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The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag


Postby Ranger » Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:56 pm

Route description: Sgurr Alasdair

Munros included on this walk: Sgurr Alasdair, Sgurr Dubh Mor, Sgurr nan Eag

Date walked: 24/03/2012

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 13 km

Ascent: 1350m

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OK finally, got round to this one :)

After the adrenalin pumping previous couple of days on the In Pin and Gillean 3, the third day of my Cuillin trilogy was to be the relatively more relaxing southern 3 Munros (emphasis on the relatively!) rather than another day of dizzying aretes on the Coire a'Ghreadaidh skyline...

It was another clear, if hazy morning, with barely a breath of wind. The lack of sun might be described as dull conditions in many other places, but here the jagged Cuillin skyline rendered that word redundant
P1160705.JPG
Loch Brittle before the sun had broken through


Limbs loosened with stretches and a quick jog to warm up, I set off presuming I'd have the hills to myself, but soon gaining the company of a Perth-based South African guy Robert, who was also finishing his Munros. His plans for the day sounded impressive - traversing the ridge of Sgurr nan Eag to finish by soloing the In pin. I'd struggle to keep up! :shock:

P1160709.JPG
The little stream running out of Loch a'Ghrunnda

Another tremendous approach path took us in good time in Coire a'Ghrunnda, sticking to the northern flank of the Corrie before requiring some scrambled up slabs to reach the lochan. The sun was burning through to warm us up and we took a couple of minutes to enjoy the surroundings, a tamer, more welcoming haven that the more foreboding Coire Lagan - another Cuillin gem discovered 8)
P1160719.JPG
Reflections of Sgurr Alasdair in Loch a'Ghrunnda


We took a direct route up the broken crags of Sgurr nan Eag's northern flank, a clear path weaving amongst the rock with little scrambling or exposure. Banachdich and Bruach na Frithe are usually mentioned as the only two easy Cuillins, but I'd definitely add Sgurr nan Eag to that list for anyone wanting to ease their way into things.
P1160733.JPG
The summit ridge of Sgurr nan Eag, looking to Gars Bheinn


The summit ridge is slabby on the east side but easy and broken on the west, and quite long relative to the Cuillins, a fact I mentioned to my pal Robert with unexpectedly hilarious consequences...
P1160737 (2).JPG
My photo-opp request pays its dues!

P1160728.JPG
Atmospheric light as distant hills are seen through the haze


so... We'd made it - the cairn is at the far end of the summit ridge, and I continued downslope a short way for an unbroken vista of the sea shore flanking Gars Bheinn. My friend joined me but as I returned to the summit, he continued a little way further, then even further, continuing down the ridge - wow was he keen for that perfect photo opp! :? :lol: Increasingly baffled I eventually called out to him "where are you going?!" - he pointed to the summit of distant Gars Bheinn - "to the summit!" :shock: "What? This is the summit!" - I said pointing at the cairn at my back breaking into laughter. He looked bemused, smiled then returned. "You said it was a long summit ridge?" - :shock: "Aye! But not THAT long!" :lol: "Well that makes the day a hell of a lot easier!!" he said :D :lol:
P1160741.JPG
Gars Bheinn, NOT to be confused with the summit of Sgurr nan Eag


Still chuckling at that bit of grand misidentification, we retraced our steps northwards, scrambling down the slabs of the ridge crest until it was easier to join the easy path on the left. The Castle, a massive prow of bare rock sat astride the ridge col, was turned easily on the east flank.
P1160744.JPG
Across to Bla Bheinn
P1160760.JPG
Some friendly slabs on the north ridge of Sgurr nan Eag


The ascent to the top of Sgurr Dubh na Da Bheinn was an entertaining if thoroughly easy scramble, the remarkable friction gained from the gabbro and peridotite really something else.
P1160762.JPG
Looking back to the north ridge of Sgurr nan Eag


We wasted little time getting to grips with the route to Sgurr Dubh Mor, which looked tricky. Easy scrambling led to a bealach topped by a couple of rock towers that were outflanked, first to the left hand side, then the right hand side, before we regained the ridge crest below a craggy nose which seemed to discourage direct progress.
P1160773.JPG
Commencing the ascent towards Sgurr Dubh Mor from its neighbour Da Bheinn


From this point, a photo on Steve Fallon's website was recalled which points out that a less direct ascent can be gained from following terraces to the south side, and we duly followed a path leading that way. Maybe because the nature of a traverse path casts your eye to the ground in front of your feet and thus - indirectly - "down" (breaking my golden rule :shock: :lol: ), or maybe because I felt rushed by Robert's quick pace, I was feeling some real exposure :shock:
P1160725.JPG
The south face terraces below Sgurr Dubh Mor


At each turn in the zig zag up the terraces, a steepish slab required some thoughtful scrambling. At one point, I cast a nervous glance in front of me at my advancing partner and was alarmed at the groan of immense effort required to haul himself over a short rock step. I got there, and sure enough, a couple of slabs either demanded an exposed move or two above a sheer drop, or a tricky pull up the recess between them - I tried the latter, and in a precarious spot found my rucksack was stuck. I called for assistance, removed the obstruction and chucked it up to Robert, and made the move with little difficulty. Phew :) The summit was a short distance on....
P1160775.JPG
Odd looking summit rocks of Sgurr Dubh Mor


We stopped briefly at the cairn, but moved on to a point a little further along which - tipped off by mountain guide JJ from the day before - is apparently higher... (dives for cover from alarmed Munro baggers :lol: ) This point was remarkable, the 'crest' forming the high point being so narrow that the only comfortable resting point to enjoy the summit was to sit abreast it with a leg either side. Relaxing.... :crazy: :-D

P1160761.jpg
Sgurr Alasdair above Loch a'Ghrunnda

We headed onwards to Alasdair. Now Robert's ambitious plans to head onto the In Pin and solo it, hitching a ride "hopefully" on someone's rope for the abseil off it (but what if no one else was....:think: :eh: :lol: ), had long since been conceded to be as mad as a box of frogs. The fact that now it became apparent no less than the Thearliach-Dubh gap had been news to him (invisible from this part of the ridge, he was reluctant to believe it existed! :shock: :lol:) I felt i was repaying his company with some useful/bloody essential route finding advice :lol:

P1160782.JPG
Cave on route to Alasdair

The alternative route I'd researched, traversing below the craggy south face of Alasdair above a scree slope, went with surprising ease - even a path to follow. From a prominent cave, we cut across towards a short chimney scramble 50ft below the crest - an easy diversion from the Mauvais Pas on the crest, and another example of the value of some pre-route research. Once I'd freed an alarmingly deeply wedged boot, stuck in a crack on the steep move, the chimney went ok
P1160789.JPG
Across the Dubhs to distant Knoydart and Lochaber peaks


The remaining slope to Alasdair was loose and scrambly but of relatively fairly shallow gradient. Joining the crest a little far to the east, a final 30 ft of narrow ridge took us to the tiny, tiny summit of Alasdair - a good bit smaller than Gillean and that was fairly airy! :D
P1160794.JPG
Relief at my last summit of the trip


We could relax and enjoy the situation, the hazy high cloud still there but the air still very clear, with distant lochaber peaks etched on the horizon. A climber on Sgurr Mhic Choinnich made for a good photo
P1160786.JPG
Climber on the summit arete of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich
P1160797.JPG
Ben Nevis a long long way away
P1160802.JPG
Sgurr nan Eag seen across Loch a' Ghrunnda


We descended the easy east ridge to the col before dropping into the dramatic jaws of the stone chute, another incredible Cuillin location that echoed to the sound of the screes tumbling along beneath our feet.
P1160804.JPG
A straightforward, final scramble of the day, east ridge of Sgurr Alasdair

P1160812.JPG
Entering into the jaws of the Great Stone Shoot


My battered and bruised Brashers didnt thank me for charging down the looser scree, but it allowed for a relaxing 10 minutes in the corrie floor waiting as Robert caught me up. A group of 30 odd geology students by the lochan briefly shattered the raw brutality of the scene, but as a former Geography student myself, I sympathised - give me Glen Brittle over Bangor anyday! :D
P1160813.JPG
The immense scale of Coire Lagan


On the walk out back to the car, I probably should have been more disappointed to be approaching the end of my Skye adventure. Overriding though was the sheer joy of the last few days - my initially hesitant expectations, abandoned in a dust cloud of scrambling - had left me thoroughly satisfied and looking forward to a return :D Skye was definitely worth the 16 year wait! 8)
P1160816.JPG
The Cuillins - a final view



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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby scoob999 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:06 am

Ecellent report Ranger
Your reports from skye have given me lots of inspiration, and i will certainly be reading them again before i go to skye
Cheers :D
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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby Klaasloopt » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:21 am

Well done Ranger!
This kind of report is good in many ways: it says Skye is doable, provides clear pictures and text for other's research, and it helps building a WH repository of good descriptions of every route. Invaluable tips like 'Sgurr an Eag is easy, for those getting into it' (true!). :clap:

Photo: me (scratched shin), Winky O'Neill (guide) and David on top of Sgurr nan Gillean, exhilarated.
winky_gillean.jpg
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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:31 am

Another first class report. Absolutely brilliant and also with the carrot of another possibly "easy" Cuillin munro. Thank you for posting. :thumbup:
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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby andrewdoggett » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:36 pm

Awesome report... And awesome pics :clap:

Really wetting my appetite - have a week in Skye in May and plans to do the lot... :D
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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby RicKamila » Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:09 pm

Love absolutely anything to do with Skye. Another good report Ranger :thumbup:
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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby Ranger » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:56 pm

Klaasloopt wrote:Well done Ranger!
This kind of report is good in many ways: it says Skye is doable, provides clear pictures and text for other's research, and it helps building a WH repository of good descriptions of every route. Invaluable tips like 'Sgurr an Eag is easy, for those getting into it' (true!). :clap:

Photo: me (scratched shin), Winky O'Neill (guide) and David on top of Sgurr nan Gillean, exhilarated.
winky_gillean.jpg

Cheers :D

Part of me feels that a bit of romance is lost when - through copious prior research (guidebooks, online reports and photos) - you approach a new route feeling you already know it like the back of your hand!

With the Cuillins for me though, because I'm not a natural crag hopper, I needed to maximise my chances of success.

One day I go somewhere I don't know well, I won't buy a map, I'll just step out of the doorway/car and start climbing the mountain in front of me and see where it leads - that strips climbing back to its essence :D

By the way, your long multi day expeditions look fantastic - the Dutch Hamish Brown perhaps? ;)
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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby mrssanta » Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:25 am

Brilliant report. I hope the weather is half as good when we go to skye next month. can't wait!
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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby Gavin99 » Fri Apr 06, 2012 8:12 am

Great stuff again Ranger, I've really enjoyed reading about your Skye adventures and as Klaasloopt says your reports will provide many with information / inspiration / daydreams in the future .
Cheers
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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby monarchming » Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:39 am

Three fab reports from Skye and it brings back some memories seeing it all again.I have had some classic days and others where the weather just knocks my plans for six so it was good to see Munros I have still to do in such fine detail. Thanks Ranger and well done! :thumbup:
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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby yokehead » Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:42 pm

Well done again sir! :D An excellent, entertaining account and I love the comprehensive detail and photo support. Quality throughout, I'll look forward to the time when I get there.
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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby Bruno » Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:33 pm

Another fantastic report, Ranger. I think all three should be published together on the WH site. Not only do they provide great reading but they debunk the theory that the Cuillin are all but impossible for most mere mortals!!
The photos and superimposed route guides are brilliant.
Look forward to your other reports.
Well done
Iain
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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby Old Bill » Tue Aug 12, 2014 3:13 pm

Cracking report! I shall be attempting to follow in your footsteps soonish!
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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby J888ohn » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:52 am

Great report and amazing pictures. Lost my mojo for the hills recently, after reading that I'm now feeling to need to start hitting the summits again. :D
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Re: The roof of Skye - Alasdair, Dubh Mor and Eag

Postby bar72 » Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:29 am

Great report and pics. Going to give these a go unguided. Got these 3 still to do and just waiting on the weather window then I'm off.
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