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The steepest Munro ever

The steepest Munro ever


Postby BlackPanther » Mon Mar 18, 2013 1:55 pm

Route description: Beinn Sgritheall

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Sgritheall

Date walked: 06/03/2013

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 13.5 km

Ascent: 1282m

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It's been almost 20 years since Kevin first climbed Beinn Sgritheall and in his memories, the hill was just "a quickie up and down". But one look at the map made me feel dizzy - it looked like the steepest mountain in my career :?
Kevin said "Do you remember Bealach an Lapain on the way up to the 5 Sisters? it's something very similar, just a few hundred metres higher." :shock:
Ha-ha-ha!
Yet I wasn't going to give up before even trying. Wednesday the 6th was, according do the weatherman, the last day of decent walking conditions, with the best chance for sunny spells on the western coast. The location of Beinn Sgritheall made it a perfect target :D
The drive to Arnisdale took a couple of hours but I didn't mind it considering the splendid vistas on the way :D
It is worth mentioning, for all visitors to Glenelg peninsula, that the nearby brochs are definitely worth a detour - these are one of the best preserved brochs in Scotland. We had visited them in 2010:
isle of skye 592.JPG
One of the Glenelg brochs, Dun Telve

They are probably worth a separate TR, another one on a long list old walks which I intend to update at some point... At the moment I'm still behind with current reports :lol: :lol: :lol:
Back to Beinn Sgritheall. The mountain dominates the view in Arnisdale. You may enjoy the vistas across Loch Hourn and to surrounding lower hills (there are two Corbetts here as well to conquer), but your attention will sooner or later be drawn back to this massive, steep, almost brutal line of the Munro...
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It is possible to park in the village but we drove a wee bit further along the coast, to the car park in Corran, next to the local heritage centre. It has the advantage of free toilets :lol: :lol:
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We were the only visitors to the area on that day... No surprise, mid-week March is not the top of the tourist season...
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The day was looking good, some patchy cloud on the eastern side (and it was said to move west in the afternoon). Views across the loch haven't changed in 20 years :lol: :lol:
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In 1994:
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Camas Ban

Our route:

Track_06-MAR-13 BEINN SGRITHEALL.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


We started by walking along the tarmac road to the village, and quickly located the signposted path "to Beinn Sgritheall". The path is obvious to start with, though a bit boggy here and there, but generally offers good going. Good doesn't mean easy though, as the angle of ascent is relentless from the very beginning. This is not a mountain to run up in 30 minutes...
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We were welcome by special committee. Hello, my deer! :lol: :lol:
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Height is gained quickly on the steep slope and in next to no time we had good views down to Arnisdale and across the loch:
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Ready to tame another beast! The path can be seen to the right of me, following the gorge:
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It could have been a cold day but soon I was sweating. The path is very steep indeed. I'm not a mountain novice and have gained good fitness levels after all my walking adventures, I jog or cycle almost every day plus I had a good breakfast in the morning - yet after half an hour I was running on empty... this mountain really sucks energy out of you...
Now I know how Kevin feels after eating any dairy...
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The views are worth the pain though...
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I took a short break to take my bodywarmer off (no need to warm my body :lol: :lol: :lol: ) and record a few snapshots, Kevin joined me in a minute, checking his GPS.
I asked: How high are we?
He answered: 150m...
I was shocked: What??? It feels like at least 500!
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We kept pushing until we reached the dip where the path crosses Allt a'Mhuilinn:
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A small waterfall:
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Looking back to Loch Hourn:
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There's not much story to tell about this route, really. It's STEEP, PAINFUL, makes you SWEAT and SWEAR, but it's so worth the effort that I didn't mind the pain at all...
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Beinn na h-Eaiglaise (one of the two Arnisdale Corbetts) from the higher slopes of Beinn Sgritheall:
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All the way to the lower top is just as steep and just as tiring:
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First glimpse of views to the north...
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Beinn na h-Eaiglaise again. The sky, so blue earlier on, was now clouding up slowly, yet it was the familliar high cloud so we were in no danger of losing the views completely.
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The final 100-150m of ascent is the slowest. After the long trudge up to this point, now we faced a scramble-ish battle with steep scree and small boulders - not that I'm complaining... :wink: :wink:
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Standing in the middle of the scree slope, I looked down and decided, it definitely wasn't a mountain for vertigo sufferers... Thank heavens I'm well past this problem:
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Eventually, after the experience that could be named "2 hours of muscle torture", we landed on the lower top (906m) and hoooray! The summit was now only a stroll away!
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We hoped to take a short refreshment break on the lower top but as soon as we arrived we were suddenly hit by the strong, cold wind. Immediately, we were shaking!
In this picture, Loch Hourn still bathing in sunshine to the left, to the right me struggling to put on my warm jacket. The gusts were so severe I had to step on the corner of my rucksack to stop it from flying away!
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Kevin managed to get dressed up first and spent a few minutes taking photos. South-east to Arnisdale and Loch Hourn:
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Back in July 1994, Kev had slightly better weather and the air wasn't as hazy:
1994c_0003.jpg
Loch Hourn and Arnisdale

1994c_0002.jpg
Looking east from the lower top

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View west to the sea, with Eigg on the horizon

1994c_0006.jpg
The N shoulder of the Munro

Back to the reality of march 2013... Ladhar Bheinn hiding in the cloud:
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Wrapped up for the sudden change:
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The twilight zone is back!!! Hazy, hazy...
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Coire Min and Loch a'Choire Mhin:
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The northern shoulder of Beinn Sgritheall:
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The vertical rocks of the north face. This view, unavailable from Arnisdale side, is only revealed to those who defeat the steep slopes and climb up to the summit ridge:
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There was very little snow on the ridge and we didn't need crampons:
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Even with the cloud coming and the distant views hazy it was still a mind-boggling place to be!
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Stunned, shocked, fascinated, beaten up by the wind gusts, tortured by steep slopes, I was still ready to meow!!!
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A special moment...
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The final climb was nothing compare to the earlier steep experience and we quickly walked up to the summit cairn. What a viewpoint! Such a shame that the wind was so unpleasant, we didn't really fancy a longer break here in such conditions, but stayed long enough to record the vistas :D Enjoy.
North east to Glen Shiel:
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Along the northern shoulder:
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Across Sleat to Skye:
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Down to Loch Hourn...
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Across the loch to Mr Ladhar...
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Skye Cuillin should be well visible on the horizon bang in the middle of this panorama, but the haze obstructed the view...
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Meowing on my 94th Munro :wink:
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It was too cold and unpleasant to take a break on the summit so I studied the rocks below in search for a sheltered spot...
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Ergh........Umph...........Is that the way down??? Looks worse than the way up!!!
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OK, not as bad as I thought!
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We descended about 100m on the rocky, narrow path, before we found a good place off the wind to sit down, have a cuppa and a sandwich, enjoy the moment...
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...then it was time to descend back to the grey reality.
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The path again, is obvious all the way down the steepest part of the descent. Looking back up, this side would be just as painful to climb as the other way:
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The descent route leads along the western shoulder of the mountain, down to a small lochan (Lochan Bhealach Rarsaidh):
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Mr Sgritheall looking very dangerous:
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Views are still good even from this level:
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Lochan Bhealach Rarsaidh can bee now seen in the middle of the photo:
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The lochan and Beinn Mhialairigh behind:
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Having reached the lochan we turned left to finish the descent:
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The return route is a bit rough, testing for the knees and annoying as well, as it goes through dense woodland. In a few places we had to negotiate our way through the overgrown tree branches and don't forget it's still early spring. In summertime, this would be a jungle!
Back to Beinn Sgritheall from the lower slopes:
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Loch Hourn:
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The final 100m of descent was boggy and squelchy but after all the pain of the day who would complain about a few muddy puddles? :lol: :lol:
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We both uttered a sigh of relief when we reached the tarmac road. All that was left now was a piece of cake, about 4km flat walk back to the car park. We knew it was the last day of good weather that week so we didn't rush it and savoured the moments of quiet solitude (the road was deserted all the time we walked on it). Scottish Staycation definitely is our way to spend holidays! Meow!

Summing up, Beinn Sgritheall can be fun. The views are fantastic and well worth the sweat and tears. I wouldn't recommend this route to beginners though, especially those a bit less fit and suffering from vertigo. Especially the scree slope on the final metres to the lower top is intimidating - two steps up, one down, a lot of tumbling scree. I guess this 'un is to be kept for a dry day and for good weather, too, it would be terrible to suffer through these steep slopes and see nothing at all...
The rest of the week was rubbish weather-wise. We managed one low level walk and visited Inverewe gardens. But last Saturday (the 16th) we took a day trip to our favourite island and had a superb day on another pain-inflicting, knee-killing steep mountain. Which one? Will be revealed soon. :D :D
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby SAVAGEALICE » Mon Mar 18, 2013 3:59 pm

Another great report BP :clap: ..looking forward to this one :) :D ..thanks for sharing your experience ..lots of useful advice here :)
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby Mountainlove » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:01 pm

Great report and I have to say I really like the look of the mountain- being next to the road and a loch makes me think of Slioch (equally painful when you climb it straight on) :lol: Thank you for the information about the brochs...I have yet to see one and thats a good idea to visit the one on the way :D
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby The Rodmiester » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:40 pm

Not a lot of snow left there!, a hill for a clear day I think, some wonderful views from the top. It's a hard push right enough, straight from the off. That's a new centre I think, I'm sure that wasn't there when we did it, ok it has been a while right enough, handy carpark though! Thanks for posting, I enjoyed doing that hill in July 2001, it was warm, sunny and a bit hazy, lost a few calories that day :lol:
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby ballarat » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:01 pm

great report,i feel as though i have been up to the top from the comfort of my chair :)
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby hills » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:23 pm

Thank goodness we dont have to do them all from sea level eh, looks a bit of a mega grunt, grand photos though, well done to you.
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby quoman » Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:43 pm

Fantastic as ever BP stunning views and a good description of the walk.. my mate was gust talking about this one today so it might be getting done shortly.
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby coachmacca » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:45 pm

Brilliant report and pics! Looks like a fantastic route! On the list!
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby pigeon » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:59 pm

Aw naw,got this one in my plans for a trip at the end of May,no sure i'm looking forward to it now :lol: Looks a real head down and get on with it hill,stunning rewards at the top though by the looks of your pics,great report BP :clap:
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby PeteR » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:05 pm

Another top report BP :D

This has to be one of my favourite hills, despite the steep climb up and the trees you have to find your way through at the end. As you said, that section through the trees must be dreadful in the summer :shock: The views from this hill though make it an absolute joy :D
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby PeteR » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:08 pm

pigeon wrote:Aw naw,got this one in my plans for a trip at the end of May,no sure i'm looking forward to it now :lol: Looks a real head down and get on with it hill,stunning rewards at the top though by the looks of your pics,great report BP :clap:


Go for it pigeon :thumbup: If you get the views then the slog up the side will be instantly forgotten :D
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby ChrisW » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:42 am

wow that's a tough drag by the look of it BP, glad you made the effort though, wonderful views (both now and 20 years ago)...but then I guess in 'mountain time' 20 years isn't even a half second :shock: lovely shots of the tough ascent too :clap:
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby BlackPanther » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:29 pm

Many thanks for all your kind comments, folks :lol: :lol:
pigeon wrote:Aw naw,got this one in my plans for a trip at the end of May,no sure i'm looking forward to it now :lol:

Now I feel guilty... I didn't mean to scare anybody off Beinn Sgritheall! Quite the opposite :lol:
I guess it's just a matter of determination. It may be steep, but the prize for the sweat is more than satisfying and even though we had some cloud and haze to cope with, still it was worth it.
The Rodmiester wrote:That's a new centre I think, I'm sure that wasn't there when we did it, ok it has been a while right enough, handy carpark though!

The heritage centre looks brand new, certainly it wasn't there in 1994 when Kevin did BS for the first time :lol: :lol: :lol: Nice, clean toilets and a handy free car park, I agree :D There are still Corbetts to do from Arnisdale so the centre will surely prove useful.
Mountainlove wrote:Thank you for the information about the brochs...I have yet to see one and thats a good idea to visit the one on the way :D

A few more photies of Glenelg brochs... Especially for you :wink:
isle of skye 600.JPG
Dun Telve - inside

isle of skye 622.JPG
Dun Troddan

isle of skye 608.JPG
Dun Telve - the staircase within the walls
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby foggieclimber » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:39 pm

Image

The above photo shows well the steepness of Beinn na h-Eaglaise. I did the two Corbetts and then descended the "ridge" in the above photo to get to the col before ascending Sgritheall. I think I wrote in my log something about needing new knees afterwards. Sgritheall is very steep but Beinn na h-Eaglaise is even steeper from this side.

Nice to see Sgritheall again.
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Re: The steepest Munro ever

Postby IainG » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:27 pm

Great report! When doing my round of the Munros, this hill was only one of two that I got a severe attack of vertigo, the other being an obscure hill in the Cairngorms :? :D

I remember that when the saddle of the hill was reached, t was like looking down on the roofs of Arnisdale from an aeroplane! It was severely steep!
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