walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

It took us how long!?

It took us how long!?


Postby jakeyboy » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:44 pm

Route description: Maol Chean-dearg ascent, Coulags

Munros included on this walk: Maol Chean-dearg

Date walked: 18/07/2011

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 950m

2 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Hurrah!! July, and two weeks holidays to do what I like!! And my pal Laura has three weeks! So, I feel a selection of climbs/walks looming ahead. So we sit and plan, and converse, and reminisce, and eventually we decide a Corbett will do for the first outing. Considering Laura hasn't done anything for the past month or more, and although I've been pretty active climbing Grahams and a Corbett, I haven't climbed a Munro in 4 years and Laura reckons it's been at least 2 since she climbed one. So a good Corbett is required for now. After much deliberation, we plump for An Ruadh-stac with Glen Carron looking the best bet weather-wise.

Now, knowing Laura, and remembering that she has signed up to do The Great Highland challenge next month. I reckon that deep down she'd prefer to do a Munro, and as I feel I should now also be ready for something a little more strenuous, I have another look on the walkhighlands site for something fitting. Lo and behold, right next to An Ruadh-stac, there's the solution!! Maol Chean-dearg, a Munro!! So after checking the details, route, time taken etc, and printing out the notes from the site, I let Laura know that that's our goal for the morning's outing, and she's pleased as punch!

8:00 am
After a few false starts on Laura's part, we eventually meet at Tore filling station. Laura leaves her car here, and after a quick coffee, we set off for Glen Carron. Following my notes, we get to the car parking area at Coulags and proceed to ready ourselves for the day's hike! After various checks and re-checks of equipment and supplies etc we set off.

10:00 am
It's a beautiful day, and although this is a later start than I would have preferred, we're off!
DSCF1197.JPG
The view ahead


The stalker's path is easy going and although parts are pretty boggy due to recent rain, there are no problems to speak of. We are both surprised though, at how long it seems to take to reach the bridge over the river, and even farther on, the Coire Fionnaraich Bothy. Glad to have reached it at last we decide to stop here for something to eat. Feeling rested, we head back out along the river until we reach the cairn marking the fork in the path. It's really quite warm by now, and Laura makes the first of what turns out to be several changes to her wardrobe. :D
DSCF1207.JPG
We reach the bridge
DSCF1222.JPG
The well maintained bothy


As Laura changes, I take the opportunity to review the notes and survey the route ahead. The path does indeed zig-zag, and as ever, doesn't look to be too difficult a prospect. Easy to follow right to the bealach. We set off again admiring the surrounding landscape as we progressed ever upward. It's very easy to forget the vastness of these areas when you only ever see the edges of them from the road. I always find myself feeling sorry for the millions of tourists who never even see the hidden glens and lochs of our truly beautiful homeland. As we neared the bealach, we could just make out the silhouettes of a pair of climbers on the upper slopes of An Ruadh-stac, and a little further on we spotted another couple on the summit approach of Maol Chean-dearg. Although our progress had been steady enough up the stalker's path, we had several rest stops, but when we finally reached the bealach we spent a good while photographing and admiring the craggy majesty of An Ruadh-stac, the towering goliath of Beinn Damh in the distance and the stunning vistas in all directions, before tackling the energy-sapping clamber up the quartzite scree-strewn and fairly unclear path.
DSCF1236.JPG
The target looms
DSCF1267.JPG
Looking back from the bealach


Photo opportunities abounded on the approach to the final ascent, and we met a few fellow climbers who were heading back down. As the views opened out, we became even more aware of the time it had already taken us to get this far, and I found myself repeatedly checking and re-checking my notes for any discrepancies. I found none. 5 - 7 hours was the time given, although I couldn't help noticing that the time quoted for An Ruadh-stac was 5.5 - 7 hours, and the ascent for it was also given as greater than that of Maol Chean-dearg. I wondered if that had any bearing on our situation. Shrugging it off again after more discussion, we plowed onwards to the horrible boulder-strewn final ascent, before which we opted for further rest and refreshment. As we sat looking up at this big bald red head, we couldn't establish which was the best route to take, and eventually decided that it didn't really matter, since the only way was up, and a pathway through the boulders was very unlikely. It was a daunting prospect at this point, but as we picked our way over the boulders it was surprisingly soon that the summit cairn came into view. Exhausted but in good spirits, we headed towards the cairn, marveling all the way at the emerging vistas around us!
DSCF1277.JPG
An Ruadh-stac on the left with Beinn Damh to the right!
DSCF1300.JPG
The steep scree section
DSCF1313.JPG
Checking the view of Loch Coire An Ruadh-staic


4:30 pm
The usual picture frenzy ensued at the summit, and we both thanked God for the good weather we'd had all the way here, since there were heavy clouds all around in the distance and obvious rainclouds not that far away. Checking the time, we realised that this ascent had taken us 6.5 hours. That was more like the time we might have given ourselves for the round trip going by the notes from this very site. I didn't get it, we hadn't stopped that often really, not long enough to warrant doubling the predicted time. Again, we simply had no choice but to shrug it off and enjoy the fantastic scenery which was now spread out before us in all directions. Laura recalled an abandoned attempt at climbing the now partly cloud-obscured Liathach, while I related a superb ascent of Beinn Eighe I'd completed some years back. The horns of Alligin loomed through the dark distant clouds as we topped up with food and drink at the foot of the summit cairn. Shortly we began our descent.
DSCF1319.JPG
The welcome sight of the summit cairn!
DSCF1345.JPG
Just one view from the summit!
DSCF1354.JPG
The horns of alligin in the distance


As descents go, I have to admit that the bouldered dome here, was a very punishing one. Especially for Laura who landed on her backside quite a number of times. My knees and feet were very obvious casualties too, by the time we reached the scree section. I found this part less of a problem than Laura, who fell behind me by quite a bit and again fell several times although no damage was incurred, least of all to her spirits which remained as bouyant as ever. Once back at the bealach, having rested a bit, we took a deep breath and set off back down the long zig-zag path stopping only to recharge our water bottles. Once back on level ground, we headed for the bothy and some well deserved rest and respite.
DSCF1369.JPG
Laura descending the scree


Both Laura and myself were suffering with our feet so it was a great relief to remove our boots once inside the bothy. Laura had applied blister plasters from my first aid kit, to her feet during the climb, whilst I praised the favourite socks I was wearing as the best I'd ever had. Those same socks now, with boots removed, were completely worn through at the heels!! Laura re-adjusted the plasters on her feet, and when we both felt adequately rested, it was time for the final push back to the car.

The wind had got up by now, and it was a little chilly. Still thankfully, though clouds continued to gather ominously, no rain. Tired and weary, we trudged the last portion of our trek back to the car park.

9:00 pm
Back at the car, as we changed our socks and boots and gathered our belongings etc, for the return journey, we were besieged by midges!! Swarms of the little buggers appeared to have been waiting for just such an arrival of human flesh to feast on! Quickly, we got ourselves together enough to make good our escape, leaving the midges far behind us. As I drove along, we discussed the events of the day. It had been a successful outing, we'd bagged another Munro. My first in four years, (less than three since my heart bypass) and Laura's first in at least two. We were indeed, pleased with ourselves. Still we couldn't help but wonder how, from start to finish, this jaunt had taken us a total of 11 hours! :shock:

Prior to writing this report, I made a point of reviewing every report on the ascent of Maol Chean-dearg that I could find, on this and other climbing/walking/Munro sites. Times taken ranged from the highly unlikely Cameron McNeish claim of 3 - 5 hours to the more usual claims of between 5 and 7 hours, with just one claiming 10 hours but from the alternative approach from Annat. Laura and I had concluded that the report times quoted must have been just for the ascent, since the walk heading on the site states "Maol Chean-dearg ascent, Coulags" in which case, it took us 6.5 hours and that's what it says on this report. Anyone whom can enlighten me otherwise is welcome. I'd appreciate the input.

Conclusion
This was a fantastic day out. We both really enjoyed it and were chuffed with the achievement. It was a lot tougher than we were led to believe from the route guide on walkhighlands though, especially the final ascent, which was unexpectedly tough and downright punishing in both directions! The views throughout and ultimately from the summit were as ever, worth the time and effort.
User avatar
jakeyboy
Wanderer
 
Posts: 68
Munros:11   Corbetts:3
Grahams:4   
Joined: Sep 9, 2010
Location: Nairn

Re: It took us how long!?

Postby Alan S » Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:42 pm

A fine report there :D
Like the pic of you checking out the view 8)
User avatar
Alan S
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1461
Munros:207   Corbetts:4
Grahams:3   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:4   
Islands:12
Joined: Nov 10, 2008
Location: Stirlingshire
Walk wish-list

Re: It took us how long!?

Postby rockhopper » Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:59 pm

Enjoyed that jakeyboy - cartianly a long day ! :D

jakeyboy wrote:Anyone whom can enlighten me otherwise is welcome. I'd appreciate the input.

Opening the gpx in WHGPSplanner / maps-the-hug suggests a length there and back of 15.5km and ascent of 1,011m (WH walk page says slightly less - 14km/950m). Assuming 4.5km/hr on level plus 600m/hr ascent, suggests just over 5hrs in total . Some use 4km/hr, WH uses 5km/hr so I tend to use 4.5. You'd need to add time for stops, food etc to the 5hrs - maybe why WH suggests 5-7hrs 8)
User avatar
rockhopper
 
Posts: 6401
Munros:282   Corbetts:207
Grahams:60   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:8   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: May 31, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: It took us how long!?

Postby jakeyboy » Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:24 pm

rockhopper wrote:Enjoyed that jakeyboy - cartianly a long day ! :D

jakeyboy wrote:Anyone whom can enlighten me otherwise is welcome. I'd appreciate the input.

Opening the gpx in WHGPSplanner / maps-the-hug suggests a length there and back of 15.5km and ascent of 1,011m (WH walk page says slightly less - 14km/950m). Assuming 4.5km/hr on level plus 600m/hr ascent, suggests just over 5hrs in total . Some use 4km/hr, WH uses 5km/hr so I tend to use 4.5. You'd need to add time for stops, food etc to the 5hrs - maybe why WH suggests 5-7hrs 8)


Cheers rockhopper!! It was a long and tiring day, but we both loved every minute. I guess we're just slowcoaches :lol:
User avatar
jakeyboy
Wanderer
 
Posts: 68
Munros:11   Corbetts:3
Grahams:4   
Joined: Sep 9, 2010
Location: Nairn

2 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).



Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 40 guests