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Cluanie to the Saddle - I must be crazy
by benno » Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:48 am
Munros included on this walk: Aonach Air Chrith, Creag a'Mhaim, Creag nan Damh, Druim Shionnach, Maol chinn-dearg, Sgurr an Doire Leathain, Sgurr an Lochain, Sgurr na Sgine, The Saddle
Date walked: 10/09/2009
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Following my long plateau traverse yesterday, this is a nicely contrasting ridge walk. I set off from my camp at Loch Garry at 6am and was walking by 6.30, heading up the track towards Loch Quoich and Tomdoun from the Cluanie Inn. Beyond the highest point of this track, a good stalkers path zig-zags up almost to the top of the first summit of the day, Creag a'Mhaim. There was a lot of cloud about, but all of the summits visible except for Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan were beneath it.
Looking up towards Creag a'Mhaim
Bit of blue sky?
Check out how rubbish either my photography skills or my camera are (also how little a photo represents what you actually see). These are both the same view
Looking across Glen Shiel to A'Chralaig
The next section of ridge was a bit narrow and rocky but with no problems, taking me to summit no. 2, Druim Shionnach. Given the lengthy walk ahead of my (and the personal significance of Aonach air Chrith) I headed onwards to summit no. 3. This hill is significant to me because it is my 142nd munro, half of the 284 (although I was to discover by text several summits later 283) munros. I celebrated with a cheese sandwich and marvelled the view across Glen Quoich to Gleouraich.
Creag a'Mhaim from near the top of Druim Shionnach
Aonach air Chrith from Druimm Shionnach
The 5 sisters from Aonach air Chrith
Unsuspecting deer upwind
So next, down the rocky W ridge of Aonach air Chrith and up to the next summit Maol Chinn-dearg, and Sgurr an Doire Leathain, before continuing along a particularly enjoyable section of the ridge to Sgurr an Lochain, munro no. 6. This hill was a significant one for me for two reasons, firstly I'd previously only climbed a maximum of 5 munros in a day (so this marked the beginning something bigger) and secondly, it provided me with a stop for another much needed cheese sandwich.
Aonach air Chrith from the West
All the way along the views were just amazing. I particularly liked the view across Loch Quoich to Sgurr Mor (Loch Quoich is in my opinion one of the most wonderful places in Scotland), and to the impressive peak of Sgurr Thionail, which I think is deserved of much more significance than a corbett top (not summit).
Continuing to Creag nan Damh I had my first look at Loch Duich, and the view down the length of Glen Quoich to Gleouraich. I also met my first fellow walker here, contemplating a short scramble on the ridge just W of the summit (in order to get to the summit from the W). The ridge down to the Bealach Duibh Leac is quite rocky but straightforward. As I reached the bealach, decision time. Continue, or head down? Weather was fine, legs felt fine, plenty of food, it's only 1pm. Carry on, I decided, the remaining hills tantalisingly close. So a Corbett, Sgurr a' Bhac Chaolais, and the difference is immediately apparant. Path not overly eroded, no human debris (except for a stone wall and fence posts) and a bit of wildlife (other than the scores of deer already seen)! 3 Ptarmigan on the summit, wonderful things.
Gleouriach and Glen Quoich
Sgurr na Sgine through a wisp if cloud
The descent down the West ridge of this Corbett was probably the hardest bit of the whole day, especially on increasingly knackered legs. There's what would normally be a very easy scramble down with an obvious route, but the decreasing strength of my legs and damp slippery rock made it a wee bit harder. Nevertheless I made it to the bealach (700m) and refilled my water for the steep climb up Sgurr na Sgine.
West side of Sgurr a' Bhac Chaolais
The direct ascent of Sgurr na Sgine would have been very hard - it's incredibly steep and rocky with cliffs up high (although a couple of gullys that would provide a steep scramble up loose ground for anyone brave enough). I headed left following a drystone dyke to gain the S ridge of Sgurr na Sgine. From there it was a simple climb steeply up to the summit, munro no. 8 of the day and summit no. 9.
The Saddle from Sgurr na Sgine
At this point the Saddle was out of the cloud (40% MWIS forecast, so far all tops out of the cloud with a fair amount of sunshine around). I stopped for the 3rd cheese sandwich of the day and a chocolate bar for that extra burst of energy, and headed around the ridge before dropping down to the Bealach Coire Mhalagain (700m). At this point I met another walker (my 2nd of the day) who after a short chat offered me a lift back to Cluanie (he had Sgurr na Sgine to climb and I had the Saddle so we'd probably arrive down about the same time) - more on this later.
The added motivation of less uncertainty about my transport arrangements motivated me to attack the final 1000ft steep climb up to the Saddle, even although cloud had now disappointingly enshrouded the summit. The path is fairly well worn, although I managed to lose it in the bad visibility as it crossed a boulder field. I ended up on a very faint path heading straight up towards a crag emerging through the cloud, but luckily just beneath this crag I met the path again and continued surprisingly easily up to the trig point on the Saddle where I left my sack for the short walk and scramble to the summit cairn, munro no. 9 of the day and summit no. 10.
Tiny summit cairn of the Saddle
Trig point through the cloud
The Saddle from the foot the Forcan Ridge
Glen Shiel from the descent to the road
Severely lacking in energy now, I tucked into my emergency sugar supply (jam sandwich and a banana) before heading back down out of the cloud to Glen Shiel (didn't fancy the Forcan after 9 munros and on my own in the cloud). Arriving back at the road after 11h walking (funnily enough feeling less tired than after Day 1 of my walking extraveganza), the kind gentleman I had met was just behind me. We got in the car and put on the seat-belts...
t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t went the starter motor..the car wouldn't start! So the poor guy had to call out the breakdown whilst I guiltily hitched back up the road to Cluanie for the 150mile drive home - I hope he didn't have to wait long.
So that was the concluding chapter of my summer walking adventures - the weather has been fairly unreliable so I didn't get out as much as I had wanted to, but still managed 43 munros, 3 corbetts and plenty of low level walks in the Lomonds and the Ochils. And now the migration back to London, what a shock to the system that's going to be!
by Stretch » Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:04 pm
Loch Quoich is special to me too. Well done on your long hikes.
- mountain coward
by benno » Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:56 am
by benno » Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:02 am
by Paul Webster » Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:33 pm
by benno » Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:50 pm
by AndrewP » Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:28 pm
by Alan S » Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:57 pm
i would consider myself to be reasonabily fit but my legs just wouldnt keep going to the saddle when i done the ridge so well done.
some good pics there,good to see some of the views i missed
by kinley » Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:47 pm
I'm disappointed you didn't climb the fine Graham Biod an Fhithich on the descent though
by yokehead » Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:41 pm