Hillidays part 1: Gairich headache
by BlackPanther » Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:51 pm
Route description: Gairich, Loch Quoich
Munros included on this walk: Gairich
Date walked: 24/08/2013
Time taken: 6.5 hours
Distance: 17.5 km
Ascent: 870m2 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).
Before we even came to think about flexible compressions, we were preoccupied with planning our trips for the week. On Saturday, the 24th, weather was said to be the best on the western side of the Highlands, so we prepared for a flying visit to Loch Quosh, packed our bags the day before and went to bed early... Unfortunately, one of our neighbours had a "garden party" which lasted well into the small hours of Saturday, as a result we both didn't catch much sleep and greeted the morning with split headaches.
I was desperate to get a mountain under my belt regardless of the rock band playing wild tones inside my skull - extra strong coffee and ibuprofen for breakfast helped a bit.
Weather on the eastern side was wet and miserable, but as we drove SW towards Knoydart, the cloud became patchy, blue sky showed up in places and we were holding our hopes high for a clag-free summit
Gairich was the mountain of our choice, simply because it seemed less steep and less tiring a route than "the twins" on the other side of the loch. Due to our headaches, we played safe, and at the end of the day didn't regret it.
The most popular (and possibly the only logical) daywalker's route up Gairich starts by Quosh Dam, we parked just west of the dam, there is parking space alongside the road for a few cars. We crossed the big concrete construction, gazing west towards our hill - it was still covered in cloud but the day was only beginning...
NOTE: The gate at the entrance of the dam is padlocked, but easy to climb over.
Views east from the dam along Glen Garry:
Once across the dam, we picked an obvious, though boggy path along the shores of Loch Quosh. Gairich, even with the mist around it, looked inviting:
In places, the path was hardly a path, more a muddy swimming pool
After crossing a small stream flowing into Lochan an-Fhigheadair, we saw the path climbing slightly over the moorland. It was less muddy now, but still wet:
We continued on the path (taking diversions on the grass sometimes, to avoid the boggiest spots) to Bealach na Faire:
The cloud was dancing around the pointy top of Gairich, but it was slowly lifting away:
We reached the dip and turned alongside the fence (not crossing a stile). Here, the proper climb to Gairich began. The first 50m or so of ascent were terrible - wet, muddy and slippery, exactly the type of slope I hate the most Plus my head was still home to the rock band with a crazy drummer as a leader
Looking down to the boggiest stage:
Higher up, a better, wider stalker's path appears and the going gets drier. We took a short break to hydrate and swallow more ibuprofen...
Looking towards Sgurr a' Mhaoraich (left) and Gleouriach:
View east to Glen Kingie, the stalker's path looking friendly now:
Higher up Druim na Gaid Salaich, we could now see our objective:
Glen Kingie again, cloud to the east and south still laying low. We had no chance to see the full panorama, no way Nevis Range would be visible through that clag:
The path became less distinctive and more boggy again, as we neared the final climb to Gairich, my headache was easing and even with the cloud hanging on, I could smile at last!
Sgurr an Fhuarain peeking out from behind Gairich:
The inaccessible hills across Glen Kingie:
The final climb didn't look too bad from where I was standing, but I remembered that later on this route involved some easy scrambling:
We started on the path, now obvious again, zig-zagging up the steep slope. I was glad to see more and more views opening up After about 15 min though, we both had to slow down, we couldn't keep up the usual pace. Lack of sleep, drumming madmen inside our skulls, what else?...
Or maybe it was just an excuse to take a break and savour the perfect landscape?...
The path, upper Glen Kingie and Sgurr Mhurlagain:
Down to the dam:
Loch Quosh and to the right, Bac nam Foid, the large area of peat hags and tiny lochans:
Bac nam Foid and Glen Kingie beyond:
The final push to the summit is very steep and includes a few easy scrambles, but to be honest, only one bit involved grabbing rock with hands and even here the rock had plenty of good hand- and footholds. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed and asked - that was IT? Aaaah, if all scrambles in the Cuillin were THAT easy!
Just below the steepest part, filming the vertical drops of upper Coire Thollaidh:
Weather was improving:
One more glimpse east to Loch Quosh and the dam, with Spidean Mialach to the right:
Eventually, feeling completely knackered, we reached the summit in an absolutely rubbish time 3 hours 15 min... And here we decided to sit tight until the cloud was gone!
At the moment, the clag was just above the top of Gairich, so only the loch was visible - an interesting perspective:
Some summit views - the wild country of Knoydart:
Sgurr Mhurlagain and Fraoch Bheinn, with Streap and Sgurr Thuilm behind:
The Nevis Range still not in sight...
Enjoying the moment...
The cloud did lift a bit more and the panorama of western parts of Knoydart came in sight - Sgurr Mor and Sgurr na Ciche dominating the view:
The long ridge of Sgurr nan Eugallt, a superb Corbett with great views, some lovely memories from earlier this year:
Ladhar Bheinn just about visible:
A wider perspective down to Loch Quosh and Sgurr a' Mhaoraich:
Glen Quoich and the southern slopes of Glen Shiel Ridge:
We lazed about on the summit of Gairich for over half an hour but it was worth the wait - as much as the cloud lifted, we were granted with some superb views The headache slowly going away, I was now back to my usual meowing self!
Kevin's Munro No. 149, just one shy of the nice round number 150:
It was a lovely spot on the summit of Gairich, but we couldn't stay here forever... We knew, we were not going to beat the time record for the fastest ascent/descent so there was no need to hurry. The steep sloes were waiting
We were lucky to have the summit to ourselves, as on the way back we met a long cue of walkers, about 20 people slowly making their way up. I hope they enjoyed the climb as much as we did, apart from the headache of course
Summing up, a good hill for any time of the year, possibly better for dry times (or winter). Good waterproof boots and gaiters necessary. If cloud free, the summit is a fantastic viewpoint.
On Sunday, Hilliday adventures took us to one very much neglected and overlooked Corbett, which we counted as one of the best walks this year, with mind-boggling views. The story will come soon. Meow!
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by BlackPanther » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:39 am
To see more happy grins, wait for the second day