A blast of winter above Achnashellach
by joenorris » Thu Apr 05, 2012 5:06 pm
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Liath Mhor, Sgorr Ruadh
Date walked: 04/04/2012
Time taken: 8 hours
Distance: 16.7 km
Ascent: 1469m9 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).
We set off under worryingly grey skies - the bright conditions that were forecasted hadn't appeared. Yet.
The stalker's path was fairly easy going and it wasn't long until we had reached the junction below the ascent of Beinn Liath Mhor. Coire Lair was certainly living up to expectations - Sgorr Ruadh by far the dominating feature from below.
Sgorr Ruadh and Fuar Tholl from the beginning of the ascent
It was a pretty grueling climb - a relentless 500m, although with a really clear path. It follows the southern edge of the ridge, overlooking the corrie and Fuar Tholl. The Mainreachan Buttress which I had read so much about was gradually emerging as we gained height, and the clouds were beginning to thin, we could sense the sun wasn't far off.
The arrival at the southern end of the ridge came as a great relief and the sun finally burst through bang on time. The views towards Torridon were stunning, despite the remaining cloud.
Sgorr Ruadh and Beinn Damh
Fuar Tholl and Sgorr Ruadh
Up Coire Lair, Beinn Liath Mhor summit on the right
The ridge walking was absolutely fantastic - deep snow weighing the ridge down with thick cornices and interesting scrambly bits. It was certainly a long ridge, but in this instance that was great - just a stunning place to be. All the time the clouds around us were lifting, Torridon was emerging from the grey mists and mythical spires were appearing from the gloom. My eyes couldn't avoid being drawn towards Liathach, it's fortress-like structure standing out among the many visible mountains.
Maol Chean-Dearg, Beinn Bhan and Beinn Damh
Towards Beinn Alligin and Loch Torridon
Looking along the ridge to the summit
Towards Fuar Tholl
Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine
One of the interesting descents on the long ridge
Looking back along the ridge
Beinn Eighe and Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine
Liathach and Torridon
Eventually we reached the high point of the ridge, marked by a huge cairn. The sun was now in full show and the views continued to open up. The ridge had taken significantly longer than we anticipated - a result of both the deep snow and our awe at the views around us. We still had plenty of time in which to take in Sgorr Ruadh, however, so after another wee while of gaping at the surroundings, we plodded off down the ridge towards the bealach.
The next target
Back along the ridge from the summit
East towards Sgurr a'Chaorachain
We had read that there are a few steep bits between the two Munros. Both are fairly simple to descend - obvious paths and a lack of exposure countering the gradient.
One of the steep sections from below
The sun had dropped a bit by now which allowed our eyes to recover from the blinding brightness of the snow. Although the bealach is only at 700m, it felt and looked like we had descended a lot more than a measly 200m! Sgorr Ruadh loomed up above us and we began our ascent to the constant sound of ice falling down the enormous cliffs on its northern side.
Back to the first summit
Raeburn's Buttress and Sgorr Ruadh's northern cliffs
E from the bealach
We gained height quickly up a grassy gully, the unforgiving ascent reminiscent of earlier in the day. Soon the views opened up again as the wide rocky ridge gave way to a short scramble up to the summit. I couldn't believe that, a week after sunbathing on a Fife beach, I was now clambering up a snowy arete above a sea of snowy peaks and buttresses. The contrast was quite surreal!
Our hills that we climbed two days earlier - An Ruadh Stac and Maol Chean-Dearg
Beinn Damh and Maol Chean-Dearg
Loch Torridon, with the silhouette of the Harris hills on the horizon
The long ridge of Beinn Liath Mhor
Towards Loch Carron
An Ruadh Stac, with the Rum and Skye hills now visible
The atmosphere was simply astonishing. The air was still and around us we could see as far afield as Ardnamurchan, Harris, An Teallach and Ben Wyvis, as well as the entire mass of hills between Glen Shiel and Glen Carron. The wonderful scramble up to the summit just added to the sense that this was a day of Scottish mountaineering, not hillwalking. With time ticking away, we reluctantly headed away down towards Fuar Tholl form the summit, with the Mainreachan Buttress looming ever larger. We never managed to find a path down to the bealach, instead opting for a descent over pretty rough frozen terrain. We eventually caught up with the stalkers path below the Buttress.
The Mainreachan Buttress
Mirror-like Lochans at the bealach
The Buttress from below
The summit of Fuar Tholl
After an interesting river crossing back down in the main part of Coire Lair, it was just a matter of willing our legs to get us back to the car. The arrival back at Achnashellach was of course a relief to our legs. It was tinged with an element of sadness, however - days like this in the Scottish mountains are so few and far between that it is always a shame to come down off the hills. It had been an absolutely stunning day - beautiful winter mountaineering conditions and a fantastic route of scrambling and ridge walking. The views had been like none I had seen in Scotland before - just breathtaking. All-in-all, a perfect day in the Scottish hills.
Loch Kishorn later in the evening
by soulminer » Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:25 pm
- Posts: 804
- Joined: Mar 18, 2010
- Location: Johnstone
by BlackPanther » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:08 pm
Great to see a report from this area, and some fantastic photos from the summits, too. We went there three times last year, each mountain we climbed was in cloud and we never saw any summit views. That's just as bad as luck can be. On the other hand - a good excuse to go back
by snodland » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:11 pm
That Coire on the Bealach Mor looks imposing I will have to get back there on a clear day
by soapy27 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:12 pm
by jimandandrea » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:08 pm
It is amazing to see the difference a few days make between Snodland's report and yours.
by katie16 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:22 pm
- Munro compleatist
- Posts: 5
- Joined: Apr 2, 2012
by Bod » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:25 pm
by Stretch » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:39 pm
by GariochTom » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:01 pm
by Graeme D » Fri Apr 06, 2012 9:44 am
by rockhopper » Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:11 am
by yokehead » Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:35 pm
I have just the one negative comment, and that is
by dogplodder » Fri Apr 06, 2012 9:44 pm
But boy it does look cold!