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May the FORCAN be with you!

May the FORCAN be with you!


Postby BlackPanther » Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:51 pm

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

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

Date walked: 08/06/2013

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 13.5 km

Ascent: 1350m

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A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away, a certain cat wanted to scramble over a certain mountain ridge. The ridge was said to be very exposed and the cat was a bit scared, not fully trusting the power of her paws and claws. But eventually she gathered her courage, looked up at the imposing rocky crest and thought - the FORCAN will be with me this time!

I must say, I had doubts about tackling the Forcan Ridge, and mainly because of Kevin. He had climbed the Saddle and Sgurr na Sgine in the past, but used "the cheaters way" and never tried the ridge itself. As I'm a Panther, not a cheetah, that route was absolutely out of question - for me it was all or nothing, so Forcan or no Saddle!
Recent reports on WH proved that this traverse can be fun and we decided to go for it, especially that weather forecast for the weekend was very good, dry and sunny. We drove to Glen Shiel, hoping for the best but ready for the worst :shock:
Our route:

Track_FORCAN RIDGE 8-6-13.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


The morning mist was lifting slowly from the hills when we drove into the deep cut of Glen Shiel. We parked on the layby nearest to the start of the path - just about managed to find space. The day was gorgeous and hoards of walkers headed for the hills!
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An excellent stalkers path leads up to the col between Biod an Fhithich and Meallan Odhar:
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Views are superb as soon as one gains some height:
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We were full of energy and despite the temperature rising to slightly unpleasant level, we kept pushing:
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Lots and lots of +50 factor, hat, sunglasses and long-sleeved top - may seem an exaggeration but for albino-skinned lass like me, better safe than sorry.
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Very quickly, we reached the col. Here, the path turns left and skirts the summit of Meallan Odhar:
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...but our attention was immediately drawn towards the spectacular view to the south. Our target. Forcan Ridge, though seen from an awkward angle, still looked imposing... and scary!
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A glimpse west, Loch Duich could now be seen behind Gleann Undalain:
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As we continued across the slopes of Meallan Odhar and higher up towards Forcan Ridge, even better views opened up, we could now count the sisters :D
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Arghhh.....Uhmmm....Yyyy.... :shock: :shock: :shock: Is that our route to the summit?
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We reached the point where the path divides and the "cheaters way" continues to the left, along an old drystone dyke. Another group of walkers passed us, heading to the bypass, but we were now so full of adrenaline and determination, that we didn't even consider the easier option. Even though the big rocks above us looked a bit daunting...
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We took a short hydration break, I packed my camera in the rucksack so it didn't dangle in front of me when I scrambled. Kevin though, refused to put his camera away - he wanted to record the traverse! :lol: :lol: :lol: The air was still hot, but a single, large cloud came in, offering us some nicely cooling shadow and turning the rock on the ridge very dark and gloomy :shock:
Now, all that was left, say your prayers and let's go! may the Forcan be with you!
I discovered that the initial stage was more than easy for cat's paws...
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...and the rocks were dry, easy to grab, offering good foot-and handholds wherever it was necessary to use four digits:
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During short moments to catch our breaths, we enjoyed the northern panorama:
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So far, so good. And where is that exposure everybody is always talking about???
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Meow! I was in my element and I found out I absolutely loved it! My paws easily moved up the rocks...
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...and as soon as we reached the minor top, we could now see Sgurr na Forcan and the ridge leading to this point. OK, this looked a wee bit more difficult, but come on! I uttered one f$% word, but a few seconds later, having had a good look at the route, I was smiling again!
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It may seem bad, but this stage hardly qualifies as scrambling :wink:
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From another angle, it becomes obvious, why. There's enough grass on this ridge to make the traverse easy:
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We were still in the shadow of the single cloud, whereas the surrounding landscape bathed in sunshine:
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North Glen Shiel ridge:
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Right, it was time to move my pretty backside and climb on!
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The Forcan Panther:
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Not really a knife-edge experience just yet...
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...until we landed on the top of Sgurr na Forcan. Till now it had been plain sailing. Here, we encounter the hardest and the most exposed part of the Forcan Ridge, including the awkward descent, which I named "the bad step":
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Looking along the ridge from the top of the bad step:
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The bypass path which can be used to avoid the difficult bit, but we didn't even think about it, just wanted to do it the hard way...
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Another pair of walkers were just behind us and they looked confident - to be honest I didn't want to shame myself by trying the hard bit and then turning back - what a humiliation it would have been for a proud cat!!!
But just in case, I let Kevin scramble down first!
It took him a while to work out his way down the bad step - it is basically a vertical descent, about 10m down the rocks, but in dry conditions there are enough footholds to make this possible even for non-climbers. We didn't have a rope so someone would say we were a bit silly taking the risk, but where would be the fun in it then? :lol: :lol:
Kevin went down and then he guided me by showing me where I should put my feet. I scrambled halfway down and came across an awkward movement, where I simply couldn't reach the step Kevin had used - he is taller than me and has longer legs, so obviously he could stretch himself thus far. I could not.
Of course, going back was OUT OF QUESTION, so I examined the rock around me and noticed a tiny grassy step to the left of me as I was facing the rock. To reach it, I had to swing my body around a large boulder sticking out of the wall and so I went for it, relying only on the strength of my arms, you crazy woman, I thought, what the hell are you doing!!! But I landed safely on the tuft of grass. A few seconds later I was standing next to Kevin - he just gapped. Well done, girl - he said eventually - did you feel the vertigo?
He keeps referring to my fear for heights from the first years of our climbing together, sometimes just to remind me how far I have progressed. But this time he wasn't joking. Myself, I was surprised that I didn't feel any fear whatsoever. The only emotion that went through me as I hung halfway down the vertical wall, was that of frustration and anger that I could not reach the step Kevin reached!
I bet that experienced scramblers are now laughing their stomachs out, reading this description. Actually, seen from below, the bad step doesn't seem too hard at all:
forcan ridge 107.jpg

From now on, the rest of the ridge was much easier and we headed for the summit with big smiles on our faces. Wow, what a day!
Forcan Ridge seen from near the summit of the Saddle, wit the bad step just below the top of Sgurr na Forcan:
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Soon I was sitting on the summit of my Munro no. 101, gazing towards the south top and the trig point:
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The summit of The Saddle is tiny with little space to sit down and take a break, so after a few minutes we moved on to the south top... Here, we had a long lunch break, enjoying the views and resting after the scrambling adventure!
Looking at the summit from the S top:
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Close-up with a walker on the N top:
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Sgurr na Sgine from The Saddle:
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Beinn Sgritheall:
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The Cuillin of Skye:
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Ladhar Bheinn:
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Looking NW towards Sgurr na Creige:
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Pink Panther by the trig point :wink:
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We had Sgurr na Sgine planned as well, so though The Saddle felt like a perfect place to sit and rest, we couldn't stay there forever. Reluctantly, we got up to continue to the second Munro, and only as we descended to the col, using the cheater's path, we could now see what we managed to conquer:
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Scramblers on Forcan Ridge:
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Forcan Ridge from below, with blue sky now above and more sunshine in the background!
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It didn't take us long to reach the col and now all we had to do was the last ascent of the day, to the summit of Sgurr na Sgine. But first, another stop to record the landscape...
View south from the col:
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Forcan Ridge reflected in Lochan Bealach Coire Mhalagain:
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The climb from the col to Sgurr na Sgine can be divided into two stages, the first one being quite step and bouldery, but there is a path all the way up. We had to slow down though, mainly to save energy and water - the day was hot and we only had one bottle left...
One more effort - and we emerged on the ridge, half way between the Munro summit and the adjacent top of Faochag:
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South Glen Shiel Ridge - the last set of Munros for me to climb in this area:
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The last push was now only a matter of time, we climbed up to the rocky summit area...
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...and in next to no time I was posing by the cairn of my Munro no. 102!
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Kevin was only repeating these two Munros, so I'm on the best way to catch up with him!
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Views from the summit - enjoy!
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Back to Beinn Sgritheall and Isle of Skye behind:
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Forcan Ridge in shadows again:
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I was reluctant to leave this fantastic viewpoint... It was hot, yes, but there was also a nice, cooling breeze, and no midges at all (we encountered a few on Forcan Ridge, but they didn't really bother us that much). But it was getting late, so we packed up and headed for Faochag:
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This ridge traverse adds another nice little touch to the route, like the final refrain in a long song :D :D Views still superb:
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Forcan Ridge like a chameleon - sunny again:
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Along Glen Shiel:
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On the top of Faochag, I sat on a rock and enjoyed my last minutes UP THERE...
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The descent from Faochag was the least pleasant part of the day - steep slopes, eroded path, and at some point I stepped into a hole hidden in the grass and twisted my ankle - ouch! For a split second I was on the edge of panic, that I wouldn't be able to walk... Having gotten up I felt I was just about fine, a bit sore but l was able to finish the descent :D
A bit steep, watch your feet on the way down!
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Views and views and views....
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It was a relief when we reached the glen. Not much water in the river, so crossing was easy:
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Finally, a short walk along the road and we were back in the car. Wow! I should rather say - an oven. Temperature inside: +54*C :shock: :shock: :shock:
What a day we had. One of THOSE days, another adventure to remember, and another milestone in my hill career turned. A few more traverses like that and I will be ready for Aonach Eagach :lol: :lol: Honestly, I don't want to diminish the difficulty of Forcan Ridge, but it was much easier than I had expected. I was so happy to discover that the exposure of this one didn't bother me at all, so now it is a matter of confidence and physical strength - and I can certainly work on both :D Definitely, Forcan was with us that Saturday :lol: :lol:

We didn't miss the opportunity on sunny Sunday, either, and we headed for the hills again, this time something much easier but with equally great views :D We sweated out litres of water, got grilled in the sun, bitten by midges, chased by clegs, but despite all this, I couldn't stop meowing! TR to come soon :D
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BlackPanther
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby The Rodmiester » Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:12 pm

Wonderful stuff BP, and as always great photographs, have been looking forward to this report since you hinted you were posting on another TR :D
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby Gavin99 » Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:33 pm

A very nice report BP and well done on downclimbing that section - we took the wee gully to the left but when we looked back up the crag we were sorry we had missed out on it , next time I suppose . If you waltzed over the Forcan Ridge like that I doubt the AE will cause you too many problems 8)
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby pigeon » Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:19 pm

Superb BP,as Gavin says no need to fear the AE now,i expect to see a reoprt on that from you very soon :wink: Or else :lol:
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby rockhopper » Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:43 pm

Excellent report, BP, and such a great day for it - didn't manage to get to the ridge myself last year but am hoping to at some point - cheers :)
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby simon-b » Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:23 pm

Excellent, BP. Very well done on managing that descent pitch on the ridge; at that point I took the same route as Gavin. I agree with you that Sgurr na Sgine is a magnificent viewpoint.The Saddle has to be one of the best mountains in Britain.
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby dooterbang » Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:31 pm

Well done Panther paws, and well done to Kevin too :clap:

That final descent is torture - I remember it well. 2nd time I did this I walked back to the Bealach and down the way I came up.

Cracking day for climbing moontins :D
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby Fife Flyer » Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:43 pm

Great report, well written & very entertaining & some stunning photo's :clap: :clap:

Hopefully the weather will be the same next week for our trip on the south side :wink:
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby spokes2563 » Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:53 pm

did exactly the same walk two weeks ago on an almost identicle day - I took the bypass though to avoid your "bad step".
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby Collaciotach » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:33 pm

Good stuff I enjoyed that :clap:
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby soulminer » Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:11 pm

A fine walk indeed ! Was speaking to the person you pictured on the North Top, about an hour ago he said it was a busy couple of hills :-) He just used these two as a gap filler on a trip to Skye, Torridon, Strathfarrar and Assynt as the weather was quite pleasant :-)
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:41 am

Many thanks, everyone! We had a purrr-fect weekend and hopefully summer 2013 will be a bit better than last year :D
I'm still dreading Aonach Eagach and some Skye Munros :shock: but with confidence growing...maybe...some time soon... We have a week off in August, so weather allowed we'll go camping to Skye.

I'm surprised so many of you took the bypass, I never considered myself as a brave scrambler... But I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something difficult since Kevin chased me off Am Fasarinen pinnacles :lol: :lol:
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby quoman » Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:12 pm

Lovely report and stunning pictures as always BP.the forcan ridge was one of my best days in the hills so far.
P.S we took the by-pass path to :lol: :lol: but to be fair it was covered in frost :lol: well done the two of you.
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby weaselmaster » Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:33 pm

Hi BP - that's a really helpful report for someone thinking about doing the ridge sometime soon. Great illustrations of the key parts too.
Do you think it's something you'd have tackled on your own, if you happened to have a week up in the area without your usual walking partner? That's the main thing that is putting me off trying it when I'm up that way in July - I'm guessing there are likely to be other folk around on the hill anyway, but too much for a solo day?
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Re: May the FORCAN be with you!

Postby doogz » Thu Jun 13, 2013 4:37 pm

Really strange to read a report and lo and behold youre a part of it :crazy:

I was the one on the Summit you photographed just before i lay down for my hi level lunch ...thank goodness you guys left or there would have been no room for us all :wink: :wink:

Im sure youll manage the AE fine as its less daunting than youd expect once your on it ...i done it for about my 80 odd munro and found it really easy and much more fun than people had led me to believe

Nice report..(better since im in it :wink: :lol: )

heres a shot youd have missed whilst ascending the forcan ridge

Image

kindest regards and good luck on your next 100 munros

from here i went to Skye ,Torridon ,Strathfarrar and assynt ...what a time i had on my trip

Unfortunately i had a slight mishap on my way home where my tyre blew out at 70 mph on the A9

Image

Image

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