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What a Forcan Ridge!

What a Forcan Ridge!


Postby simon-b » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:50 pm

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

Munros included on this walk: Sgurr na Sgine, The Saddle

Date walked: 30/08/2012

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 13 km

Ascent: 1350m

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After three days of wet, windy weather in Kintail, conditions finally improved on Thursday 30 August and I was ready to take on the ridge I'd looked forward to for quite a while. I parked in the layby just east of Malagan Bridge, otherwise the way was basically as per WH route description.

Looking up, the ridge was just visible behind Faochag and Meallan Odhar.

P8300116.JPG


After rounding Meallan Odhar by the stalkers' path there was a good prospect of the ridge.

P8300118.JPG


As I approached the ridge the drama ahead began to unfold.

P8300123.JPG


Moving onto the ridge, great views in retrospect and sideways revealed themselves.

P8300129.JPG


P8300131.JPG


Following the crest, one section was taken a cheval.

P8300133.JPG


So onwards and upwards.

P8300136.JPG


I reached the top of Sgurr nan Forcan, and arrived at the well publicised descent pitch.

P8300138.JPG


To this point I'd largely taken the ridge full on rather than use the bypasses, and I'd thought of climbing down this pitch. But the lower section looked like a sheer drop, and I couldn't see what sort of holds were down there. So I chose discretion as the better part of valour and used the left hand dodge route. And so back onto the ridge and on towards the Saddle.

P8300141.JPG


At this point I looked back at that descent pitch...

P8300142.JPG


...and if I'd been with a guide and on a rope, I could have managed that. But on my own and not secured, I felt my discretion had been justified. Perhaps that had already relegated my scramble from Grade 2 to Grade 1, and I was ready to get moving to the summit. So I quickly bypassed the next knife-edge by a path on the left.

P8300143.JPG


I reached the north-east top of the Saddle, with a fine view west over to Skye.

P8300151.JPG


I looked on to the south-east top and the trig point, and made my way there along the summit ridge.

P8300154.JPG


At this point, I must sat that An Diollaid, a.k.a. the Saddle, is one of the finest mountains I've ever climbed, and the Forcan one of the greatest ascent routes I've done.

On the summit ridge there were good views around Loch a' Coire Uaine.

P8300156.JPG


P8300157.JPG


Next I dropped down to Bealach Coire Mhalagain, and just beyond it's lochan I encountered maryhillmoose from the WH forum. She'd done the Forcan too, and like me had taken parts of the ridge full on but dodged the descent pitch, which she reckoned she too would have managed with a rope.

And so on towards Sgurr na Sgine.

P8300161.JPG


On reaching the summit of this second Munro, a magnificent panorama unfolded.

South Glen Shiel Ridge:

P8300164.JPG


Knoydart:

P8300166.JPG


The Lochaber giants:

P8300167.JPG


South over the head of Loch Hourn:

P8300172.JPG


Back to the Saddle and the Forcan:

P8300170.JPG


The Sisters and Brothers of Kintail, and in front of them, my next target, Faochag:

P8300169.JPG


So I made my way over Faochag, and began the steep descent.

P8300182.JPG


Further down, with a bird's eye view of the glen, I could make out the layby where I had parked.

P8300187.JPG


Yet further down, the path became muddy and slippery. Typically, after avoiding any mishaps on the Forcan Ridge, right at the final hurdle I went flying and landed on my backside in the mud :lol: .

The clear path led to the Allt Mhalagain, but there was no footbridge here, and the burn was a bit too full to ford comfortably:

P8300192.JPG


I made my way nearly 200 metres upstream to the footbridge at NG 970 134, which now has no parapets, and the paths to it appear to be falling out of use. I wonder how long this bridge will remain secure, and if it will be maintained in future. But I crossed it with no problem, and was soon back at my car.

This had been a truly amazing day in the mountains. I went back to Innis a' Chro and my B and B, and got showered and changed. Then I went for a fine evening meal at the Jacobite Restaurant, sitting at a table with a beautiful view over Loch Duich :D .
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby rockhopper » Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:46 pm

Good stuff simon - really must get back for this some time as I missed it last time. And another day of good weather, no wonder you had such a great time !

simon-b wrote:Following the crest, one section was taken a cheval.
:lol: a foot on each site or sitting down sliding along as well ? :wink: - cheers :)
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby monty » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:49 am

Nice report Simon. Photos are superb. :D
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby basscadet » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:53 am

Wow, your pics are amazing :thumbup:

As always, I did this in rain and clag.. The rocks are right slippery over in Glen Shiel when it rains was the lesson of that weekend :lol:
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby Fudgie » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:54 am

When you look at this on Google Earth, someone has uploaded a picture of it covered in snow and it looks amazing :D

Well done Simon, that looks like a great day out.
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby simon-b » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:26 pm

Thanks very much for the comments.

Rockhopper, two days good weather out of eight isn't bad, I guess. You certainly had better conditions than me for S. Glen Shiel ridge. But at least the midges stayed away. The a cheval bit involved a bit of shuffling (without a saddle, ironically).

Cheers Monty, photos can only be as good as the view they capture. The panorama from Sgurr na Sgine was superb.

Basscadet, you do pick some conditions for these sharp ridges, don't you? My heart nearly stopped when I read about your tumble on the way to CMD from the Ben, goodness knows what your heart did! We've all been up in rough weather, although I tend to wait for a calm day if I'm going to have sheer drops close on both sides. But I admire your spirit of adventure.

Fudgie, I bet it would be a great route to do in winter conditions, properly equipped of course.
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby Johnny Corbett » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:36 pm

Another superb report Simon. I never got the chance to do these two when i spent a week in Kintail in August but so looking forward to doing them. :D
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby simon-b » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:46 pm

Johnny Corbett wrote:Another superb report Simon. I never got the chance to do these two when i spent a week in Kintail in August but so looking forward to doing them. :D


Cheers Johnny. I hope you get good weather when you do this, you'll love it.
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby davedanson28 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:49 pm

Cracking photos Simon! :clap:
Enjoyed the read, well done. :D
Looking forward to getting up into these hills, hopefully very soon! :wink:
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby Stuart Angus » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:51 pm

What a forcan report..............very cool 8) I'll make sure I do this on a nice day 8)
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby Gavin99 » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:20 am

Great stuff Simon , some lovely photos there and good detail of the ridge , sounds like a fine day :D
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby jwramsay » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:53 pm

Great report and top forcan title!
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby simon-b » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:10 pm

Thanks again, everyone.

Dave, you'll enjoy these. Usually I'd be wary about taking a 6 year old somewhere like the Forcan ridge, but your little lad may well be an exception. I bet he'll be nagging you to take him onto the ridge if he sees it!

Stuart, if you get good weather it'll be a very nice day :D .

Gavin, I hope the detail might prove useful.

JW, I hope this helps to tempt you onto some Munros north of the Great Glen, the scenery is amazing up there.

PS. I've since read in Bill Birkett's book, Great British Ridge Walks, that the descent pitch on the ridge looks much worse than it is. I should have taken it on!
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby L-Hiking » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:31 pm

Simon

Great report with some stunning pics, that pitch does look scary, Well done :clap:
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Re: What a Forcan Ridge!

Postby simon-b » Sat Sep 08, 2012 7:45 pm

L-Hiking wrote:Simon

Great report with some stunning pics, that pitch does look scary, Well done :clap:


Thanks, LH, but bypassing that pitch wasn't scary.
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