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Takes your breath away - but it's not Berlin

Takes your breath away - but it's not Berlin


Postby BlackPanther » Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:04 pm

Route description: Sgurr a' Mhaoraich, Loch Quoich

Munros included on this walk: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

Date walked: 01/04/2013

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 11.5 km

Ascent: 939m

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The final chapter of our Easter adventures takes us to the edge of Knoydart. Before undertaking any big climbs in the area, like Ladhar Bheinn for example, we wanted to visit Loch Quoich Munros - at least they are easily accessible from the road :D
In February we climbed Sgurr nan Eugalt, a Corbett across the loch from the 3 Munros and we had a fantastic day with views to the heart of Knoydart, Skye, South Shiel mountains, we even saw The Ben on the horizon. On a good day, views from any hill in this area will take your breath away.
After three days of extensive climbing, one of my knees was sending my a clear message - take it steady or I'll go on strike. I guess, after I had damaged it two years ago, it has never fully recovered :( Luckily, it's not a serious problem any more, but I didn't want to overdo it. I'm going to visit my parents next month (they live abroad) and if I arrived on their doorstep limping... Kevin would be accused of not taking proper care of me :lol: :lol: :lol:
I decided that a single mountain to finish the BLISS Easter would be fair enough. Sgurr a'Mhaoraich seemed a good choice - a bit less ascent altogether than the neighbouring Quoich Twins, and the whole circuit is less than 12km - didn't sound too scary. Kevin has done this hill before, but didn't remember much about it, a jaunt up and down with some nice views and a short but lovely ridgewalk. OK, I was ready for it!
There's just about enough off-road space to park next to the start of the stalker's path up the mountain. One more car with walkers arrived maybe 5 minutes after us :D
The day looked fabulous, so fresh and blue, ahhhh.... It would be a crime not to smile!!!
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My breath was taken away already at the very beginning, just from looking around, to the mountains across Loch Quoich:
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Gairich:
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Our route - quite steep for the first 600m of ascent, but on a very good stalker's path:

Track_SGURR A MHAORAICH 1-4-13.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


We started on the path, which zigzagged up Bac na Canaichean and with every step we felt better and better... Wow, it looked like we were going to finish the long weekend on a high!
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Views to Gairich and Loch Quoich, with the good path in the centre:
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Gleouraich looked very bulky from this angle...
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As long as we were sheltered by the hillside, it was relatively quiet and the views behind us - second to none!
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We stopped for 5 minutes when the angle of the ascent eased off, just to put on windproof jacket. The wind wasn't kidding any more, but apart from that, it was pure mountain pleasure :wink:
Glen Quoich and the South Shiel ridge behind:
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A perfect panorama of Knoydart peaks:
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Nevis! Nevis! I can see you!!!
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A few clouds far away to the east, hopefully they stay where they are!
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The first target - Sgurr Coire nan Eirichellach, the lower top. We hoped we wouldn't need crampons to climb this...
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Just below the lower top we encountered a steeper section covered with hard snow, where crampons and/or ice axes would be useful, but we found deep footprints from previous days and simply used them as stairs. Cheaters? Nope, I'm a panther, not a cheetah :lol: :lol:
The steep section, with a fellow walker negotiating the snowy steps. We climbed further to the left:
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Loch Quoich in the sunshine:
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Ahhh, so many hills up here, and most of them hardly accessible :lol: :lol: :lol: but how beautiful...
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We reached the top of Sgurr Coire nan Eirichellach, where another short break for photo-session was taken. I re-applied my sunscreen and adjusted my sunglasses - I know it must look a bit stupid in such temperatures, but my UV allergy can be nasty:
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Views from the lower top are extensive:
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...but my attention was dawn to the ridge that lay before us. I love ridgewalking, and I don't mind a bit of scramble here and there - just adds to the pleasure :lol: :lol:
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Back to Gleouraich:
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So this is what we have to walk along. Didn't seem a big problem. the worst that would happen - another break to put crampons on :lol:
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In summer conditions this would be a stroll, as proven by Kevin's pictures from his previous visit:
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Would be easier without all that snow... Kevin's photo from 1993

To start with, even with all the snow on the ridge, this is an easy walk:
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... but as we approached the final climb, I noticed that the path crossed a few big boulders, where hands would be needed:
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There was no way I could turn back now! My pride wouldn't let me...
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With such views around, who would need more encouragement? I was thinking - there will be more to see on the summit!
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Even the nearest features were impressive:
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Close-up to the tricky bit:
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Of course, there was a lazier options, traversing below the scramble-ish section on the large patch of snow - in the picture you can see footprints left by previous visitors to the mountain. But I felt like I wanted a bit of a challenge - it has all been too easy so far!
I glanced behind me and was stunned again, by the great view down to the ridge we just traversed:
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Two other walkers, just in front of us, headed straight for the scramble so we followed them. I admit, we didn't have our ice axes on that day, but in the end we didn't need them. The rocks were covered in soft snow rather than ice and we quickly scrambled up past the obstacles.
Looking down the tricky bit:
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One from Kevin's album, taken slightly closer to the summit - for comparison:
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The ridge from near the summit of Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - summer 1993

Ready to meow, the summit just behind me:
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Hmmmm :eh: This looks like crampon country!
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It was a good decision to finally use the spikes - the final ascent was steep and the snow was very hard. But I was just having fun, even my knee felt OK at this point:
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Views, views... Things peeking out from around the corner... :lol: :lol: Takes your breath away...
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The scramble-ish section from above:
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Near the summit, looking east:
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Loch Quoich pano:
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Glen Loyne:
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South Glen Shiel in full glory:
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Gairich and the Nevis range behind:
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Another photo session:
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We reached the summit cairn with big smiles and I could tick another Munro off! Now it's only 3 to 100 - and Kevin, who was repeating this one, still has 3 to go to his 141 (halfway point). There will be a double celebration on a M top very soon! At that moment, it was a celebration for my No. 97:
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The summit was a wee bit windy but it didn't stop me from exploring:
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...and there was stuff to admire, for sure! Ladhar Bheinn revealed at last:
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Skye Cuillin and Beinn Sgritheall:
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Sgurr Mor and Sgurr na Ciche:
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Gairich and Nevis again:
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Zoomed out Knoydart hills, behind Sgurr nan Eugallt ridge:
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The ridge continues west to Sgurr a'Mhaoraich Beag, which can be added to the traverse if looking for a longer day:
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Time for teabreak! Kevin found a good, flat rock to sit on:
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We had a quick snack & drink on the summit, but as the wind was getting stronger and it was cold, we packed our stuff and headed down the mountain - due south along the shoulder to Leac nan Gaidhseich. Spikes were helpful on the first 200m of descent, it was much easier to march down the snowpatches.
Looking back at the bulk of Sgurr a'Mhaoraich:
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Along the shoulder, Leac nan Gaidhseich:
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Skye Cuillin still in sight...
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Views down to Loch Quoich:
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Further down, the snow disappeared:
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The descent route was steep in places and the area scattered with big boulders, but they could all be easily avoided:
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What a day! I don't want this BLISS to end! It still takes my breath away...
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Roooar! Beware Knoydart!!!!!!!!!! I'll be back!!!!!!!!!
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East to Gleouraich - Spidean Mialach ridge:
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I kept asking for stops on the way down, not because I was tired, but because I was so desperate to stay here if only for a few minutes longer...
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We crossed a small gorge and turned east to descend along one of the countless streams down to Coire nan Eiricheallach, soon we joined a good track, which took us all the way down to the road.
Sgurr a'Mhaoraich from the road:
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The final stage - a short walk back along the tarmac to the layby where we left our car. We amused ourselves by observing wildlife:
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Anyone for venison steak tonight? :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Just before we left Knoydart, Kevin scrutinized Gairich, the Munro across the loch, and said:
"This one looks good. Keep it in mind for out next visit to this area!"
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He began whistling "Take my breath away" and with this melody bouncing off my ears we drove away... Till next time, Knoydart! Meow! :D :D

It was a great shame to finally end the BLISS weekend, but nothing lasts forever and we had such a superb time on the hills, that I couldn't ask for more!
I'd like to thank everyone, who took their time to read my stories - I sincerely hope you enjoyed them :D Cheers!
Last edited by BlackPanther on Thu May 01, 2014 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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BlackPanther
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Re: Takes your breath away - but it's not Berlin

Postby PeteR » Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:48 pm

Well, you beat me to it BP, as I was on this beauty on Good Friday, but due to being away for the week immediately after had not had the chance to post my report yet. Did the same route as you did here. You may well recognise the views when I do get round to posting :D :lol: Although I'm thinking even in the few days between our two visits the snow had thawed a little.

It's certainly a super hill, and as you discovered the views are stunning on a day like you had :D Perfect hill walking days :D I must admit I didn't attack the scrambly bits with the grace of a Panther.........more like that of a Hippo as I heaved myself up the final step or two :lol:
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Re: Takes your breath away - but it's not Berlin

Postby SAVAGEALICE » Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:26 pm

stunning :D :clap:
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Re: Takes your breath away - but it's not Berlin

Postby Gavin99 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:28 am

Lovely stuff , superb photos 8) I hope to do this walk soon but I doubt I'll get as perfect a day as you had .
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Re: Takes your breath away - but it's not Berlin

Postby Lenore » Thu Apr 11, 2013 6:58 pm

Love it BP!!!!!
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Re: Takes your breath away - but it's not Berlin

Postby rockhopper » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:49 pm

Glad you got a good day for it - such a cracking viewpoint ! - cheers :)
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Re: Takes your breath away - but it's not Berlin

Postby BlackPanther » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:43 am

Thanks, everyone :D I probably won't say anything new here, but this is a hill to do on a good day :D
This was my last mountain, haven't been anywhere since and I'm already getting frustrated... Weather not looking that good this weekend :( Certainly not as good as we had for Easter.
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Re: Takes your breath away - but it's not Berlin

Postby dogplodder » Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:03 am

What a stunning day you got for it - don't worry the good hill weather will return! :D
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Re: Takes your breath away - but it's not Berlin

Postby neilh23 » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:34 am

A crowd of us did this last Saturday in perfect, windless sunny weather. Similar to the pics you posted from '93.
The views all around do simply take your breath away. First time in this area but it wont be the last. I think the pics with the snow just add to whole drama of the surrounding area. :clap:
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