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Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe


Postby dogplodder » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:12 pm

Route description: Beinn Eighe (western summits)

Munros included on this walk: Ruadh-stac Mor (Beinn Eighe), Spidean Coire nan Clach (Beinn Eighe)

Date walked: 26/05/2012

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 19 km

Ascent: 1184m

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For many years we used to head for the Gairloch area with our four kids for family holidays and Beinn Eighe became part of the legend of those times. I vividly remember doing the so called Beinn Eighe Mountain Track from the side of Loch Maree with our two boys aged about 10 and 8 and their faces when we reached the cairn at the top and the bit of scrambling we did on the way down - all great fun! On two occasions we walked up to Coire Mhic Fhearchair - revelling in the wildness of the landscape to the west, striking silly poses and paddling in the lochan. One time when we reached the river the stepping stones were submerged so we walked on round the foot of Liathach to see if we could find another way across. But in those days I wasn't bothered about reaching summits - that bug only infected me once I passed 50. So although I'd photographed Beinn Eighe from other hills and had fond memories of her from family holidays I'd never been up and walked along her ridge. :?

Kath and I were waiting for a good day because we felt Beinn Eighe deserved it and with MWIS proclaiming over 90% cloud free summits for the Saturday it seemed like the day had come. :D

I have been totally honest about the time it took us from leaving the car to getting back - 12 hours. The most generous estimate for this route on WH is 9 hours and we were a bit surprised ourselves it took us so much longer. There are a number of reasons. First I'd been unwell and the day before was doubled up in pain thinking I'd have to call it off. But the combination of the wonderful weather and not wanting to let Kath down made me do it. Second it was hot so we took it in easy stages and spent a lot of time on the way up looking for water to keep the dog cool. Third I bottled it coming down the stone chute and took half an hour longer than I should have! :o

We decided to get the road walk over first so parked at the Coire Mhic Fhearchair car park and walked the 2km to the start of the Coire an Laoigh path.

Exit path down the Allt a Choire Dhuibh Mhoir between Liathach and Sail Mhor
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Cairn at start of Coire an Laoigh path, our ascent route
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Liathach from start of path
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I knew it was going to be warm and that I would have to carry extra water for the dogs so made the decision to leave Jack as he's been having issues with his joints and being a yellow lab is more prone to sun burn. You're supposed to put sun screen on their noses but they lick it straight off! :roll: So I was carrying extra water for Tess.

We'd only been going half an hour when we met a lady coming down. I asked her if she'd finished the round already and she said no she was coming back down as it was too hot to be going up there. She then pointed at Tess and asked if I was sure I should take her up in this heat and went on to tell me about her lurcher that had nearly died after walking the Beinn Eighe ridge on a day like this. :shock:

I thanked her for her warning and said we'd go on, keeping a close eye on Tess and cooling her at every water source we could access. To say I was concerned was putting it mildly. Every time we heard water we made a beeline for it and tried to get the mutt in there and preferably lying down - but she wasn't having any of that nonsense so I had to resort to spashing water on her undercarriage and over her head. It was all a big game to her. :lol:

Tess at one of many watering points
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In our water quest we found this brilliant green moss contrasting with the dry grey quartzite further up
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Coire an Laoigh and path up headwall to ridge
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View west to Liathach at cairn before final steep climb on to ridge
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View east from cairn
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The path from this cairn to the ridge proper wends its way up through quartzite scree but involves nothing uncomfortable. When we reached the trig point on the main ridge we found a group of people already there, some minding bags dumped by others who had gone on east to climb Spidean Coire nan Clach. We could see several stick people up there so decided this was a good point for first lunch and we'd head up when it was less like Saturday on Sauchiehall Street! :? I made sure Tess got a good drink from the water I was carrying, which she obligingly lapped up. Then just below the SCC summit I found a patch of snow and made snow balls which I tossed to Tess and she swallowed - so felt reassured she was well hydrated.

Summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach from trig point on main ridge
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Walkers heading up Spidean Coire nan Clach
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After about 20 minutes our patience was rewarded and we got the first Munro summit of the day briefly to ourselves. :D

At summit cairn of Spidean Coire nan Clach - this one for grandson Ben born two days earlier :clap:
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Kath at top of SCC. Cairn at top of path up headwall can be seen below her right elbow.
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Loch Maree and summit of Ruadh-stac Mhor on far left
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View west from top of SCC
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Ridge going west
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Rest of ridge going west
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Liathach is so photogenic
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Kath did geology at uni and was a fund of interesting snippets about the rock underfoot changing from the relatively-speaking younger quartzite to the older Torridonian sandstone. We noticed in many places a stippled effect on the sandstone like a bad case of acne. This was due to worm holes which had been filled in by quartzite and then the surrounding sandstone had been worn away leaving the more durable quartzite raised above the surface. Well I think that's the explanation... maybe she'll correct me if I've got it wrong! :D

Looking back up ridge at the change in colour from darker sandstone to lighter quartzite
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Heading west for Ruadh-stac Mhor
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The ridge we walked
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On the way up Coinneach Mhor a couple walking the opposite way warned us to watch the dog when we reached the grassy part as there was a bird nesting close to the path and the nest could easily be stood on. I did think to myself that human boot-clad feet were more of a threat to the nest than sure-footed dainty Tess's feet but I did call her close when we reached the spot - where we saw a bird but no nest.

We walked on past the cairn on Coinneach Mhor and found a comfy spot in the sun to reapply sun screen, water the dog and have second lunch. Then I wandered off further west to have a look at the top of the Triple Buttresses. All in all we were in leisurely mood and maybe didn't fully appreciate how far we still had to go.

Tess trying to hypnotise Kath into sharing her lunch
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I felt unusually tired at this point and fleetingly considered suggesting Kath did Ruadh-stac Mhor while I waited at the bealach above the stone chute. But it was only fleeting and I enjoyed the climb up the rocky steps on the first part of the climb, although felt vaguely concerned about the stone chute which looked worryingly steep and which was to be our way down. A friendly chap we had met earlier and dubbed Mr Chatty because he stood and chatted to everyone he met (only had 6 left to do so it must work for him!) was retracing his steps to descend by his ascent route of Coire an Laoigh. When I asked why he wasn't going down the stone chute he said he didn't feel up to it. That worried me. :shock: I tried not to think too much about it until I had to and we reached the top of Ruadh-stac Mhor with no difficulty - although it was very crowded around the summit.

Summit cairn of Ruadh-stac Mhor, highest point on Beinn Eighe
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View west from Ruadh-stac Mhor
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View across horse-shoe to east side of Beinn Eighe
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We retraced our steps to the bealach at the top of the stone chute and I put my camera in my rucksack so I wouldn't be encumbered with any extra appendages. I was worried about the steepness and looseness of the next part. I don't mind steep if it's solid but I don't like when what I put my feet on moves under me. But there was no alternative and I did want to pay a return visit to Coire Mhic Fhearchair and its lochan - last visited with my kids some 16 years earlier. I was also keen to photograph the Triple Buttresses which is why we did the walk in an anticlockwise direction to catch the cliffs in the afternoon light. I'd earlier been in touch with Black Panther about the advisabilty of descending the stone chute as I noticed she had twice gone up it (and I generally cope better going up tricky bits than coming down them). She was very helpful and said her hubby had been down the chute and found it okay with care. She also agreed the Triple Buttresses would photograph better in the afternoon light. So I told myself to man up and take it slowly.

The first part was not too bad. I was very slow but by edging along by the rock face on the right side I managed not too badly. It was when the slope widened out into a steep mass of scree I lost it. I could see Kath away down to the left of where I was (she had run down - very brave and nuts!). With hindsight I should have disregarded where she was and kept well to the right where grass at the edge of the scree gave a firmer footing and where I watched others coming down after I'd done my inelegant descent slithering half the time on my rear-end on disconcertingly moving rocks that were large and angular. I was in the wrong place and was well out of my comfort zone. But I guess it's character-forming and I just had to get on with it.

Then Kath shouted to me to get over to the left where the stones were smaller so I traversed over the rocks which was marginally better than going down them and found a kind of moving path of smaller stones and gravel. I eventually reached Kath who was patiently waiting for me at the bottom of the scree.

Scree slope and boulder field where I bottled it
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It was only when I got home I discovered that my undignified descent had done a mischief to my breeks! Not only was the seam split but there was a tear in the seat as well. :roll: Oh well, it's a small cost for the privilege of being in this amazing and awesome place.

I think I've reached my quota of photos so will add the remaining ones in a post.
Last edited by dogplodder on Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:49 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby doogz » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:25 pm

Wasn't sure what to think with the title but interesting......

I'm not sure I would keep a dog up there void of water source for so long ,but it's your dog

Lovely pics too

12 hours :shock:
At least you got your money's worth on such a nice hill

Ps
We went the other way due to going up the scree,if I returned I would take a straight line for the summit from the lochan ,steep, but read a few guys who found it far better than the scree

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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby dogplodder » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:31 pm

Lochan Coire Mhic Fhearchair from above
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Triple Buttress
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Triple Buttress with stone chute on left
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View west
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From the bottom of the scree to the lochan there were many small pools and waterfalls so if Tess had been feeling the heat she had plenty of chance to cool off.

At no point on the walk did she seem distressed or uncomfortable, although the next day when I examined her paws she had several worn patches on the pads. The rock is so abrasive I think I would agree with Bod who had his lab Ritche with him on Beinn Eighe that it's not an ideal place for dogs unless they are used to walking on abrasive rock.

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West side of Liathach
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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby jimandandrea » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:53 pm

Wow.We were there in Feb - your weather was a bit better!! Oh for a day like that on a hill like that. :clap: :clap:
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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby BobMcBob » Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:32 pm

Nice report! I was there last year and have been wondering what those lumps on the sandstone were ever since! I sent a photo to my aunt who did a Geology degree at the O.U. - she sent them off to an expert but never seems to have got a reply. I'll tell her I know now :D
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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby emily_b » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:11 am

I've walked round the base of all three Torridon giants - yet to climb any!

I think this would be a lovely place to start

Thanks for posting :)
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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby prkanne » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:17 am

Looks like a wonderful day. I loved this hill. I took my 2 setters up Ben Eighe and they had a ball, but did it the other way round to you. Either way the stone chute is hard work. It did mean the 2 dogs had worn off most of the bounce so were more amenable to being sensible on the top.
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There were 2 stags on the way down really close to the path who took no notice of us which confused the hell out of the dogs. Fortunately, I saw them first so there was no mad careering after them.
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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:51 am

doogz wrote:
I'm not sure I would keep a dog up there void of water source for so long ,but it's your dog

12 hours :shock:
At least you got your money's worth on such a nice hill

Doogz


It was certainly a concern but I was carrying double rations of water and she seemed to be fine. The 12 hours shocked us as well. Think we dilly dallied too much but you're right we did get our money's worth out of such a great hill! :D
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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby Johnny Corbett » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:18 am

This is without doubt one of the most stunning areas of Scotland and as you said deserves to be walked in fine weather. I too spend a lot of childhood summers at Gairloch in mum and dads caravan, didn't fully appreciate it at the time but it's probably what got me hooked on hillwalking :D
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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:06 pm

jimandandrea wrote:Wow.We were there in Feb - your weather was a bit better!! Oh for a day like that on a hill like that. :clap: :clap:


I'm not sure I'd fancy it in snow and ice - especially the stone chute. :shock:
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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:19 pm

BobMcBob wrote:Nice report! I was there last year and have been wondering what those lumps on the sandstone were ever since! I sent a photo to my aunt who did a Geology degree at the O.U. - she sent them off to an expert but never seems to have got a reply. I'll tell her I know now :D


Here's a quote from the free on line encyclopedia.

"Some of the peaks, such as Beinn Eighe, are capped with white Cambrian quartzite, giving them a distinctive appearance when seen from afar. Some of the quartzite contains fossilized worm burrows and is known as pipe rock."

The lumps we saw were on the sandstone and were supposedly the quartzite that had filled in the worm burrows and become fossilised and are now standing proud of the softer sandstone. Interesting stuff. 8)
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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby pollyh33 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:31 pm

Brilliant report Kathleen-again!!! :clap: :clap: :clap:


Your photographs are so so good!!

I opted out of geology at uni, wish I hadn't now!!! It must have been fantastic having all those weird and wonderful patterns and structures explained to your properly :thumbup:

Well done for taking your dog up on the hills, I find it difficult enough being responsible for me, never mind your faithful companion!!! :crazy: :crazy:
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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:04 pm

emily_b wrote:I've walked round the base of all three Torridon giants - yet to climb any!

I think this would be a lovely place to start



Think I found Beinn Alligin slightly easier - but they're both great and with fabulous views! :D
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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:05 pm

prkanne wrote:Looks like a wonderful day. I loved this hill. I took my 2 setters up Ben Eighe and they had a ball, but did it the other way round to you. Either way the stone chute is hard work. It did mean the 2 dogs had worn off most of the bounce so were more amenable to being sensible on the top.


Nice shot of your setter enjoying the view!
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Re: Death threat and split pants on Beinn Eighe

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:17 pm

What an adventure on my favourite mountain :clap: :clap: :clap: I'm sorry to hear that you had problems on the stone chute, and big apologies if my advice wasn't sufficient... But they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger :wink: Thank you for taking me back to my ever favourite hill... if only for a short while.
I'm just back from Liathach, falling asleep gazing at the computer screen :lol: :lol: This one is much worse than Beinn Eighe and much more scrambling involved, not to mention the exposure. I'm so glad I conquered this beast! Will be posting my story layer this week :D
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