Herr Flick up on Ciste Dhubh
by BlackPanther » Mon Oct 10, 2011 1:57 pm
Route description: Ciste Dhubh and Am Bathach, Cluanie
Munros included on this walk: Ciste Dhubh
Corbetts included on this walk: Am Bathach
Date walked: 28/09/2011
Time taken: 6 hours
Distance: 13.1 km
Ascent: 1093m7 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).
It was a windy Wednesday but at last, after long waiting, the western side of Highlands was forecast to be cloud-free. We considered tackling the Five Sisters for a moment but as I still wasn't sure how my injured knee recovered, we finally picked a shorter route in Glen Shiel, which nevertheless included one Munro and one Corbett.
I have done Am Batchach before. In September 2008, to be precise. I was a hillwalking rookie back then, a bit too heavy and not the fittest person in the world. I struggled up the steep side of the Corbett and when I reached the summit I was so exhausted I called it a day. Even though the rocky top of Ciste Dhubh looked appetizing...
So I promised myself that I'll be back one day, stronger and more determined
And the day has finally arrived! We packed our rucksacks and went for it
There are a few things one should be aware of before tackling this pair of mountains. First, the lower ground is pretty wet and boggy (goretex boots recommended ). Second, the steepness may be intimidating, especially for beginners. Third, allow more time than guides suggest (naismith's 4.5 hrs). I can guarantee, if you catch a good day you will stop every five minutes to take pictures! This route's like visiting an art gallery - so much to discover and every corner you turn offers another splendid view.
The scenery is fantastic from the very beginning as Glen Shiel itself's a great spot to admire and photograph - one doesn't have to climb anything to see the true Scotland!
The best place to park for this route is in the layby on the north side of the A87, just by the Glenshiel Forest (or what's left of it, as the vast majority of trees have been recently cut down ). We even left our Japanese girl facing the grand pano of Loch Cluanie, so she was not bored while we were tackling the hills
A few relatively big patches of cloud covered the south side of Glen Shiel just as the ridge of A'Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire, but the summit of Ciste Dhubh was clear. We hoped it would stay clear for the rest of the day...
Ready to go! To the right, sad remains of what once was Glenshiel Forest:
The ground was wet and squelchy on the path up Am Bathach:
Still, even at this stage it's worth every effort. Just look at Loch Cluanie below:
I was so happy to be out on the hills again and so preoccupied by the unforgettable views around that I didn't even notice how I walked up the Corbett and found myself on its narrow ridge:
The wind was strong (MetOffice forecast gusts up to 90 mph ) but surprisingly, very warm. Just as well it blew all the nasty cloud away! To the west, Sgurr an Fhuarail was already fluff-free:
And the continuation of our route looked just as good:
Oh please, please, let's stay here... just a little bit longer...
Cloud and sunshine working together to create a perfect view:
We continued along the ridge of Am Bathach...
...and every glimpse back was like discovering a new perspective:
It felt so different, so much better compare to my first visit to Am Bathach. Yes, I must admit I worked hard for the last three years and it's such a wonderful feeling to achieve something - even if it's just boosting up your fitness levels! Needless to say, I beat my previous time by far, arriving at the summit in just over an hour (and that included all photo-breaks). So I thought, I deserved a break, and there couldn't be a better view to admire while taking some rest...
Close-up to the distinctive face of Ciste Dhubh:
The tops of other mountains around us were clearing up now and the day couldn't look any better:
As we began descending the steep slope down to the bealach between the two hills (Bealach a'Choinich), my knee sent me first warning messages. If I was a sane person, I'd have read these symptoms and finished my walking day, but come on... Again I decided to ignore logic and carry on.
The initial way down is steep and because it had rained the previous day, careful descending required some dancing and balancing skills (Strictly Come Dancing on a muddy mountain slope???)
Finding way across the bealach with its countless puddles and lochan was a wee bit tricky, too...
...but the slopes of Ciste Dhubh were so tempting...
...that we couldn't resist them. With my knee feeling slightly uncomfortable now, I tried the old and checked method of zigzagging up the wet, grassy ground. Soon I forgot about the pain - and just having a look around was enough to forget. Am Bathach now showed us its almost perfectly traingular northern face:
The Three Brothers were now showing up:
From Bealach a'Choinich it's about 200m of steep and pathless climbing until one arrives at more level ridge, with the pointy top of An Cnapach dominating the view:
Me with Mullach Fraoch-choire in the background:
To the west we were welcome by the familiar yet always stunning view of the Five Sisters:
Ben Fhada was also there, smiling in the sunshine (another hill on my to-do list):
Simply amazing! Wherever you turn, you'll encounter another fantastic pano...
Kevin and the sisters:
At some point, a path showed up and it took us along the slope of An Cnapach (skipping its main summit):
An amazing lost valley between two of the brothers (Sgurr a Bhealaich Dheirg and Aonach Meadhoin):
An Cnapach seen from just below the main summit of the Black Chest:
A thin, lonely cloud lingered around the top of our target Munro...
The Black Chest in its full glory:
There's a final little descent just before reaching the summit - and for a countless time that day I felt overwhelmed:
Unfortunately, as we narrowed the top, my knee gave me a really bad time. I started limping slightly...
... but turning back was out of question now!
Especially with the encouraging views around!
The summit itself is small, with a practically vertical drop on one side and a tiny cairn:
We took our well deserved lunch break at the top, waiting patiently for the annoying little cloud to go away.Well, eventually our patience was awarded:
The sisters again:
Grand pano to the west:
Getting down should be the easier part of the day, but not for me. After twenty minutes of sitting by the summit cairn my injured knee went stiff and as I started walking down I discovered that the only way I could move without pain was to keep my right leg as straight as possible. Ended up trying not to bend it at all which gave Kevin a good laugh as he concluded:
" Congratulations on your 54th Munro, Herr Flick!"
"Be careful" I replied "If you're not nice to me I'll unpack my little Gestapo whip and smack your bottom"
At least we kept our sense of humor, but the first 15 min of descending were a real pain:
Instead of returning the way we came, we went down the steep mountain side, where a sheep path leaves the main one just past the rocks of The Chest. I discovered that descending with a stiff leg was actually easier on a very steep slope than more even ground An additional bonus of this choice was the opportunity to see The Chest from just below - so impressive:
Carrying on despite obstacles:
A'Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire ridge in front of us:
It actually looks worse than it is, and I guess it would be possible to ascend this way as well:
Herr Flick and Ciste Dhubh :
Am Bathach and Loch Cluanie behind it:
Once down in the glen we had a last look at our conquest...
Weather was even better now, with blue sky all around:
One of many streams to cross:
The walk back to A87 was the boggiest part of the day (ha ha try to jump over streams and puddles with a stiff knee!) but still, despite all the problems, we kept our smiles on and arrived back on the road 6 hours after starting our adventure. Considering the circumstances, I think I did a pretty good job with the Black Chest
Before we left, we waved good-bye to Am Bathach:
Sure it wasn't our last visit to Glen Shiel. As I had written in one of my previous reports, my greatest adventure has just begun. I'll carry on walking with one important change to my habits: I'll be more careful, use logical thinking and avoid silly bravery, don't want to cause myself a permanent leg injury... I'd rather be Mr Spock than Herr Flick, that's for certain!
by kevsbald » Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:06 pm
BlackPanther wrote:my greatest adventure has just begun
Good luck with the rest of your journey and i hope your knee gives you no further problems
by LeithySuburbs » Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:22 pm
by Jock McJock » Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:25 pm
by ChrisW » Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:00 pm
by ndhudson » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:26 pm
by pollyh33 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:18 pm
by MarilynMunro » Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:29 am
by davetherave » Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:20 am
Your right about the steep drop off ciste dubh summit. When we reached the summit wilson plonked his hairy bum right on its grassy edge. Very scary indeed.
by Johnny Corbett » Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:11 pm
by Scotjamie » Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:22 pm
by hillmaster » Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:45 pm
Please reply when you can and PLEASE take care of that knee! I am currently waiting (albeit somewhat apprehensively) for a replacement and as soon as it is up and running I intend to put it through its paces by getting back on the hill. Once again many thanks for a great blog and photos.
by hutchy1 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:23 pm
Walkhighlands community forum is advert free
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?