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Baboons backsides on the Fannaichs Middle Three

Baboons backsides on the Fannaichs Middle Three

Postby PeteR » Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:23 pm

Route description: Sgurr nan Clach Geala, near Braemore

Munros included on this walk: Meall a' Chrasgaidh, Sgurr nan Clach Geala, Sgurr nan Each

Date walked: 29/07/2012

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Another "catch-up" walk report, from before the sun made a reappearance

It had seemed like such a long time since I have been out on a long Munro walk. I’ve had a couple of short, Corbett walks recently, but was itching to get out on a good “leg stretcher”. The weather hadn't looked like it wanted to oblige and give me perfect conditions (thundery showers and a risk of lightening appeared to be on offer :shock:), but I was hell bent on getting myself out.

The choice was the three “middle” Fannaichs of Meall a‘ Chrasgaidh, Sgurr nan Clach Geala and Sgurr nan Each – and in that order too hopefully. I can’t say that I was totally full of enthusiasm when the alarm went off, but I dragged my sorry backside out of bed and got myself moving. The good thing about a 4 a.m. start on a Sunday morning is that the roads are practically empty and it wasn’t long before I was motoring up the A9 and beyond, eventually parking up at the start of the walk just after 8 a.m. Approaching the start of the route for the Eastern Fannaichs I’d driven through quite some shower, so wasn’t confident I’d actually be getting out the car when I arrived at the start of my walk.

By then the worst was over and patches of blue sky were appearing. Even the tops of the Fannaichs were clearing, so I was feeling pretty confident I might actually get some cloud free action.
And we're off......between showers

The ruined lodge........currently under repair

Since returning home I realise I should have paid more attention to the WH route description, as it seems I should have headed off the main stalkers path once crossing the footbridge by the Loch a Bhraoin and headed toward an unmarked footbridge over the Allt Breabaig, which would have seen me heading off for the steep climb up Meall a‘ Chrasgaidh. Crossing the footbridge at the lochan I instead continued along the stalkers path with the expectation I’d be fording the stream a bit further on. The river though was chucking out some volume of water, making for a very impressive set of water tumbling over rocks. There was no way though when I arrived at the ford that I was going across at that point, as the quantity of water was too great and the flow too fast.
Allt Breabaig

Sgurr Breac on the walk in

Allt Breabaig again........still no chance of a crossing

Instead I found myself walking up the pass on the opposite side of the stream to the hills I was wanting to climb, looking for any possible chance to cross. It soon became apparent I wasn’t going to be crossing the water any time soon so a change of plans was required. I’d now be heading to the saddle between the middle and Western Fannaichs and tackling Sgurr nan Each first. Cue a bit of a bog trot over a grass and a developing path before eventually picking up the stalkers path near the saddle.
Let the "fun" begin.....

Arriving at the saddle I was pleased to discover a stone shelter to, well shelter in as the heavens opened on me. It gave me a few moments to check out the map and recky my route up to Cadha na Guite. I’d surveyed this slope descending down off Sgurr Breac back in April time when I was o the two far western Fannaichs. At that time it had looked horribly steep, but on tackling it the initial slope today didn’t seem too bad.
Misty "view" into the Fannaich forest

Sgurr Breac again

Higher up though things did steepen and my heart sank when I looked at the final section up to the saddle. Maybe it was the clag swirling about, but the wall of rock ahead of me just looked steeper than I was expecting it to be – certainly it looked more of a mission than it had while I had been sheltering from the downpour a short while earlier. In retrospect I think I may actually have been drawn to my right a little in the mist and was probably closer to the crags on the side of Cadh a Bhocain rather than the Cadha na Guite saddle itself.

Anyway, I was where I was...........and proceeded at this point to make a “baboon’s backside” of the rest of the climb up onto Sgurr nan Each as I became inflicted with severe bout of indecision. Should I attempt to breach the wall up ahead, or take a rising traverse to the right and pick up the saddle on the opposite side of the Sgurr nan Each summit? First this way and then that I eventually ended up doing neither as I took a direct route up to the Sgurr nan Each summit plateau. Thankfully it was mainly short grass and wasn’t too steep (but steep enough all the same :shock:). I can only put the episode down to a bout of “clag blindness” as I wandered in the bleakness :lol:

Sadly no reaching the summit there were no views, which was to be the story of the day for the rest of the ridge :(
Sgurr nan Each summit........eventually :(

But Sgurr nan Each did give me something – a path to follow :D What bliss after my comical climb up to the summit.
The path off Sgurr nan Each

Descent off the hill was easy and nearing the bottom I heard voices :think: What, there were other people as mad as me out on a day like this? :lol: Apparently yes, as two young lads appeared out of the mist ahead of me. Stopped for a quick chat - seemed they were on a couple of nights camping, which was a shame given the weather :thumbdown: These were to be the only other people I saw for the rest of the day, until getting back to my car (two more people as mad as me, but this time out on A’Chailleach and Sgurr Breac)

The climb up onto Sgurr nan Clach Geala was something of a trudge. Partly down to it not being the summits “best side” perhaps and partly the lack of any sort of focal point in all the clag. Often though throughout the day the sun did threaten to break through the cloud, but it never quite had enough ooommmpphhh to do it :( And that was certainly the case up this ridge. The odd “view” would appear from time to time when the cloud swirled about a bit, but it never seemed to clear long enough for me to get my camera out, switch it on and press the button before the clag rolled in and the view disappeared :evil:
Misty view into Coireag Cadh a'Bhocain and the Allt a'Choire Mhoir

The less than exciting route up the hill

Eventually though I was on the summit of the second Munro of the day and seemingly making better time than I perhaps could have hoped when I had been faffing about earlier :D
Sgurr nan Clach Geala

Looking back at the route down the hill

Still nothing to see, so I was soon on my way down the nice steep ridge to Meall a’Chrasgaidh. A bit of a shame I couldn’t see much, as I was probably missing the real joy of probably the best feature of this ridge walk :( The mist and dampness gave me plenty to think about though as some of the rocks seemed a bit wet and slippery and I was being careful to make sure nothing “unfortunate” occurred.

Soon enough though I was down by the small lochan and taking the opportunity for a quick rest in the nearby shelter. Time enough to check the route on the map and check which direction to go before the gentle climb to my final Munro on this trip, Meall a‘ Chrasgaidh. Got perhaps my best view of the ridge at this point as I sat in the shelter :lol: :lol:
What a view !!

I have to say the climb to Meall a‘ Chrasgaidh seemed to be very gradual indeed and I was soon at the summit and greeted by a pretty disappointing summit cairn. Still no views from the top, so I was planning a quick decent down to the Allt Breabaig and back to the car.
My route up to Number 3 of the day

Checking my compass again and something didn’t add up. I was expecting to leave the summit in a westerly direction, but my compass suggested that would take me almost the way I had come. That wasn’t right :? There was a path ahead and to the right, but that was east and that wasn’t right either :?

“Ooopps” I thought. I wasn’t on Meall a‘ Chrasgaidh was I :oops: :oops: :oops: It seems I may have become “temporarily misplaced” :lol: :lol: A quick gander at the map confirmed this, as I discovered I had found my way on to the minor top Carn na Criche on the way to Sgurr Mor. Now, I loved Sgurr Mor when I was there before, but I wasn’t looking to revisit it quite so quickly :lol:

The thing was, sitting in the shelter earlier with map and compass in hand eyes and brain had clocked what I should have done, but legs seemed to have had other ideas :lol: Having made a “baboon’s backside” earlier climbing Sgurr nan Each I now proceeded to repeat the experience heading off Carn na Criche toward Meall a‘ Chrasgaidh :oops: So, with map and compass in hand again, eyes and brain could see I should head off the hill in a westerly direction to get me to Meall a‘ Chrasgaidh. So it was perhaps no surprise to me that the legs set me off in a northerly direction :lol:

Not too steep at first on grass. Getting a bit steeper though. Yep, definitely getting a bit steeper. Rocks too. Mmmm. nice :shock: Quite slippery rocks actually :shock: :shock: And then, as I dropped out of the cloud I was presented with this.........
Well, I wasn't expecting to see this!!

The “rubber ducky” Loch a’Mhadaidh. I have to admit that with cloud swirling about it all looked nicely mean and moody :D And I could even see my intended target of Meall a‘ Chrasgaidh as the mist swirled :lol: Now I had to decide. Head back up to the summit of Carn na Criche and retrace my steps back? The thought didn’t fill me with much (any!!) enthusiasm. Or there was my trusty friend the rising traverse....this time to Am Burach. Oh yes, I love a rising traverse, so off I went. Very wet ground, decidedly boggy in places and slippery rocks too. Heaven only know what I was putting my hands in, steadying myself as I made my way round, but I’d already walked myself into the manure by not trusting my map and compass so I really couldn’t complain could I if I put my hand in some :lol: :lol:

In truth it didn’t take too long to get back to the saddle and the final climb of the day. Nothing to note. Just grass and clag, before the cairn of Meall a‘ Chrasgaidh eventually peeked out of the mist :D
Clag, clag and more clag

At last, the "actual" final summit of the day!!

From here it was the decent back down to the Allt Breabaig to see whether the ford looked any easier than it had first thing.

Easy decent at first, but steep for the final third or so. Picked my way down carefully, without any dramas. The sight of Loch a’Bhraoin felt magical, given the temporary misplacement earlier :D
Mean and moody clouds as I lose height off the hills

View back from where I had been earlier on

Some rock "art"

Loch a’Bhraoin

Arriving at the ford and the water seemed quite a bit lower than earlier so I marched across without any hassle.
Allt Breabaig on the return

Soon after that the heavens opened and I got a nice soaking on the final short walk back to the car. Probably deserved :lol: :lol:
Rain clouds really setting in. Thank goodness I was out of there now

So ended my third expedition into the Fannaichs. Despite the clag, baboons backsides and finding myself temporarily misplaced at one point I actually really enjoyed my day out, with three more in the bag :D :D :D
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Re: Baboons backsides on the Fannaichs Middle Three

Postby rockhopper » Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:39 pm

Wow - bit of an adventure there Pete - pity about the weather especially after such a long drive. Can remember getting not dissimilar conditions but think I was lucky to get some more views. I did manage to see some ptarmigan but no baboons though :wink: Still, at least you enjoyed it - cheers :)
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