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Torridon revisited

Torridon revisited

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:34 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Wyvis, Ruadh-stac Mòr (Beinn Eighe), Spidean Coire nan Clach (Beinn Eighe)

Date walked: 03/11/2013

Time taken: 12.3 hours

Distance: 36 km

Ascent: 2364m

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With winter coming on I was quite keen to get another few hills in this weekend before shortened days make it a real challenge. The weather forecast was doing quite enough changing around to make the choice of location challenging in its own right, but decided on a trip to Torridon for Beinn Eighe and the pairing of Beinn Liath Mhor & Sgurr Ruadh. Or so I thought... Struck down with a bad dose of man-flu it was questionable whether to go at all - the last thing I felt like doing on friday afternoon after snuffling around with a sore throat was getting into the car, in the rain and driving 250 miles in the dark to pitch a tent in the dark. Allison came in to my office to suggest we call the weekend off, but that is not the way of the weasel :roll: Oh no - changed, into the car and off up the A9.

We had decided to use the free campsite at Torridon village- got there after 10pm to find one other tent (that we later discovered belonged to one man with 3 dogs - though they made very little of the barking noises). The ground was rather soggy, but we pitched and had a bit of sleep, in my case assisted by a glug or two of Night Nurse. Up at 7 to find a reasonably bright morning, set off the 3 miles up the road to the parking spot for Beinn Eighe. We'd decided to do the route anticlockwise and met a couple in a camper van who were doing it t'other way. Off we trotted the couple of Km along the road, past the mighty presence of Liathach, to the start point.

P1050003 by 23weasels, on Flickr

P1050005 by 23weasels, on Flickr

P1050008 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The path is well made and took us steadily up through heather, with torrents of water rushing by in the stream beds. As we gained height we moved amongst the quartzite scree. It got colder, with some clumps of wet snow and for a time it appeared that the clag was going to come in.

P1050010 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sgurr Ban
P1050012 by 23weasels, on Flickr

East ridge of Eighe
P1050015 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View west to Liathach & Alligin
P1050018 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Clearing up nicely
P1050020 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Top of Spidean Coire nan Clach with Sgurr Ban beyond
P1050022 by 23weasels, on Flickr

There was a narrow rocky section to be negotiated to get to the summit cairn of Spidean- made slippy with fresh snowfall the drop down into the coire was a wee bit scary, but the scenery was so beautiful that my mind didn't linger on the dangers.

P1050024 by 23weasels, on Flickr

P1050025 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View across to Ruadh stac mhor
P1050027 by 23weasels, on Flickr

P1050029 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Drop to the coire
P1050031 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit Spidean
P1050032 by 23weasels, on Flickr

P1050033 by 23weasels, on Flickr

P1050036 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Liathach again
P1050038 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The route to Coinneach Mhor was rocky and hard going at times, but always with the sense of walking in an exalted realm with scenery like this. The wind started to get up and we took shelter in the leeward side by Coinneach Mhor to have an early lunch before heading down to the bealach that joined it with Ruadh Stac Mhor. We could see the couple from the car park just ahead of us, having come up by the triple buttress. Clag had descended by this point and wasn't to lift again. Wind became a good deal stronger, blasting snow into our faces - thankfully we both had goggles which made for a more bearable experience as we struggled over the rocks towards the summit.

Cliffs beside the triple buttress
P1050040 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The couple from the car park nearing top of RSM
P1050041 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit RSM
P1050042 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We reached the top then chatted in a sheltered spot to the couple we'd met, turned out they came from a few miles along the road from ourselves and were now down to their last 50 Munros. I was glad we'd chosen the anticlockwise route, as I didn't fancy their plight of having to ascend Spidean with a blizzard in the face. We went down the steep scree run to the triple buttress which was really quite fun, glissading on small scree. Even Allison managed it better than usual on scree.

P1050046 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We then entered another land of primeval shapes thrusting from the ground, path disappearing into the clag, lochans and streams, the grokk of a raven...as we walked round Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair the triple buttress looked uncannily like those US presidents heads carved into Mount Rushmore if the facial features had been eroded by winds and rains of 100 million years.

P1050050 by 23weasels, on Flickr

P1050052 by 23weasels, on Flickr

There's a long walk out, but on such a gentle gradient of descent and on a well made path that I ddin't really mind. The rain didn't let up much but the wind was more bearable at this altitude and we were pleasantly relieved to see the car in the end. Nipped along to the Torridon Inn for a pint - was going to make do with noodles in the tent, but the lure of hot food in a warm, dry environment was too strong to resist, so we stayed there for food. A very satisfying hill was Beinn Eighe.
P1050054 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Returning to the tent in the rain and cold wasn't much fun. It continued to rain all night, pelting against the tent fabric. The wind was also getting up - at times it would growl and snarl into crescendos and these seemed to get more frequent and stronger as the morning approached. The weather forecasts we checked in the pub last night had been at odds with each other - MWIS telling us the effect of wind would be small, while the Met Office was promising us gales. Ho hum. By the sound of the wind outside the tent we weren't going to be going up any hills today.

P1050056 by 23weasels, on Flickr

I knew that we needed an early start if we were to manage our chosen twosome for today, but couldn't rouse myself ito that sort of weather. However, about 8.30 it seemed to improve, the rain stopped for a while and I thought we should do something. It Beinn Liath Mhor & Sgurr Ruadh were out on account of time, then we could do Maol Chinn Dearg, but didn't have that on my map, or we could nip up and do Ben Wyvis - didn't have a map for that either but did have the route on my satnav and reckoned it would have an easy to follow path. Settling on that, we made haste to get away and were at the parking area for Wyvis by 10.30. Only 2 other cars there...

i knew only two things about Ben Wyvis - one was that the lower slopes were inhabited by herds of wild boar that would eat a walker as soon as look at him; the other that it was a notoriously windy hill. And we were choosing to do a windy hill on a windy day. Hmmm

We didn't meet any boar desperadoes as we walked up the side of the Allt a Bhealaich Mhor, but did see some lovely autumnal colours. The shapely An Cabar was tipped with snow as we meandered up through the trees. We met a group of 4 sitting eating breakfast who told us they'd had to turn back because of the wind just after the snowline. Hmm.

P1050058 by 23weasels, on Flickr

P1050059 by 23weasels, on Flickr

P1050060 by 23weasels, on Flickr

An Cabar
P1050061 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The plateau reaching to Glas Leathad Mhor
P1050062 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View west
P1050063 by 23weasels, on Flickr

So far it had been a nice morning, albeit a bit windy, but we could see the weather-front coming in from the west, bringing no good, feared I.
P1050065 by 23weasels, on Flickr

As we neared the snowline we met another couple who had made it to the top, but reported it was "pretty grim" due to the winds. We set foot on the snow and the wind rose steadily, pushing us bodily about. Goggles on, hoods up, face the beast. We would be heading into it one moment, then the zigzags would turn us round, an all over buffetting ensued.

P1050066 by 23weasels, on Flickr

P1050067 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We made the top of An Cabar and sheltered behind one of the cairns which provided enough shelter to allow us to eat some lunch - though a few Pringles got lofted skywards! Stood up after lunch and promptly got blown over! This must be about as strong a wind as I've walked in. Seriously thought about giving up and turning round due to the wind and the clag ahead which was promising white out conditions. However Allison was for going on, and the sun briefly appeared showing the way, so I struggled to my feet and pressed on aginast the wind.

The trip over to the summit must be about 1km and for all that time we were blasted by a roaring demon, sometimes throwing icy teeth of hail into our numbed faces. We were able to lean at a preposterous angle into the wind and remain upright.
P1050070 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Trig point was eventually reached, we didn't linger but set off again along the path we'd come up on - when we could see the footsteps in the snow, as the wind was eagerly trying to ablate their existance. Made it back to the top of An Cabar where we met one of those hill runner types, then down the slippery zigzags, being blown over a few times for good measure. Getting down beneath the snow line was like entering another realm - golden sunlight warmed the yellow and orangey foliage, the wind subsided to a mere kitten and the walk back to the car was pleasurable.

P1050072 by 23weasels, on Flickr
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Re: Torridon revisited

Postby PeteR » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:51 pm

Looking at your Wyvis pictures I was going to say what a difference a week makes as I was there last weekend with nae snow. Then you described the ferocious wind :shock: and it seemed nothing had changed after all :lol:

Beinn Eighe looks good, despite the weather you had. Not sure I fancy Torridon in the high winds though. Think I'll wait till spring to pay me a visit :wink:
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Re: Torridon revisited

Postby Collaciotach » Mon Nov 04, 2013 8:04 am

Nice one Weasel not been out for a few weeks so good to see some busy peeps :clap:
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Re: Torridon revisited

Postby Johnny Corbett » Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:03 pm

Great stuff, love the Torridon mountains. Got plans to keep Ruadh Stac-Mor for my last one.
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Re: Torridon revisited

Postby litljortindan » Mon Nov 04, 2013 7:33 pm

Like those photos of Ben Eighe, particularly those with boulders as foreground.
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