Grilled alive on An Teallach
by BlackPanther » Tue May 07, 2013 4:23 pm
Route description: An Teallach, Dundonnell
Munros included on this walk: Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill (An Teallach), Sgurr Fiona (An Teallach)
Date walked: 31/05/2009
Time taken: 9 hours
Distance: 16.9 km
Ascent: 1479m3 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).
Since I moved up to Inverness in 2006, we didn't really experience a true "scorchio" summer, but there were a few weekends of roasting weather. One of such "grilling" experiences happened in the last days of May 2009 and since I have nothing new to write about, just as well I can dwindle on the past. I hope you guys enjoy this little trip back in time with me
On Saturday that weekend we walked up Ben Wyvis, the day was fantastic, though hot. Sitting on the summit, I admired the views towards An Teallach and thought about the day when I'd be able to enjoy this long traverse. Back in 2009, I was only into my second year of hillwalking and my achievement list looked rather modest. Ben Wyvis seemed difficult enough for me
But Kevin decided to use shock therapy. Having heard my quiet sighs, he said:
"If you want a real mountain experience, we'll try An Teallach tomorrow!"
Good God, just as well he could have said "We are going to swim across the English Channel" or "We will run the London Marathon". I was petrified, even thinking about these sharp, exposed rocks, not to mention climbing them!
Luckily, I was in it with an experienced walker. Kevin had visited The Forge a few times, in different parts of the year and in different weather conditions, he scrambled over the Corrag Buidhe pinnacles and also did parts of the ridge in winter. So there couldn't have been anybody better to guide me through the scary traverse.
Having tackled An Teallach ridge from both N and S end, Kevin knew that for a beginner, the north-to-south direction would be easier. This way, one can climb both Munros and retrace one's steps without even getting near the tricky part of the ridge. But my awfully confident husband didn't mention that to me - he wanted to throw me into the deep waters of fear just to convince me that all my reservations including the irrational fear for heights, could be put aside. As a result, we tackled An Teallach from the southern end.
We left Corrie Hallie car park (which was full to bursting - weather was excellent) about 9am and the initial stage of the walk was fine for me - an easy stroll along the track in Gleann Chaorachain. After about 2 km we turned from the track to a narrower path, leading past An Teallach to Shenaval Bothy. We walked past a nice waterfall, though due to the hot weather, there wasn't much water in it:
The Shenaval track - if only the whole walk was so easy...
When approaching The Forge via Gleann Chaorachain, the mountain is hidden from view to start with and only later it reveals itself - like a fascinating spectacle:
We continued on the path (seen in this picture on the right hand side) towards the southern end of An Teallach ridge - Sail Liath. We would start our traverse from this top.
Sail Liath from below. There is no obvious trodden path up the slope (or should I say we just didn't bother to look for it) but the ascent is not technically difficult. Steep and bouldery higher up, but no scrambling at this point.
I actually discovered, hopping from boulder to boulder, that I didn't mind the steepness of the ascent route. That was a good sign!
It wasn't the technical difficulty of the route that bothered me, as we pushed up the first top, but the killing heat! There was no wind (we were sheltered by the slope) and the sun was grilling us alive! We took countless breaks to re-apply sunscreen and drink water. I knew that there was nowhere to refill the bottles higher up, so in the roasting heat, we had to remember not to drink all our water in one go. Easier said than done, when all you drank comes back out through your skin in 10 minutes!
During one of such breaks Kevin grabbed the video cam and started filming something above us...
...it turned out to be a small herd of feral goats. How the hell did they manage to move about in their long furs in such heat????
Putting the scorchio aside, I was already impressed by the views, and we haven't seen the best of it just yet. At the moment, we enjoyed the great panorama of Fisherfield wilderness behind us - here are a few shots.
Beinn a'Chlaidheimh and the Fisherfield Munros behind:
Beinn Dearg Mhor:
Steep and rocky, but with such vistas around it would be a sin not to enjoy the climb!
At roughly 700m the ascent angle eases off a bit and the final push is less steep - here we could relax, at least for a time being, and move closer to the edge of the cliffs - I was curious to see Loch Toll an Lochain!
The summit of Sail Liath, with another group of walkers seen just below the top:
Hello, Loch Toll an Lochain, where are you?...
The impressive cliffs:
We followed the edge of the cliffs all the way to the summit...
...only to feel absolutely gob smacked by the view that was revealed when we reached the top. Well, nothing new to Kevin, but I was in the state of shock! That was true mountain madness, that was what I dreamed about!
The true beauty of The Forge:
We took a snack break on Sail Liath, enjoying the magic of the surrounding landscape:
Beinn Dearg Mhor again. It may only be a Corbett but it looks tasty for a hungry hillwalker... 5 years on, I still haven't climbed it but I will one day
Some good ridgewalking nearby!
Toll an Lochain didn't disappoint me...
Zoom to Sgurr Fiona and the pinnacles:
I couldn't resist posing with THAT view in the background!
Behind me, the continuation of the traverse - Stob Cadha Gobhlach:
One more glimpse at the steep cliffs, before moving on to the next stage...
We met monsters on the way...
...and though the terrain is steep and paths very eroded, we had no problem finding our way.
Yaaaah! Looking down to the corrie below made my stomach turn...
...and looking up confirmed my earlier worries, that there is no easy way to climb the Forge!
Big drops and tumbling rocks are everywhere...
...with extensive views beyond...
...and some interesting features en route!
I didn't feel like tackling the full traverse of the pinnacles so Kevin forgave me for chickening and taking the lower traverse. the bypass path can be seen in the picture above.
Kevin filming the view back to Sail Liath and Stob Cadha Gobhlach:
Looking back to the pictures from that day, I'm sure that if I tackled this traverse now, I would scramble up there - I'm so much more confident. A good excuse to re-do An Teallach
Not sure what's easier - Corrag Buidhe pinnacles or Am Fasarinen from Liathach, but I'm a bit disappointed I never managed to conquer either of them... I almost went all the way up the Liathach pinnacles, but Kevin chased me down If I return to The Forge, it will be with some more scrambling!
Looking up... up...
The bypass path may seem the easier option but it is very exposed - there's actually a whole "net" of bypasses and the one we picked was badly eroded. In places we had to hop from rock to rock over big drops below us. Really, an experience for those with good head for heights. I was growing in confidence with every step I took on this airy path!
As an example, a few options one can take on one of the corners:
Luckily, some of the scariest stuff can be avoided!
Sail Mhor and the sea beyond:
The heat was still overwhelming and maybe the temperature was to blame, that we simply walked/hopped/scrambled on the bypass all the way to the bealach below Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill. Only when we stopped there to hydrate our brains...
...we realised that we missed Sgurr Fiona!!! It wasn't such a problem for Kevin as he had ticked it off before, but I was angry with myself and immediately ordered a return jaunt up the steep slope of the Munro!
Sgurr Fiona and the pinnacles from the north:
The sun was still merciless when we crawled up to the top of the Munro... We were saving the last of water for later, so we didn't take a long break here - just long enough to enjoy the view. I won't lie if I say that Sgurr Fiona is the best viewpoint on An Teallach ridge. The summit area is small and pretty airy so some photos look like taken from a plane
Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill and Glas Mheall Liath ridge:
Towards the Fisherfields, with Beinn Liath Mhor and Loch na Sealga in front:
Toll an Lochain:
The southern tops:
Having enjoyed the mind-boggling panoramas from Sgurr Fiona, we walked down to the bealach again and this time we continued, without any breaks, all the way to Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill. The summit of the second Munro is topped with a trigpoint:
We were still under impression of the big drops of the previous tops so this one seemed a bit flat-topped, though views were still excellent. Especially when looking back to the rockiest part of An Teallach, I felt a rush of satisfaction, even though I omitted the most difficult fragment of the traverse...
Oooops. Looks tricky. But next time I'll give it a go!
Distant views a wee bit hazy, but I could still make out the distinctive shape of Suilven:
It was getting late and the last of our water was gone, so we hurried up from the second Munro, to return to the car park before the day died out. We descended to the next col on the ridge, about 850m high. From here we could either continue along the ridge to Sron a Choire or drop down the steep slope to Glas Tholl. We chose the latter option, but before descending into the world of shadows, we had one last look at the sharp edges and unfriendly rocks. Then we promised solemnly, we'd re-visit someday
Looking back to Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill:
The descent into the corrie was very steep at first and the path here is very eroded. Once past the initial, tumbling stage, it was all plain sailing. The rocky outcrops of Glas Mheall Liath reminded me of giant organ in medieval church
The last pose with the mighty mountain:
On the way back we simply followed a small burn, Allt a'Ghlas Thuill. The path wasn't very prominent but on a dry day walking was easy enough. Shortly before returning to the road, we joined a better path along the river. We passed by a small waterfall and I felt like having a dive into it (free cold shower ) but it was too late to stop for such silly ideas anyway so we continued to Corrie Hallie.
Having found our way through the jungle of rhododendrons, we returned to the car park some 9 hours after starting the journey. I was totally exhausted but so happy at the same time! Meow!
What a day it was. One of those magic moments I will always treasure in my memories. By conquering An Teallach I proved myself capable of facing the big drops, airy traverses and tumbling slopes. And it probably won't surprise you, that only a month later I was meowing like a mad cat on the Cuillin ridge!
by tall-story » Tue May 07, 2013 11:59 pm
- A welcome Spring at Glas Thull
- Stunning !
by Fcfraser » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:27 am
by litljortindan » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:26 pm
tall-story wrote:A smashin wee story there BP it reminded me very much of my trip up there last year, May 25th with almost identicle weather to what you had The biggest problem I had was the lack of water, so the springs coming off at Glas Tholl was a welcome cool drink. Colin
Oh, I was there on the 24th and also grilled, boiled, baked etc:
Sympathies to you BP for the enforced break. I have been put off walking this month too but in my case by unusually bad hay fever.
by clivegrif » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:07 pm
The first time I climbed it the sun was beating down, and I came back with as red as a boiled lobster with a big stupid grin! (like that)
by ChrisW » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:19 pm
by BlackPanther » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:53 pm
Shocking as it sounds, the feral goats looked like they didn't mind the heat at all