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Forcan Ridge - a perfect winter's day

Forcan Ridge - a perfect winter's day


Postby clivegrif » Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:21 pm

Route description: The Saddle, Forcan Ridge and Sgurr na Sgine

Munros included on this walk: The Saddle

Date walked: 25/02/2005

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 10 km

Ascent: 1095m

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Sitting here on a damp warm Worcestershire evening pining for the Scottish mountains, I thought I would share this memory of a particularly fine winter’s day.

We set off from Fort William before dawn to make sure we had maximum daylight available to us, traveling down the Glen Shiel Expressway at first light with snow covered peaks on all sides. This was going to be a GOOD day!
The route up the Forcan Ridge starts at the layby just beyond the obvious bridge at the foot of the mountain. A well maintained stalker’s path winds up the face of the outlier Meallan Odhar, arriving at the obvious col between that top and Bod an Fhithich to the north. Turning south, the route skirts below the top of Meallan Odhar to reach the abrupt start of the Forcan Ridge itself. Now the fun begins.

Sgurr nan Forcan reared up ahead of us, with its head still in the early morning cloud, a mixture of black rock and white snow. Crampons on, axes at the ready, up we go on the first steep rocky scramble.

IMG_0856a.jpg


The ridge narrowed straight away, with slabby drops to either side. The snow conditions were excellent with plenty of bite, and above the sky was starting to clear.

IMG_0859.jpg


Approaching the summit of Sgurr nan Forcan, the ridge narrowed to a fine arête little more than a yard wide. Steady now, it’s a long way down! The views along Glen Shiel were opening up and the sun was starting to shine, what a place this is!

IMG_0860.jpg


The final climb to Sgurr nan Forcan requires care under these conditions, there is an icy slab to overcome and you really would not want to slide off it.

IMG_0866.jpg


The view from the top along the rest of the sharp ridge across to the Saddle was breathtaking. A few yards further on came a little problem. There is a sharp 20 metre drop down from Sgurr nan Forcan to the rest of the ridge, described as a Grade 2 scramble in summer conditions, but covered in ice it becomes more interesting. However, be brave and tackle it head on, it is achievable.

IMG_0867.jpg


Soon afterwards comes the really sharp secton of the ridge, we crossed holding onto the very top of the slab with an awesome drop the other side. The snow gave plenty of grip on the next steep rise, and onto a slight drop before crossing a wider ridge to the final steep climb leading towards the Saddle. This section appeared daunting, but was made easier by keeping to the right of the crags, using the snow to provide solid footholds.

A final stroll along the summit ridge led to the cylindrical trig point, and what a brilliant view! The sun was shining, no wind, but very cold – just perfect.

IMG_0885.jpg


The way down was by the shallow snow filled bowl that led to the col with Sgurr na Sgine, and from there a path follows a wall to meet the approach route below the start of the Forcan Ridge. We reached our start point in the last fading light, a fabulous day.

South Glen Shiel Ridge.jpg
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clivegrif
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Re: Forcan Ridge - a perfect winter's day

Postby Malckyb » Sun Dec 25, 2011 2:09 pm

Looks fantastic..and not for the feint hearted!!..well done.
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Re: Forcan Ridge - a perfect winter's day

Postby Torridon_snails » Sun Dec 25, 2011 5:35 pm

Thanks for sharing these - your spectacular ridge photos are amazing and, as you say, just the thing to be looking at on a Christmas afternoon in dark, mild, windy Leeds!

Happy Christmas!

Clare and Daniel.
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Re: Forcan Ridge - a perfect winter's day

Postby Graeme D » Mon Dec 26, 2011 12:13 am

Quality - along with the Gruffalo's Child, this is the best thing I've clapped eyes on tonight! :D
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Re: Forcan Ridge - a perfect winter's day

Postby malky_c » Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:19 pm

Looks like the ideal winter's day :D . Would love to do the Forcan Ridg in these conditions.

That date rang a bell in my head actually. My diary tells me that I'd spent the next day in Fisherfield with a couple of friends, having walked into Shenavall on the 25th. We had the whole of Beinn a'Chlaidheimh and Sgurr Ban to ourselves in very similar conditions. I'd also wanted to do Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, but we started too late.
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Re: Forcan Ridge - a perfect winter's day

Postby Bod » Mon Dec 26, 2011 9:36 pm

Lovely set of photos, something special to aspire too. Cheers.....:)
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Re: Forcan Ridge - a perfect winter's day

Postby clivegrif » Mon Dec 26, 2011 9:40 pm

A merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you all! Thanks for the comments.

And just for Malky, here's one of Shenavall we took in May that year the day before we climbed Beinn a'Chlaidheimh, Sgurr Ban and Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair! Hope it brings back a memory or two. :D

Day5s.JPG
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