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A beautiful morning on Ruadh-stac Beag

A beautiful morning on Ruadh-stac Beag


Postby malky_c » Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:04 pm

Route description: Ruadh-stac Beag

Corbetts included on this walk: Ruadh-stac Beag

Date walked: 21/02/2010

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 900m

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Corbetts: Ruadh-stac Beag
Date walked: 21/02/2010
Distance: 14km
Ascent: 900m
Time: 4 hours
Weather: The perfect winter's day

My original plans for this weekend had been to stay close to home and possibly grab a small hill if the opportunity presented itself. However, the weather forcast changed for the better on Friday, and after spending all of Saturday stripping my bike down and doing other tedious chores, I decided something a bit grander was in order. My wife wasn't so happy with the idea of me buggering off with the car all day, so I opted for an early start.

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On the drive over, things were shaping up fairly well, and I was parked up at the pony path in Kinlochewe and on my way for 8am (quite some achievement for me!). The sun was out, but I was still in the shade at the bottom, so things were somewhat cold.

Slioch and Beinn a Mhuinidh (Mullach Choire Mhic Fhearchair in distance):
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Meall a Ghiubhais:
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By the time I hit the snowline at about 350 m, I was in the sun and the going was actually getting quite warm. I left the path shortly before the high point and worked my way towards Creag Dubh on the end of Ben Eighe. As I rounded the end of this ridge, it loooked steeper and steeper, until at one point it almost appeared as a sort of mini-Matterhorn. The snow was soft at first, but higher up in the corrie, aside from a few drifts, it was mainly hard packed and made a satisfying squeak when walked on. I followed lateral moraines up the E side of the corrie, mainly making good progress.

Looking into Coire an Tuill Bhan (my destination on the R):
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Back to Fannaichs and Fionn Bheinn:
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Mini Matterhorn...Creag Dhubh on the E end of Ben Eighe:
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Ruadh-stac Beag:
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At one point (in the comfort of my house of course), I had contemplated gaining the summit of Ruadh-stac Beag from the N, scrambling through various bands of crags. Looking at it, I could see a fairly obvious line of weakness zig-zagging across the E side of the nose. However it looked rather steep and precarious, I wasn't sure what the snow was like, and didn't really feel confident going up it on my own. So I decided to stick to the easy route, approaching from the col to the south.

Interesting route for another time:
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As I got further into the corrie, the rock architecture got more and more impressive. It isn't quite Coire Mhic Fhearchair (the one with the triple buttress), but still very grand feeling nonetheless.

Spidean Coire nan Clach:
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Looking back to Slioch:
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Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe and the Black Carls:
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At the col, the final ridge looked steep but much shorter than I was expecting (not very ridge like either lower down, more just a slope). Also there were lots of boulders sticking through the snow, meaning little opportunity for an avalanche. This was a good thing, as the snow on the ridge was not quite the step cutting, front pointing dream I had envisaged. More a rapidly thawing crust of hard snow covering much softer stuff. I didn't bother with axe and crampons as there was plenty of rock about to get a decent footing, but dinner plate sized pieces of crust kept breaking off and falling away down the hill. If the slope had been smoother and less bouldery, I don't think it would have been a great place to hang around at all... That said, the snow was almost certainly more pleasant than the ball-bearing like treadmill that this would be in the summer.

S ridge from the col:
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Spidean Coire nan Clach:
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A couple of easy scrambling moves at the top (cold hands!) and a quick stroll across the plateau, and I was at the cairn. Almost exactly 2 hours from the car, which for once was what I had predicted, although the walking up the corrie took much longer than expected, and the final ridge much less. The views were as spectacular as you might expect, although not very long ranging. This summit is pretty much hemmed in on 3 sides by the rest of Ben Eighe, but you get glimpses over various cols to Liathach, Baosbhein and others. Also great views to Slioch, A' Mhaigdhean and Mullach Choire Mhic Fhearchair.

Fannaichs from the edge of the summit plateau:
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Spidean Coire nan Clach and top of Triple Buttress, with the highest bits of Liathach poking through behind:
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Loch Maree, Beinn Araigh Charr, Meall Mhennidh, Beinn Lair and Meall a Ghibuhais. Note low lying snow on coastline:
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The big Ruadh-stac, Baosbheinn and Beinn an Eoin:
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Coire Ruadh-staca and Choinneach Mhor:
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Halfway up the S ridge - scrambly bit ahead:
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Ruadh Stac-mor:
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Spidean Coire nan Clach:
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Meall a Ghiubhais, A Mhaigdean and Slioch:
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...and Spidean Coire nan Clach again:
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Really just the same views repeatedly, but so good!
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Fionn Bheinn:
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Out to the west, signs of a change in weather were brewing, with the Western Isles engulfed in mist to the point of not being able to see them. Also, despite most of the coastal moorland around Gairloch being free of snow, the westernmost peninsula between Loch Ewe and Loch Gairloch was covered in snow right to the sea, as was the north end of Skye.

Had a good sit about on the summit and experimented with my new mini tripod. This was rather unsuccessful, falling over the first time I tried to get a self portrait. The second time, something strange happened with the exposure time, giving this rather ghostly image:

Ghost Malc:
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A light breeze was present, and after 25 min or so of messing around at the summit, my fingers were numb. At this point I decided to head back. I went the same way as I had ascended, although this time I decided to carry my axe. It was barely necessary aside from steadying me during a couple of moves higher up, and in no time I was packing it, my coat and my gloves away at the col. The ridge ahead looked like it might offer an unusual route onto Spidean Coire nan Clach, but not one I was going to try at this moment!

The descent:
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Liathach with Ben Eighe in front from just below the scambly bit:
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Retracing my steps back down the corrie, there were lovely views of the much smoother Fannaichs, strung out above Kinlochewe. Also looking like it would be interesting was Beinn a Mhuinidh opposite, with its impressive waterfall.

Last look at the south ridge:
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Meall a Ghiubhais:
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Looking back to the E end of Ben Eighe:
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Beinn a Mhuinidh - waterfall dead centre:
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At one point I had considered doing Meall a Ghuithais as well, and there was certainly plenty of daylight and good weather for it. Then I remembered I had promised to be home earlyish, and decided I had already had a great day. The addition of another hill didn't seem worth the pain I would have to endure if I got home late... :crazy:

As it was, I was back at the car for 12 and home just after one, so everything was fine and dandy. Brilliant morning out!

Obligatory Glen Docherty viewpoint shot:
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Last edited by malky_c on Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A beautiful morning on Ruadh-stac Beag

Postby Lochivraon » Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:33 pm

Beautiful Torridon scenery captured in you pix. I have still to do this Corbett, so I enjoyed your report very much. Unfortunately it's likely to be a summer ball bearing and quartzite block exercise. Great to see it in winter clothing. Cheers!
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Re: A beautiful morning on Ruadh-stac Beag

Postby malky_c » Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:18 pm

I'm sure it would still be a worthwhile hill to do in the summer as well. There may well be other scrambling opportunities on it, but I didn't really feel like exploring in those conditions.
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Re: A beautiful morning on Ruadh-stac Beag

Postby CurlyWurly » Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:45 pm

That is a great report and the mountain looks awesome in the snow. Did you have it to to yourself or was there anyone else up there?
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Re: A beautiful morning on Ruadh-stac Beag

Postby malky_c » Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:02 pm

Didn't see anyone else all morning, although the multiple footprints/snow-shoe prints I followed suggested that at least one other group had been up there at the weekend.

Quite surprising really. I'd imagine this is less popular than most Torridon hills, but it's still quite a decent hill, and very accessible. I suppose there is just so much choice in that area that people tend spread out over a lot of different hills!
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Re: A beautiful morning on Ruadh-stac Beag

Postby kinley » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:32 pm

Corker of a day for it.

Beautiful shots too 8)
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Re: A beautiful morning on Ruadh-stac Beag

Postby gaffr » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:57 pm

Many thanks for the report in a favourite area for me....especially the one with Baosbheinn and Beinn an Eoin.
What were you doing driving back to Inverness, in a warm car, when you could have been up Meall a' Ghuithais? :lol: :?
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Re: A beautiful morning on Ruadh-stac Beag

Postby malky_c » Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:24 pm

Cheers all. Sometimes the conditions make taking OK photos so easy!

gaffr wrote:What were you doing driving back to Inverness, in a warm car, when you could have been up Meall a' Ghuithais? :lol: :?


Does seem like a waste of half of a day, but not worth the trouble. Wife is pregnant at the moment and somewhat touchy. Best just to do as she says (some of the time at least!) :lol:
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Re: A beautiful morning on Ruadh-stac Beag

Postby kevsbald » Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:58 pm

Fabulous.
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Re: A beautiful morning on Ruadh-stac Beag

Postby foggieclimber » Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:25 pm

Found this to be an awkward wee b*****r of a hill in summer. Lots of boulders to cross. Perhaps Winter is the best time of year to do it. Great pics.
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Re: A beautiful morning on Ruadh-stac Beag

Postby mountain coward » Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:10 pm

Hmmm - with all this permissions thing and coming home early/missing hills, I can see why I never married! Great pics! (I'd have been pretty upset to miss the other Corbett tho...) Looking at your pics, I tend to agree this hill is probably best done under snow instead of on the summer scree...
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