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What to do in a heatwave? The South Shiel Ridge of course!

What to do in a heatwave? The South Shiel Ridge of course!


Postby davedanson28 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:30 pm

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Air Chrith, Creag a'Mhaim, Creag nan Damh, Druim Shionnach, Maol chinn-dearg, Sgurr an Doire Leathain, Sgurr an Lochain

Date walked: 21/07/2013

Time taken: 24 hours

Distance: 32.5 km

Ascent: 1818m

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What else would you do during probably the hottest weekend of the year, of course you head for the hills and I decided on the famous South Shiel ridge. No Wee Guy on this outing, he had better things to do such as going to the beach and playing with his pals, still it means I have a great excuse to come back to these fabulous hills in the future with him.
I left the house at lunch time and headed for Glen Shiel, my plan was to set off walking late afternoon as the temperature would be cooler. The journey up was a hot one, 3 hours in a car when it was touching 30 degrees for most of it, even with the air con on it felt kind of hot! I planned on a high level wild camp that night which would then give me an advantage the following day as I could start early and avoid some of the hottest weather again.
I set off from the car at 4.30pm and it was still 28 degrees and headed up the old road past Cluanie Lodge, it was still hot, no make that very hot. The plan was to follow the WH route description from east to west. I had a heavy pack, maybe 15Kg or so and was carrying empty extra water bottles for me and Marley which I planned to fill up from streams as I got higher before I hit the ridge based on the forecast for Sunday.
The road was easy walking and height was gained relatively quickly, I opted to stay on the tarmac all the way to the stalkers path rather than taking a more direct route towards the first Munro. It was quite a good way of acclimatising to the heat I suppose; I made a point of stopping regularly so that both I and Marley did not get too hot. I made Marley get into every pool of water we passed and kept his fur as wet as possible.
The views where amazing in every direction, the air was so clear, you could see as far as the eye could see. As I turned off the tarmac and onto the stalkers path I noticed a tent pitched by the burn, the midges and clegs where wicked, so good look to the occupants. I pressed on for the first summit and now gained height very quickly; it probably took me approx. 45 mins to reach Creag a Mhaim due to the heavy pack and also the heat.
I hit the summit of Munro number 1, Creag a Mhaim at 7.45pm.
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The views where special, I took so many photo’s. I could now see the whole ridge in front of me, the second Munro Druim Shionnach did not look that far away so I decided to go for it there and then and then set up camp.
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I decided to take a picture of my pack on every summit, sorry Rock hopper I saw you had done this in a report and liked the idea. The walk to the second summit was very pleasant as there was a little breeze blowing and the sun was approaching the horizon. I reached Munro number 2 at 8.45pm.
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Again lots more pictures to try and capture some of these amazing views.
I could see the third summit in the distance, 3km away. So I decided on a camp site approx. 50m below Druim Shionnach. The tent was soon pitched and the dinner put on as it was now 9pm. The sun went down and it was awesome to say the least, I can’t really describe it and the pictures do not do it justice. You have got to be there to experience it.
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This was turning into an amazing experience, it was a shame my wee side kick was not here to experience it! My only concern as I made camp was water or lack of it. Marley and I had drunk most of our supplies and as I ate my dinner I spotted a wee puddle in the distance so I walked over and checked it out. It was very peaty but looked clean enough. I filled up all our bottles and added plenty of chlorine tablets, I figured if I left them over night any bugs would be exterminated. At least I could rest easy knowing that water was sorted for the morning at least.
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It was almost dark and I managed a couple more photos before retiring to the tent at 11pm. I set the alarm for 5.30 and was soon sound asleep. I slept right up until the alarm went off; the tent was bright as the sun was already just coming up above the horizon. I quickly got out and took a look, wow! Amazing again, more pictures and then breakfast. As I was eating I spotted another climber coming towards me, she stopped to chat and explained she had also camped out the night before but further back on the ridge from me, she had started out at 5am as she also had plans for the ridge that day. We said our goodbyes and she set off while I continued packing up my kit.
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I was all packed and on the move by 6.30, already the pack felt heavy and I had a long day ahead of me in soaring temperatures. Made good progress and soon was at the 3rd Munro, Aonach Air Chrith. I got some great shots / views of cloud in the valleys and it was rising fast because of the temperatures. Soon it had burnt off as I pushed on for the 4th Munro on the ridge. I reached the summit of Maol Chinn-dearg at 8.25am; it was hot and humid already. Marley and I was fairly getting through our water reserves and we had not seen anything to top up with, apart from the lochs away down in the valleys, that was a last resort due to the long descent.
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Good progress was being made and the ascent of the next peak was a long slog, Sgurr an doire Leathain summit was reached at just before 10am, Munro number 5. Water was almost gone so it was a great relief to stumble across a couple of wee lochans, we fully replenished the bottles and also had a good soak to cool down, it was close to 25 degrees already and knew I had to rest for a while. I decided to have a decent break and get some fluids in and some food. I rested up for about half an hour, Marley needed it as well but still I had the amazing views to keep me occupied. Feeling refreshed and refuelled we then pushed on along what seemed to be a never ending ridge.
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The peak was Sgurr an Lochain and probably the most impressive looking of the day, it was like stepping into an oven as I climbed up to the summit, the wee gulley’s had no breeze and the rocks where scorching. We did not hang about and made the summit as soon as possible to get out of that heat. Munro 6 summit was reached at a little after 11am and I could now see the final summit in the distance, it did not look too far now. The Saddle and friends was also clearly visible, we had climbed these a few weeks ago.
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It was a wee wander now downhill at first and I bypassed the minor summit, did not fancy it in this heat. I found quite a big lochan at the bealach and Marley had a good swim / cool off and me. I met a couple who were just starting out on the ridge heading in the opposite direction, we chatted briefly mainly about the heat and then went our separate ways.
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Then it was time for the final push to the summit of Creag nan Damh, it was a long old climb with that heavy pack and in the backing heat. The 7th Munro and final summit of the day was reached at 1pm. Phew, I was very proud of myself.
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I travelled along to the bealach Duibh Leac before turning northwards and descending back towards the A87. As soon as I reached the river, I was in.
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I was feeling the heat and needed to cool off and what better way to do it. After the dip it was a fairly short walk down to the road, but then I had the challenge of hitching back to Cluanie. Luckily after about 2.5 miles of tramping down the tarmac a fellow climber stopped off and picked up me and Marley, happy days. Once back at the car I had chance to reflect on the last 24 hours. I had probably experienced some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery at its best and learnt that I need to learn to pack lighter! :D
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davedanson28
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Posts: 334
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Re: What to do in a heatwave? The South Shiel Ridge of cours

Postby weescotsman » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:29 pm

Cracking report and excellent photies Mr Dave, I've yet to do these but they are on the definite to do list. Wouldn't fancy hauling up a 15kg pack as well as doing 7 summits so kudos for you and Marley. I'm sure the wee man mountain goat would enjoy them as well, but maybe not in this heat.

Did Mount Keen a few weeks ago on a boiling hot day and it was a tough one in the heat..... :crazy:
weescotsman
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Re: What to do in a heatwave? The South Shiel Ridge of cours

Postby kev_russ » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:36 pm

Epic quality stuff :)
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kev_russ
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Re: What to do in a heatwave? The South Shiel Ridge of cours

Postby David-Main » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:32 pm

Crackin report Dave, Well done to you and marley, an epic in that heat. :clap: Nice to know there is a wee lochan up there as I want to take my wee dug up there with me.
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David-Main
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Re: What to do in a heatwave? The South Shiel Ridge of cours

Postby davedanson28 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:04 pm

weescotsman wrote:Cracking report and excellent photies Mr Dave, I've yet to do these but they are on the definite to do list. Wouldn't fancy hauling up a 15kg pack as well as doing 7 summits so kudos for you and Marley. I'm sure the wee man mountain goat would enjoy them as well, but maybe not in this heat.

Did Mount Keen a few weeks ago on a boiling hot day and it was a tough one in the heat..... :crazy:

Hey Brian, thanks for the comments! The wee goat is desperate to get out, maybe next week hopefully! :D
Would definitely recommend this ridge to anyone and it can be easily be broken down into smaller days if required! Well done on M. keen in the heat, we need to get over that way soon! :wink:
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davedanson28
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Location: Argyll

Re: What to do in a heatwave? The South Shiel Ridge of cours

Postby davedanson28 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:05 pm

Thanks Kev & David! :D
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davedanson28
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