walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

A blast of winter above Achnashellach

A blast of winter above Achnashellach


Postby 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: 1469m

9 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 during last week's heatwave that we were studying potential walks for our week in Kishorn, and at no point did we consider the possibility of any kind of winter conditions. Indeed, in the first two days of our trip we didn't even get a glimpse of the white stuff. With the big dump of snow on Monday night we decided to take in the two Munros north of Achnashellach - an area we hadn't really walked in previously.


our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



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.

Image
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.

Image
Beinn Eighe

Image
Sgorr Ruadh and Beinn Damh

Image
Fuar Tholl and Sgorr Ruadh

Image
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.

Image
Towards Liathach

Image
Maol Chean-Dearg, Beinn Bhan and Beinn Damh

Image
Towards Beinn Alligin and Loch Torridon

Image
Looking along the ridge to the summit

Image
Towards Fuar Tholl

Image
Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine

Image
Liathach

Image
One of the interesting descents on the long ridge

Image
Sgorr Ruadh

Image
Looking back along the ridge

Image
Beinn Eighe and Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine

Image
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.

Image
The next target

Image
Back along the ridge from the summit

Image
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.

Image
Ptarmigan

Image
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.

Image
Back to the first summit

Image
Raeburn's Buttress and Sgorr Ruadh's northern cliffs

Image
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!

Image
Our hills that we climbed two days earlier - An Ruadh Stac and Maol Chean-Dearg

Image
Beinn Damh and Maol Chean-Dearg

Image
Liathach

Image
Loch Torridon, with the silhouette of the Harris hills on the horizon

Image
The long ridge of Beinn Liath Mhor

Image
Towards Loch Carron

Image
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.

Image
Fuar Tholl

Image
The Mainreachan Buttress

Image

Image
Mirror-like Lochans at the bealach

Image
The Buttress from below

Image
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.

Image
Loch Kishorn later in the evening
User avatar
joenorris
 
Posts: 92
Munros:215   Corbetts:63
Grahams:10   Donalds:5
Sub 2000:12   Hewitts:41
Wainwrights:27   
Joined: Apr 20, 2011

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby soulminer » Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:25 pm

A pair of stunning mountains indeed. Some fine photos along the way. I'm sure the smile is still on your face, it would not have left mine if I had a day like yours :lol:
Cheers.
User avatar
soulminer
 
Posts: 804
Joined: Mar 18, 2010
Location: Johnstone

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:08 pm

Winter is definitely back, I wonder - for how long?
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 :lol:
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3456
Munros:260   Corbetts:165
Grahams:114   
Sub 2000:48   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby snodland » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:11 pm

You wait ages for an Achnashellach report and then 3 come along at once. I wondered how these 2 would look after the snow on Monday as I was up B.L.M. on Saturday and Sgorr Ruadh Sunday.
That Coire on the Bealach Mor looks imposing I will have to get back there on a clear day
User avatar
snodland
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 163
Munros:89   Corbetts:17
Grahams:14   Donalds:10
Sub 2000:20   Hewitts:5
Joined: Jan 2, 2010

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby soapy27 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:12 pm

Great report and trully amazing pictures some of the best i've seen yet. :D
User avatar
soapy27
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 472
Munros:282   Corbetts:160
Grahams:18   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:51   
Islands:10
Joined: Apr 5, 2009
Location: Perth

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby jimandandrea » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:08 pm

Absolutely stunning photos :D

It is amazing to see the difference a few days make between Snodland's report and yours.
User avatar
jimandandrea
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 339
Munros:264   Corbetts:6
Hewitts:98
Wainwrights:214   
Joined: Mar 6, 2010
Location: Kendal Cumbria

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby katie16 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:22 pm

Your photos are amazing, trying to decide where to head for my annual Scotland break and you may have just sold it. K
katie16
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2, 2012

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby Bod » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:25 pm

Wow! Stunning photos and what a well camouflaged ptarmigan :D :D :D
User avatar
Bod
Walker
 
Posts: 1527
Munros:282   Corbetts:51
Grahams:30   Donalds:20
Sub 2000:41   Hewitts:9
Wainwrights:7   Islands:24
Joined: Jul 30, 2010
Location: Cowdenbeath

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby Stretch » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:39 pm

Beautiful pics Joe, thanks for sharing!
User avatar
Stretch
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 1714
Munros:146   Corbetts:8
Sub 2000:2   
Joined: Jun 15, 2009
Location: Morristown, Tennessee

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby GariochTom » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:01 pm

Great pictures; the snow really seems to emphasise the form and features of the mountains.
User avatar
GariochTom
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 142
Munros:148   Corbetts:34
Grahams:9   
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:1
Joined: Aug 5, 2008
Location: Aberdeenshire

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby mrssanta » Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:14 am

that's amazing
User avatar
mrssanta
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3041
Munros:251   Corbetts:11
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:44
Wainwrights:40   Islands:8
Joined: Jul 18, 2011
Location: north yorkshire moors

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby Graeme D » Fri Apr 06, 2012 9:44 am

Joe, words cannot possibly describe how good this report is and how "high" you must have been all through that adventure in the ultimate playground..... (and most probably still are!) - one of the finest sets of photos I've seen attached to any report. 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
User avatar
Graeme D
 
Posts: 3603
Munros:225   Corbetts:107
Grahams:65   Donalds:22
Sub 2000:56   Hewitts:36
Wainwrights:27   Islands:6
Joined: Oct 17, 2008
Location: Perth

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby rockhopper » Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:11 am

Absolutely fantastic joe - no wonder you had such a great day - they don't come like this very often ! - cheers :D
User avatar
rockhopper
 
Posts: 6567
Munros:282   Corbetts:215
Grahams:64   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: Jun 1, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby yokehead » Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:35 pm

A marvellous read and wonderful photos. 8) As you say, perfect conditions for a mountaineering day, isn't it grand when it all comes together! :D

I have just the one negative comment, and that is :mrgreen:
User avatar
yokehead
 
Posts: 698
Munros:68   Corbetts:9
Grahams:1   
Hewitts:87
Wainwrights:23   
Joined: Nov 13, 2008

Re: A blast of winter above Achnashellach

Postby dogplodder » Fri Apr 06, 2012 9:44 pm

That was some walk in those underfoot conditions. Views are amazing and well captured by you. :D

But boy it does look cold!
User avatar
dogplodder
 
Posts: 3659
Munros:228   Corbetts:57
Grahams:17   
Sub 2000:25   Hewitts:5
Wainwrights:9   Islands:23
Joined: Jul 16, 2011

9 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).
Next



Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: 15pearsonT, David S, DizzyVizion, dmhibs, Orosay, PeteR, seymoore and 84 guests