Cuillins - Sgurr a Mhadaidh 918m and Sgurr a Ghreadaidh 973m
by scottishkennyg » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:14 pm
Munros included on this walk: Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh, Sgurr a'Mhadaidh
Date walked: 01/03/2013
Time taken: 6.5 hours3 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Apologies for photos quality as I had some difficulties uploading..
An opportunity arose to get onto the Cuillins and it was gladly taken. As I turned into the Carbost road I noticed a nice new statue.
I drove along Glen Brittle with the impressive peaks emerging from the clouds.
I parked outside the closed youth hostel and set off up the sound path into Coire a Ghreadaidh. After about 30 minutes the feint track heading up an Diallaid and on to Sgurr na Banachdich was reached. This was to be the contingency plan. I decided to continue up to Coire and Dorus.
Spectacular views opened up with each metre of height gained. Rocky buttresses, gorges, scree, gulleys, chasms, waterfalls and sharp ridges.
At the final grass section it was now possible to get a full open view of An Dorus (the door).
The route ahead was steep and covered with hard packed snow. It was time to put on the real winter gear. Crampons and Ice axe required. These are not the hills for experimenting with yaktrax pro walkers or micro spikes.
Cutting an edge up the steepening slopes provided ample time to contemplate winter walking techniques. With ice axe leading, edging in carefully and walking like John Wayne cautious progress was made. An appropriate moment for a quick recollection of the Mountaineering Council for Scotland’s MCofS (Roger Wild) ice axe self- arrest techniques and how to correct a fall as viewed on you tube.
Quickly decided it was time to stem negative thoughts as height was gained and the run out distance increased. After a quick breather at the only rock on the climb I pushed on to reach the door. Aye it was a door alright with another steep and rocky exit route with a snow arête.
Recovery break opportunity. I dumped the rucksack on the rocks and climbed up on to the snow covered ridge toward SaM. I picked a route up on the left hand side as this appeared the safer route.
Some scrambling required over some exposed rocks before reaching the small summit and cairn. (3 hours)
I picked a route back down to the door and opted to continue up to SaG.
I edged along the narrow exposed section at the door then up onto the ridge.
I proceeded up the sharp ridge carefully selecting solid ground over ice and rock. After about ten minutes I passed the other passage through the rocks (Eag Dubh). I decided to load up on calories at this point. I made a small donation of a bread roll to the crows and placed the rucksack at the gap.
I continued upward clinging to the ridge line to avoiding the ice sheets. I passed by the right hand side of the tower of rock called the wart just before reaching the summit crest and cairn.
As I sat perched on the ridge summit the misty view across to the south top suggested that it was higher and I might not be back up here. So I decided to continue along the ridge to this top. This was extreme scrambling territory. I would say that in my humble opinion it is the most exposed section of ridge that I have encountered on all of the hills that I have been fortunate enough to be on.
Some of the hand holds on the garbo rocks were fine but others were loose and covered in ice. The gullies on either side just seemed to drop vertically into an abyss. No time to consider self arrest measures. There was no way that I would have attempted this section without the proper equipment. A fall here is a fatality. Do not underestimate this section. Hopefully some of the photos will illustrate the exposed nature of the ridge.
The views from the south top were haunting. The air was still and the clouds were just hovering. I had a quiet moment for an absent work colleague who passed away last week after a fall on Ben Nevis. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
Then it was time to focus on the return to the main summit ridge and to get down safely. The return leg up south ridge was extremely tricky and does require a good head for heights and sure footing. I would not like to be on this ridge if it was busy or if the wind was strong.
After about 25 minutes I was back at the Munro Cairn for a well-earned rest. I descended the crest to the black notch to uplift my rucksack. I entered the gulley and immediately felt the ground slide and could not get my crampons to dig in. No way!!!!. I cut a couple of steps and backed out and decided to return via the An Dorus route.
The angle felt much steeper now and the run out for self-arrest seemed miles away. I inched downwards and traversed widely to enable a solid grip on the ice axe. On the final descent I tripped, my right crampon caught the strap on the left ankle gaitor and I was over. I gripped the ice axe and slammed in the point, knees bent and arrested the slide in couple of metres. Not text book but it worked. I did not get the chance to put the axe across the body and press my weight on to it. But I stopped the slide. So I picked up the glasses and edged down the remainder of the steep section before following the snow line to reach the grass. One more smaller tumble later and it was back on solid ground. Definitely not easy to walk with a bow legged gait to accommodate the crampons. Random thought, about how this style of gait contradicts the advice for lady’s when they are told to look after their haepenny…lol.
On the way back to the hostel the sun broke through the clouds and provided more opportunities for photographs. Unfortunately not enough space to post them so just one last one looking over the Soay Sound..
Safely back at the car after 6.5 hours it was time for on a final reflection on what was another unforgettable day on the Cuillins. The views on the exit drive were magnificent and required a stop to savour.
Then it was out of the glen just before darkness, a full signal on the mobile and time for a large fish supper at the Broadford Chipper before the long drive home.
by Valerie » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:31 am
by Bod » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:35 am
by johnkaysleftleg » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:44 am
by scottishkennyg » Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:13 pm
monty wrote:That sounded awesome but i couldn't see the photos. I will revisit in a couple of days .
Sorry technical hiccup managed to put some inages on now..
by Valerie » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:31 pm
by scottishkennyg » Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:10 pm
Valerie wrote:Great pics that show how narrow and scary it is We done these 2 last summer with plenty of clag but don't think I would ever be brave enough to go into the Cuillin in winter. We did come down Eag Dubh and it was fine, almost preferable to dropping back into An Dorus but again it was the middle of summer
Thanks Valerie, enjoyed the report that you guys posted too.
by Bod » Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:54 pm