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Saddled

Saddled


Postby weaselmaster » Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:38 pm

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

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

Date walked: 26/07/2013

Time taken: 8.15 hours

Ascent: 1516m

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Having spent a week’s break in Kintail earlier this month I had thought about trying to climb The Saddle during my holiday, but weather, particularly high winds, prevented that. And to be honest, I was more than a little anxious about the Forcan Ridge. :roll: Being a bit of a scaredy cat there are certain hills that I have in mind as waypoints on my journey of hillwalking experience, and the Forcan Ridge was definitely one of them. A couple of months back it was the An Stuc and the Tarmachan Ridge that were in my immediate sights as scary things, now the bar’s been raised a little. So with a “free” Friday before a course in Skye at the weekend, time looked about ready for tackling the Forcan :wtf: .

I don’t normally pay too much attention to routes in advance, just draw them on the map, put them on the GPS and probably read a couple of trip reports, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve read numerous reports of the FR, studied the dreaded (for me, anyway) downclimb and got myself generally anxious about it – at the same time regarding being able to manage it as an essential step in self-progression. Oh, the bother we sometimes put upon ourselves! To make matters a little more troublesome, there was rain and a high risk of thunderstorms predicted. What would be worse – falling off the FR or being hit by lightning? Possibly falling off the ridge and being hit by lightning on the way down? :crazy: :crazy:

So we left Greenock on Thursday night in a state of some trepidation, to camp up at Loch Cluanie so we could manage a reasonably early start feeling rested on the Friday. Little did we know at the time, but there had been a torrential downpour in Greenock about an hour after we left and a block of flats had been set on fire by a lightning strike! :shock: Great omen, that…Another hazard, albeit a smaller, winged one, namely the *Midge* was abominable overnight, with the inside of the fly sheet on the tent being a thick layer of Midge when we woke. Fortunately they weren’t bad on the hill. :D

Weather was better at first than we’d thought likely – the Glen Shiel hills being mostly clear at the tops with swathes of cloud and mist rolling over then away again.
Image
P1030258 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1030259 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sisters
Image
P1030260 by 23weasels, on Flickr

It was hot and a bit muggy as we headed up the good path up to Meallan Odhar and got our first view of the imposing jaggy ridge ahead.

Image
P1030262 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1030263 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1030264 by 23weasels, on Flickr

At least the rock is dry, I told myself – one of Allison’s particular pet hates being wet rock. We got to the beginning of the ridge and the first little bit of scrambling – felt good and quite exciting. Ahead of us we could see the ridge proper wending its way into the clag – looking increasingly likely that we were going to get some rain for company – bang goes the dry rock factor. :o


Image
P1030266 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1030267 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1030268 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1030271 by 23weasels, on Flickr

By this time I am beginning to enjoy the day – keeping to the crest of the ridge rather than using the muddy – and slippier – bypass routes below is pretty exhilarating. We come to a narrow prow – I’m sure this is going to be the “downclimb” bit – and yes, it is. :shifty:

Image
P1030272 by 23weasels, on Flickr

By this time the rain has been on, the rock is wet and I’m poised above the fairly steep descent deep in thought. I’m pretty sure I can get down to the jutting out rocks which are about halfway down, but I can’t see from here what you do after that.

Image
P1030273 by 23weasels, on Flickr

I remember reading Black Panther’s report of how she managed, and other folk talking about feeling for footholds below them. Is it time to “man-up” and go for it, or do I bottle it and use the left hand bypass? At this point a peal of thunder rumbles around me and I reckon that’s possibly a sign I should think twice. Allison’s already decided that she’s using the bypass and she reminds me that we’re on our way to Skye to do a two day scrambling course – maybe it would be sensible to consider this dilemma after rather than before doing the course? Maybe she’s right – maybe would have been different with dry rock, maybe whatever, but with a somewhat deflated feeling I join her on the slippery, and still steep, path down to the left, through the window slot and out at the bottom of the downclimb section. :oops:

Looking back up at the downclimb:
Image
P1030274 by 23weasels, on Flickr

There’s still plenty of interest up ahead, and I enjoy going over the knife edge slabs and up the steep pull towards the cairn, again with some interesting narrow and exposed sections. Haven’t been troubled by exposure at all today, which makes me feel a bit better about making progress with my fear of heights, despite my chickening out earlier on.

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P1030275 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1030276 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1030278 by 23weasels, on Flickr

As we near the summit, there’s some clearing of the views, a mass of thick white cloud roiling below us over Glen Shiel and the south-east hills.

Image
P1030279 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1030280 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1030282 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1030283 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Up to the cairn then the trig point with a sense of some satisfaction.
Image
P1030285 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We sit and eat our sandwiches until an even louder rumble of thunder from the other end of Glen Shiel makes me a little concerned that we are sitting at 1010 metres with nothing higher around us for some kilometres – maybe it would be a good idea to lose some height, quickly! Allison’s more phlegmatic, suggesting that as the lightning’s “miles away” we’ll be fine. 8)

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P1030286 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1030287 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sgurr na Sgine
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P1030288 by 23weasels, on Flickr

After we do descend (hastily – my nerves won :lol: ) towards Bealach Coire Mhalagain we disappear into clag and bog. Soon we pick up the faint path through the rocky bits towards the Lochan and decide (as there hasn’t been much more thunder) that we’ll go up Sgurr na Sgine anyway (to be honest I don’t think that was ever really in doubt).

Looking back on the Forcan
Image
P1030289 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1030290 by 23weasels, on Flickr

It’s a bit of boulder crossing up to the shoulder of the hill, then an easy amble across to the summit. We park ourselves over to the east of the cairn where there’s an impressive drop to Bealach an Toteil and look over to the horrible descent path we took from Creag nan Damh we took a few weeks ago coming off the south Shiel ridge. We have had some chat about how to get back today – given that Allison is still in “rehab” from her knee problems – and we’re about to go scrambling for 2 days in Skye – we decide it would be wise to avoid the usual route down the shoulder of Faochag back to the road, which is generally described as “knee-crunching” in most reports.

Faochag
Image
P1030291 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit SnS
Image
P1030292 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Looking north over glen shiel
Image
P1030293 by 23weasels, on Flickr

And to the South
Image
P1030295 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Forcan again
Image
P1030296 by 23weasels, on Flickr


Instead we head back down to the bealach and follow the drystane wall, which I believe is the route to the Saddle if you avoid the FR – what a disappointment of an ascent that would be if you took it rather than the FR! It was, at any rate, a knee-sparing way down from the pair of hills and joins up with the ascent route we took at the start of the path up to the FR. Sky is clearing up nicely and we get some nice views back to the FR and across to the Sisters.

Image
P1030299 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Pass a rock on the footpath with strange quartz swirls which I think looks like a ghostly figure with its arms raised scaring a small child.
Image
P1030300 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1030301 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Back to the car in something just over 8 hours and feeling quite happy with the day’s exploits. Head along over to Skye with some good views of the Black Cuillin – down to the Glen Brittle Hut for the next instalment of the weekend’s adventures… :twisted:
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weaselmaster
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Re: Saddled

Postby Backpacker » Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:48 pm

Cracking report and some good pics to.

You're fair rattling through them this year and I thought I was doing well

Well done :clap:
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Re: Saddled

Postby dooterbang » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:11 pm

I love this ridge. It's just about my comfort zone without crapping myself. Glad you really enjoyed it.

First time i did this i took the knee jerking route down and it was torture, next time i did the drystone wall...much more pleasant.

Well done on facing your fears. An Teallach should provide more fun :wink:
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Re: Saddled

Postby rockhopper » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:41 pm

Well done both of you ! Have yet to get to the actual ridge but think I'll keep it for a (very) dry day - looks a bit slippery in the wet - cheers :)
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Re: Saddled

Postby Collaciotach » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:51 pm

Glé mhath ... well done and some atmospheric pictures to :D

Thinking of doing this at the weekend with the by pass paths for the dog , he is agile and quick probably a better scrabbler than me :lol:
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Re: Saddled

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:59 pm

Collaciotach wrote:Glé mhath ... well done and some atmospheric pictures to :D

Thinking of doing this at the weekend with the by pass paths for the dog , he is agile and quick probably a better scrabbler than me :lol:


Thanks.
That would be a great one for your 150 - go for it!
Your dog should be fine on the bypass routes I reckon :thumbup:
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weaselmaster
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Re: Saddled

Postby BlackPanther » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:48 am

Wow! despite the cloud, what a fantastic day on the hills. Brings back memories :D
Don't beat yourself about taking the bypass on the "bad step". Wet rock is much more slippery. Better go around than regret later with a plastered limb :shock:
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Re: Saddled

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:56 am

BlackPanther wrote:Don't beat yourself about taking the bypass on the "bad step". Wet rock is much more slippery. Better go around than regret later with a plastered limb :shock:


Ach, I know - but when you'd written such an inspirational account of managing it I did feel a bit pathetic at turning away - but yeah, in the conditions it was probably the sensible thing to do :shh:
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