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Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?


Postby dogplodder » Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:41 pm

Route description: The Saddle, Forcan Ridge and Sgurr na Sgine

Munros included on this walk: The Saddle

Date walked: 11/08/2012

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The Saddle and Sgurr na Sgine were the only Kintail Munros I'd yet to climb so with a willing bunch of friends and MWIS promising 90% cloud free summits for north west I felt the time had come. :D I spent a bit of time studying the options. With knees that don't like walking downhill the steep unrelenting descent off the north east ridge of Faochag was a worry so I wondered about reversing the WH route and going up it. "Treadmill" some on here said and a good friend pointed out that going down the Forcan ridge when tired at the end of the day might not be a good idea. :o

I wasn't sure if I was up to the Forcan ridge or not but I was sure some of the group would want to do it so for that reason I came back to the WH route going up the stalker's path to the col between Biod an Fhithich and Meallan Odhar.

We parked in the layby just west of the start of the path and got ourselves booted up and covered with sun screen. I'd warned the group to bring plenty of fluids and brought an extra bottle incase anyone ran out. The seven of us were in good spirits as we started up the path. :thumbup:

Kath, Bregtje, Anna, David, Ewan, James
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It's a good path that zig zags up the hillside giving lovely views of the glen below.

Glen Shiel looking west
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It then traverses to the col where you take a sharp left turn. At this point the Forcan ridge comes into view for the first time and on the day we were there looked impressively steep and jagged like the profile of a giant fossilised stegosaurus against an alpine blue sky.

First sighting of the famous Forcan ridge
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It looked a challenge but I knew if the group were up for it I would jump at the chance. We wouldn't get a better day for it than this. But I wasn't sure if everyone was keen and I didn't want to pressure anyone who wasn't sure. So I said I was happy to do the ridge or take the lower path by the wall - I didn't mind which. One of the girls said she thought she might prefer the lower path so I agreed she and I would do that while the others went for the ridge. But when we stopped for a pre ridge bite to eat I took off my newly buffed up wedding ring and put it in a safe place so I wouldn't scratch it on the scrambles! :roll: Talk about mixed messages to myself!

Biod an Fhithich from Meallan Odhar
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When we got to the dividing of the ways the start of the ridge looked so inviting (I know, crazy) I really wanted to do it. I looked at Bregtje and said "What do you think?". Probably knowing fine I wanted to do it she sportingly agreed and we were off, all seven of us.

Start of ridge
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The first scrambling was easy with lots of choice for hand and foot holds and the rock dry and grippy. We didn't all go up the same way but each picked our route. I've never been a sporty or athletic type, not as agile as I once was, pushing 65, and in the words of Garrison Keiller pushing it kind of hard.... But this was great fun! :D

Looking east down Glen Shiel
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Above the first rocky steps there's a level grassy area where we stopped to identify some of the peaks around and I got out my summit map to help with the names.

Sgurr na Sgine from Forcan ridge
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There's a lot of steep upping and downing and some sections of scrambling with a fair bit of exposure but the holds are good. A few times I couldn't immediately see how to negotiate the next bit but my son David appointed himself my guardian and showed me where to put my feet. Someone telling you what to do is a great confidence booster and the tricky sections were soon passed. Before we knew it we had reached the top of the down climb or bad step as it's sometimes referred to. I didn't realise that's where we were and was about to start down the middle when Kath called to me not to go that way but down the chute to the side. I knew at this point the advice was to take the gully to the left and I'd told the others that but not realising that's where we were I saw a muddy chimney going down to the right which I edged my way down. It wasn't a place for a slip but with care was okay and Bregtje followed me.

We all chose different routes at this point. Ewan was first there and went down the middle. When Kath got there she called to Ewan did he recommend the middle route and he said no so she went down the left gully as did James and Anna. David didn't see this option and went down steep grass as far as the wall and climbed back up beyond the bad step and Bregtje and I used the muddy rake on the right.

Anna (pink dot) taking photo of us from top of the 'bad step'
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The photo Anna took of 5 of us on ridge beyond the bad step
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Once over that obstacle I felt euphoric as this was the bit that had most concerned me. But there was still a way to go and it looked impossibly steep! :shock:
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Loch Duich from Forcan ridge
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Care was needed on the next section as the ridge in places was a rocky knife edge. We found ourselves doubling over to hold on to rock because this would not be a good place to stumble or trip! In places there was a choice of climbing up and over rocky pinnacles or round the side by narrow ledges. I didn't at any point feel nervous but you did have to concentrate on where you were putting your feet. The last part before the summit was steep and scrambly and I couldn't see what was up there until I topped out so it was great to discover this was the summit cairn which I'm led to believe is the true top rather than the trig point.

We conquered the Forcan ridge! :clap:
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Anna's summit one to prove I was there. Was I the only one needing to sit down? :lol:
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Anna with South Glen Shiel ridge snaking away to the left and Sgurr na Sgine to the right
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My son on the phone to his wife :angel:
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Next we're going over there to the trig point
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Tiny lochan west of summit
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Looking west to Beinn Sgritheall and distant Cuillin ridge
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The Brothers ridge on the right merging into the Sisters ridge on the left
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Don't know what they were talking about but this mountain seems to give folk attitude!
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We now had to decide if we would stick with the original plan and go on to climb Sgurr na Sgine. There were two deciding factors. Some of the group were keen to get back in good time to watch the Olympics but what clinched it was that Bregtje's knees were by now very sore and she certainly didn't want to climb another hill. That took the pressure off us time wise so we headed down to a grassy area beside an attractive lochan for our third and most leisurely lunch of the day :D where Ewan was persuaded to tell the story of when he was swept down a waterfall and lost his car keys! :shock:

Lochan where we had a leisurely lunch
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Forcan ridge from start of the descent
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Bealach Coire Mhalagain and the start of the ascent of Sgurr na Sgine
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David making a video for his four little boys back home
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By keeping over to the right we avoided most of the boulder field before heading for the line of the wall. At this point Ewan (who was in no hurry and returning to Lochcarron) headed down to the lochan in the bealach before climbing the ridge to Sgurr na Sgine. Once we reached the wall the path was not at all clear and if it hadn't been for the wall I wouldn't have been sure we were on it! :? It certainly wasn't the leg-swinging easy walking I'd imagined the lower alternative path to be and I was so glad we'd all used the ridge route on the way up! It was a bit of an obstacle course in places.

Rough path along wall leading round to the outgoing path over Meallan Odhar
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Once we reached the main path it was easier walking but several of the group were feeling pain in their knees. So we took the descent at an easy pace - but were still back in good time for the Olympics! It was a fabulous day and a privilege to climb the Forcan ridge with a group who all looked out for one another in the way they did. :thumbup:
Last edited by dogplodder on Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby monty » Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:46 pm

Superb Dogplodder. Awesome scenery in great weather. lovely photos. :D
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby rockhopper » Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:04 am

Enjoyed your report and photos - was also up this way that day but think I must have got there after you. It certainly was a great day for it - cheers :)
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby soulminer » Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:56 am

Particularly good day for it 8) :lol:
Still to revisit for the ridge itself, did it on a bagging mission. Climbed Faogach first, SnS next then onto the Saddle and down beside the wall. Looks like a pretty good day out :)
Cheers.
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby Mountainlove » Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:02 am

Lol had to laugfh about taking jewellery off...wish I would remember that easch time I climb...managed to get a new watch scratched :( Great photos and it looked like a fun day!
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:56 pm

Well done! :clap: :clap: :clap: And what a day :D
Still have to do the Forcan Ridge - I think I'll manage the scramble, I guess it would be a good confidence training before Aonach Eagach...
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby hills » Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:57 pm

Fantastic, well done to you, and thanks for the super photos, not sure if I will do this (or not :roll: ).
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby dogplodder » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:45 pm

monty wrote:Superb Dogplodder. Awesome scenery in great weather. lovely photos. :D


Thanks Monty. :D

Hope you're fully recovered now from recent exploits.... It sounded grim in the extreme. :?
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby dogplodder » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:48 pm

rockhopper wrote:Enjoyed your report and photos - was also up this way that day but think I must have got there after you. It certainly was a great day for it - cheers :)


I read your report in awe and wonder.... By the time you got to the Saddle you'd already climbed 8 Munros - and in that heat too! :clap:
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby Alan S » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:58 pm

Excellent dogplodder I love the Forcan ridge, well done great pics 8)
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby dogplodder » Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:36 am

soulminer wrote:Particularly good day for it 8) :lol:
Still to revisit for the ridge itself, did it on a bagging mission. Climbed Faogach first, SnS next then onto the Saddle and down beside the wall. Looks like a pretty good day out :)
Cheers.


Yes, great day for it. How was it climbing Faogach? It was partly reading your report put that idea into my head. I want to get back up to bag Sgurr na Sgine so any suggestions for varying the route? In some ways would rather go up steep and unrelenting than come down it - out of deference to the old knees! :? :D
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby dogplodder » Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:20 am

Mountainlove wrote:Lol had to laugfh about taking jewellery off...wish I would remember that easch time I climb...managed to get a new watch scratched :( Great photos and it looked like a fun day!


Too bad about your new watch. :? I wouldn't normally bother about scratching my ring only it's just been resized and nicely buffed up so it seemed a shame.
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby soulminer » Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:57 pm

dogplodder wrote:
In some ways would rather go up steep and unrelenting than come down it - out of deference to the old knees!

I had it in my mind to try that route for ages. It is an unremitting slog, but the views on the way up are stunning and they just keep getting better :lol: I am sure you will enjoy it :thumbup:
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby morag1 » Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:51 pm

Wow Kathleen, cant be many 65year olds who have climbed the Forcan Ridge, well done :clap:

I think next time I look you'll be on the AE :shock:
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Re: Forcan ridge - will we or won't we?

Postby dogplodder » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:38 pm

BlackPanther wrote:Still have to do the Forcan Ridge - I think I'll manage the scramble, I guess it would be a good confidence training before Aonach Eagach...


You will have no problem with this scramble BP if you've done Liathach - which you have! :D
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