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Hartaval with circumnavigation of the Storr.

Hartaval with circumnavigation of the Storr.


Postby Norman_Grieve » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:21 am

Fionas included on this walk: Hartaval

Date walked: 15/04/2012

Time taken: 6.1 hours

Distance: 15.2 km

Ascent: 1047m

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Scaled Hartaval, ma last 2k+ peak on Skye yesterday, combined with a circumnavigation of the Storr, which produced a few hair raising moments...
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Last edited by Norman_Grieve on Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hartaval with circumnavigation of the Storr.

Postby Norman_Grieve » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:17 am

Can any o' youse good people tell ma hoo tae get the ascent off the EMap once completed & saved? :?
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Re: Hartaval with circumnavigation of the Storr.

Postby mrssanta » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:06 pm

if you click on "open map in GPS planner" at the bottom of your map in this report, it will open in a new tab and then you can read the distance and height off the right hand column.
btw its 15.2 km and 1047 metres
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Re: Hartaval with circumnavigation of the Storr.

Postby Norman_Grieve » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:41 am

mrssanta wrote:if you click on "open map in GPS planner" at the bottom of your map in this report, it will open in a new tab and then you can read the distance and height off the right hand column.
btw its 15.2 km and 1047 metres


Cheers doll, I get a column o' grid refs for each digitized point on the left rather than right, with the distance in miles & km at the top - but nae height ascended. The only time I've seen the latter is in the early stages o' creating the route but then it seems tae give up on ma... :(
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Re: Hartaval with circumnavigation of the Storr.

Postby mrssanta » Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:18 pm

oops I meant the left hand column. the distance and height will be at the top of the list of grid references and you may need to scroll up to get it.
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Re: Hartaval with circumnavigation of the Storr.

Postby Norman_Grieve » Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:00 am

mrssanta wrote:oops I meant the left hand column. the distance and height will be at the top of the list of grid references and you may need to scroll up to get it.


Cheers babe, I still dinnae see the ascent, scrollin' up or no, guess ah'm just gonna hiv tae rely on your good self.

Btw I've just got a CD with the photies o' ma twa weekend climbs, which include a coupla videos - so stand by for some more tough questions for ma very ain gorgeous Technical Advisor. 8)
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Herebe the photies...

Postby Norman_Grieve » Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:53 am

Herebe ze photies...

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P1000076 by EuanHS, on Flickr

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P1000077 by EuanHS, on Flickr

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P1000078 by EuanHS, on Flickr

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P1000079 by EuanHS, on Flickr

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P1000080 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000082 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000083 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000084 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000085 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000086 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000087 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000088 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000089 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000090 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000091 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000092 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000093 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000095 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000096 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000097 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr

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P1000098 by ninagrove1913, on Flickr
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TR pt. 5

Postby Norman_Grieve » Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:19 pm

Drove for 3hr doon fae Ullapool, having scaled Sgurr an Fhidhleir - Ben More Coigach the previous afternoon-evening, interrupted by a 20 min. delay at the Stromeferry cliff fencing works-convoy & wee pit stop at Portree chipper. Parked the Foggie-approved gas-guzzler at a wee layby/picnic stop 5 miles past Portree on the Staffin road, nae far fae the Storr Lochs / head of Loch Leathan, a coupla miles south of The Storr. This was close beside a stream, not far below a waterfall and after pulling on ma slightly less shiny red, newish S4K Verto TNF B2 boots, I set off an hour earlier than the previous day, at the crack of 1.35pm.

Although there was an unexpectedly fair sized path to start with, it soon split around the waterfall, perhaps being mainly used by touros for a quick photostop by the wee cascade. I was soon glad of ma boots Gortex lining, as the narrow, grassy, wet wee path which I followed onwards beside the stream, became increasingly boggy and I soon quit it altogether, as the stream bent round to the left, awa fae the direction of the Bealach Mor, in which I was vaguely headed.

The going then got even rougher, over tussocky grass with worse bog & the odd pool of water but I soon spotted an ATV track rising steeply up a wee heathery ridge over to the right. Heading towards this I soon escaped the bog, rising up drier, more heathery ground on a much gentler lower ridge.

After climbing a couple of hundred feet up the wee ATV track I hit what looked like an ancient grassed over pony track, zig-zagging leftwards towards the bealach. This found a weakness in the long line of basalt cliffs leading left to the high sub2k Marilyn of Ben Dearg and right towards The Storr. The views soon opened up south to the jagged, snow dusted outline of the Black Cuillin and the Red Cuillin to their left. The short cropped grass made for easy going to the col, where I turned right beyond a broken line of old iron fence posts, shortly hearing voices over to the right, close to the cliff edge. These belonged to a guy moving down quickly towards the pass behind me, being followed in more erratic progress by a lad of maybe 10 or 11.

Despite the gradual slopes behind the edge of the escarpment, I'd by now lost any path and the longer grass made for softer, slower going, so I turned further right again, to see if perhaps the father & son were on a path, given their speedy movement. This turned out to be more of a large animal track but the cliff edge provided very extensive views away up north, back the way I'd driven, even the unmistakeable very distant outline of Suilven being clearly made out. The tracks were almost continuous, skirting to the right of pt. 429m, where one could see that the cliffs rose to a tremendous nose beyond and to the right of wee Lochan Bealaich Bhig.

Following a level section a couple of hundred feet of climbing led over a forepeak to the west of and away above the lochan, with a shorter drop beyond to the Bealach Beag, the final col before the long rise to the summit of The Storr. After skirting around the edge of a grassy bowl dropping down into a ravine piercing the long band of cliffs to the right, I climbed up just a hunnerd foot or so over the other side of the col. I then started traversing for a mile or so along the uniform western flank of The Storr, towards the Bealach a' Chuirn, the col between The Storr and my objective, Hartaval.

I had a vague recollection of having read a TR of my nearest known global competition in the race to be the next famous Grahamist, Squiz, having followed a similar route a year or so ago. I soon noticed a continuation of the broken line of old fence posts, awa doon tae ma left and my line gradually converged with them, as their's rose gradually fae the col. They led roughly along the line of a series of small springs, presumably emerging along the contact between the basalt sill above and some impervious basement rock below - anyone got a handy link tae a geological map of the area?

Below doon tae the left, the many wee streams converged on the broad, gentle slopes to form the Lon Mor, which flowed gently doon for a few miles, then more steeply tae join the River Hautlin, around whose headwaters I'd already passed between bealachs mor & beag. Intermittent animal tracks speeded progress towards the Bealach a' Chuirn, roughly along the line of the auld fence posts, which were lost at the broad col. There was a fine view over it's far side up along the coast to Staffin, with a wee stream cascading down into the impressive large, two tiered, basaltic crag rimmed, curiously unnamed northern corrie below.

I scrambled easily up the broken crags to the left of the corrie edge, forming the nose of the SE ridge of Hartaval. I soon moved left onto easier ground, then back right to rejoin the narrower ridge beyond a wee SE top, then back left again, negotiating a shorter, steeper wee band of crags. Back right again, led to the airy edge of the escarpment, with a fine view along the many miles of the Trotternish ridge, leading north towards Beinn Edra, which I'd climbed fae Uig, after missing the ferry tae Harris with GC four years earlier.

Fae here it was an easy short, gentle stroll along the edge of the yawning abyss to the smallish summit cairn, where I noted that the slippery looking, mossy rock, on the very edge of the huge drop, just 15 yards or so to the NE, was slightly higher. As this appeared untouched by human hand or foot, a slip from it's wee top, proving undoubtledly fatal, there would be little doubt that it's ascent would bestow the honour of being the first true Grahamist...

The remarkably clear conditions made me wonder what on earth I was looking at in the west, beyond the distinctive flat topped twin peaks of MacLeods Tables. It was only after I'd clearly identified the cone of Clisham, much closer and awa further right, that I realised I was looking at Beinn Mhor, the sole Graham on South Uist, now high on my dwindling list of 11 Grahams left tae do. It was noo 10 mins tae 4pm, having taken 2 1/4hr fae the ascent and in view of the good path which I remembered leading up past the Old Man tae The Storr, fae my ascent the best part o' twenty years ago, I reckoned I'd be back at the road in just an hour or so, allowing for a leisurely drive back tae Airberdin, expecting tae arrive at a reasonable hour for wance...

Shortly after leaving the summit, walking back along the cliff edge, I was somewhat surprised tae see a guy with a big rucksack, walking slowly in the same direction towards the Bealach a' Chuirn. After descending directly doon the wee scramble on the crest of the rapidly narrowing ridge, I soon caught up with him just beside the wee forepeak, hoping to ask if he'd a map but before I could do so, he took the words right out of my mouth, asking if I'd got wan! 'I was hoping you'd have one' says I, then he teld moi that he'd walked along the Trotternish ridge fae Staffin and asked ma how far it was tae Portree. I pointed out the wee pointy, coastal sub2k Marilyn Sithean Bhealaich Chumhaing, telling him that Portee lay down in the dip beyond it, 8 miles or so fae where we stood.

The German backpacker replied that he didnae think he'd make it there today but I said I could give him a lift if he wanted, to which he replied that he thought he'd me moving far too slow to keep up with me. As a parting shot I said that I'd drive back the mile or so along the road tae the end of The Storr path to look for him once I got doon, explaining that as this was such a good path I didn't think it would take him very long for the descent...
As I strolled off doon the steeper, rocky ground above the north side of the col, looking back I soon saw that he wasnae exaggerating aboot his snail's pace and even once toiling up the steepening ground across the other side of the pass he seemed to have hardly moved.

I slanted leftwards, close to the edge of the start of yet another long line of basalt cliffs leading along the left [west], side of the north ridge of The Storr, in order to minimise the amount of climbing involved in crossing the ridge. After a couple o' hunnerd feet I was above the top of the crags to my left and slanted yet further left above them on more gentle, grassy slopes. It didnae take long to reach the broad crest of the ridge, just short of a wee rock tor, pt. 589m, where I spied a fair sized cairn over on the edge to the right.

Here there was a fine view down over the big cliffs of Coire Scamadal, leading around in a long line to the huge summit cliffs of The Storr. I wondered if there was mebbe a path leading over a wide shelf to a break between the two but ironically dismissed this as probably a sheep track, most likely leading to exposed, dangerous loose scree and crags. Any ideas I might have had about checking this out were soon dispelled when I saw what looked like a good path leading down fae the cairn to the left, along the east side of the ridge to the north. Thus I followed this path of smooth earth surface without further ado.

This led easily down steepening slopes, with the odd bootprint adding to the impression that I was on a well worn trod but as it led down below to the right of the rocky nose of An Carn Liath, it narrowed considerably. Below a wide grassy shelf it steepened up dramatically, split and became less defined on loose, dark basaltic gravel. By now my pace had slowed fae a carefree stroll to a cautious, concerned , halting crawl, trying to see what lay down below, with an increasing sense of unease at the feeling of exposure.

Around 20ft above a wee ledge behind a broken rock edge, from which I could see the cliffs falling away precipitously below, it finally dawned on me that I'd been following the tracks of some fairly suicidal / very adventurous sheep. From the crumbling footholds on which I was precariously perched, I could see that leading leftwards towards the relative safety of a steep grass bank, there lay only a few suggestions of more crumbling footholds, between which were even steeper expanses of smooth, bare basaltic, hard packed gravel.

I looked back over the way I'd come, even taking a snap towards the snow dusted summit cliffs of The Storr, thinking, rather late in the day, that it might nae hiv bin a bad idea tae reclimb it. However, I could now see that my crumbling descent to reach my current perch, was even more exposed if anything, than the most unpromising terrain which lay ahead. Thus after much prevarication, I decided to continue down to the ledge below, then after peering over the wee rock barrier to study what lay below in wait for ma should I slip or the insubstantial 'holds', give way, I finally decided to 'go for it'.

From where the wee ledge petered out after a few feet, I traversed up slightly to the left, towards another wee perch, using my stiff B2 crampon compatible boots to kick steps in the bare, dark grey, basaltic gravel. There were a few crumbly knobbles of rock, which I tried to use as purchase for the hands, finding them loose and shattered, spending a few seconds to excavate still somewhat insecure handholds as I went. Once I reached the wee gravel ledge in a slight hollow in the steep, slidey slope, I got a better view of the broken crags below, thinking that just a few more yards would see me past the most exposed section.

This was also the barest, longest gap between any semblence of a ledge for ma feet and were it not for moi stiff boots to kick more steps, along a descending traverse to the right, I would almost certainly have ended up plummeting uncontrollably doon the ghastly rocks & gravel below. As it was I made it around below a bulge and was soon pulling up onto the turf over the bank hanging over the end of the bare gravel section, where I collapsed in a most relieved heap. After a wee breather to recover fae the trauma, I made my way easily doon the steep grass and moved round to the right to inspect the scene of my escape fae below.

I soon reached a path which I'd seen fae above the horrendous ground above but saw that it led up to the right above an even steeper, higher crag, adjudging it to be no more than yet another dangerous sheep track. Thus I soon quit it and made my way down the right side of a smaller, lower band of crags, leading to a wee ridge of more steep, short grass slanting further right towards the Rigg Burn. This led between scattered guilty sheep to more gentle rolling grassland towards a fence running along the true left bank of the burn. I crossed the fence where it cut up to the base of the long line of black basalt cliffs curving round Coire Scamadal, then traversed up through scattered boulders close to the burn.

I crossed this easily, where it steepened up below a series of slimy falls, where it trickled for a couple of hundred feet down the near vertical headwall. I then climbed up to the left, traversing above wee Loch Scamadal. I continued leftwards below the wee 504m top beyond the end of the Coire scamadal cliffs, before turning to the right to climb more directly up the slope. A moderate slope with longer grass lining a shallow wee valley soon led to a fence, beyond which over a wee ridge, where the Old Man finally put in an appearance, now quite close at hand. From here I dropped down much steeper slopes between broken crags, below which I picked up yet more animal tracks, which led along beyond the foot of the crags on the right, past a wide stony break.

The tracks led over a final wee ridge, then I traversed further right, below a wee steeper, rocky band to join the large, well worn muddy path below the Old Man, backed by the big, dark summit buttresses of The Storr. Looking up above the path to the right lay the distinctive Needle Rock, pierced, as wan might expect by it's round hole. I hadn't descended far down the constructed, stepped path, before I entered the gloomy forest, a plantation of regimented conifers, which below a steeper section, threading wee outcrops, was in the process of being harvested. The path made light work of the descent, zig-zagging doon twa further, shorter steeper sections, to emerge beside the A855, where I was greeted at the sizeable carpark by numerous wee posters advertizing various cafes and sundry other attractions to be found along the coast.

There was a wee roadside sign for walkers across the road fae the carpark, indicating that it was 6.5 miles tae Portree, of which I covered just the 1st mile and a half or so, along the west shore of Loch Leathan, with it's curious circular island, close to it's NE shore. This appeared to have been ploughed, it's fresh bare earth surface perhaps indicative of waterworks activity, related to the power station, above the seashore, close to & 400ft below the foot of the loch. Half an hour's stroll, with the sight and plaintive sound of curlews taking me back to childhood days in Littondale and I arrived at the waiting gas-guzzler after 7.35pm, it having taken approaching 4hr for the rather circuitous and problematic return.
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Das ist alles mein volk!

Postby Norman_Grieve » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:43 am

That's all folks!
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Re: Hartaval with circumnavigation of the Storr.

Postby mrssanta » Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:59 pm

wee scary moment there I was a bit nervous for you
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Location: north yorkshire moors

Re: Hartaval with circumnavigation of the Storr.

Postby Norman_Grieve » Tue May 01, 2012 8:49 am

mrssanta wrote:wee scary moment there I was a bit nervous for you


Aye lass, ah could've done wi you there tae held moi haund - nae change there then...
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