock and my brakes seized...

Image93FA0DCE-E95B-444C-9900-C3FE2F2A82F3_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image224F9596-73B0-4EE3-8DA3-4B3E5BF28D5F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image5BC55CEF-4958-4BA4-8028-02B1390F09C2_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Very happy with my new Paramo Alta jacket
ImageE1598CCA-2294-4285-BD6B-4A62F1091818_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image711B76D6-2C67-48A4-B9AD-ADDE5546DFCC by Al, on Flickr

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Hill Bagger
Posts: 2027
Munros:254   Corbetts:102
Grahams:111   Donalds:86
Sub 2000:383   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: The Sixth Sister

Postby rockhopper » Sun Oct 17, 2021 11:00 pm

Challenging conditions but a good result nonetheless - think you deserved your extra Laphroaig - cheers :)
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Posts: 6952
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:75   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:10   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: May 31, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: The Sixth Sister

Postby R1ggered » Mon Oct 18, 2021 7:05 am

Great report. You sure have your fitness levels up to speed since lifting lockdown. :clap:
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Posts: 93
Joined: Nov 28, 2012

Re: The Sixth Sister

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Oct 18, 2021 12:54 pm

R1ggered wrote:Great report. You sure have your fitness levels up to speed since lifting lockdown. :clap:

It’s been good discipline for me to get the miles in. Especially the ascent. I was looking back at stats for the last few years and I’ve done half the distance and half the ascent that I did in 2018. Part of that was lockdown months, and I guess there’s still 2.5 months in this year left. Fitness has definitely picked up since Apr/May but I’m sure age is kicking in the opposing direction 😆
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Hill Bagger
Posts: 2027
Munros:254   Corbetts:102
Grahams:111   Donalds:86
Sub 2000:383   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

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