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by weaselmaster » Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:45 pm
Munros included on this walk: Sgurr nan Coireachan (Glenfinnan), Sgurr Thuilm
Date walked: 08/02/2014
Time taken: 10 hours
Distance: 24.8 km
Ascent: 1745m2 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).
The plan is to climb Thuilm and Coireachan on Saturday and hopefully squeeze Gulvain in on the Sunday. Neither of us were feeling fit - I'd been ill last weekend with some winter plague and Sick Kid was merely suffering from the lack of getting out on the hills. So we knew it might be a big ask fitness wise. Didn't sleep very well overnight, looking out of the tent at one point about 04.30 to see the ground covered with snow or hail, had visions of being snowed into the caravan site Anyway, it had all melted by the time we got up and in fact it was quite a nice morning that greeted us. Along the road a few miles to the parking area just past Glenfinnan visitor centre and kitted up. I'm lugging a spare pair of winter boots plus my snowshoes, making for a heavier than ideal rucksack.
Off up the excellent tarmac road, under the viaduct and up alongside the river. At several points along the route there are deer feeding stations, and large numbers of the beasts around, looking grumpy at having their breakfast interrupted by humans. After around 5km we reach Corryhully bothy - it's been a pleasant walk so far. The track becomes not quite so well surfaced now as we have passed the road to the Estate house. Very little height's been gained and Sgurr Thuilm is visible ahead - unusual to be able to see the chosen target hill from so far out on a walk. Over to the right is Streap, spindrift blowing from its peak - that'll be for another day...Back on the track, there's a variety of interesting bridges along the route, including the bouncy girder one.
Viaduct, Thuilm beyond
DSCF2459 by 23weasels, on Flickr
DSCF2460 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Walking down the glen
DSCF2462 by 23weasels, on Flickr
DSCF2464 by 23weasels, on Flickr
DSCF2465 by 23weasels, on Flickr
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DSCF2468 by 23weasels, on Flickr
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DSCF2471 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Keeping to the track we pass a small sign for Sgurr Coireachan, but manage to miss the turn off for Thuilm and have to cut up the hillside a bit further on than intended. At this first bit of exertion I can feel my unfitness and recent illness conspire to make ascending a real effort - I'm having to stop much more often than usual and Ally says I look terrible - a kind of blue colour. Thanks a lot, chum! Slow progress is made after we find the outline of a path under the snow, which is lying from about 300m in a layer of wet slipperiness. A solitary raven flies past, calling as he goes. I can just make out the western end of Loch Arkaig between the hills over to the right. As we climb, however, visibility is steadily reducing and it's going to be another day of clag views.
Starting to ascend
DSCF2472 by 23weasels, on Flickr
DSCF2473 by 23weasels, on Flickr
DSCF2474 by 23weasels, on Flickr
DSCF2475 by 23weasels, on Flickr
As we get to the 850 top, we see another solo walker making good pace behind us. A fit looking youngish man, he exchanges greetings and asks if we, like him are going straight up and down Thuilm. I reply no, we're planning on walking over to Coireachan, but this does cause me a little consternation...have I miscalculated how long it's going to take...Anyway, he passes and we meet him again descending from the top whilst we're still slogging our way up. It's pretty windy and the snow is hard enough in places for me to fit crampons. Around 12.15 we get to the rather disappointing top of Thuilm, with no views it's just a small cairn. Quick summit shots then we follow our steps back to the fence line and onto the broad ridge to Coireachan. Trying to find some shelter from the wind which is still whipping up snow and ice crystals behind us we stop for lunch. I can see SK is cold and in need of a feed - she stops to put her belay jacket on, but the wind catches her stuffsack and tears the bag from her - it tumbles maybe 150m away down the slope - I grab her axe and tear after it, fortunately the wind lulls now and it rests where it landed. A bit of extra pre-lunch exertion to shed some extra ounces, I think as I toil back to where she's sitting.
Ridge to Coireachan
DSCF2476 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Towards summit Thuilm
DSCF2477 by 23weasels, on Flickr
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DSCF2479 by 23weasels, on Flickr
After a chilly repast we set off westwards along bealach leathann to Beinn Gharbh. There's a friendly line of fenceposts to follow which is a blessing in the poor visibility - snow still falling consistently despite the forecast saying only occasional snow showers. It's an undulating line to follow, dropping 100m then climbing then dropping, frustrating. Another top, Meall an Tarmachain is reached with some clambering about on rocks and intermittent loss of the fenceposts, but we find them again and follow their route up the shoulder of Coireachan. Visibility is very poor at the top, the snow is deep and it's all a little worrying and steep - not the best when you are struggling to see anything. A very quick touch of the cairn and off we go - it's now 3.15, slightly behind what I was hoping for.
Into the clag
DSCF2480 by 23weasels, on Flickr
DSCF2481 by 23weasels, on Flickr
The next section of the walk is not a pleasant experience. The snow is deep and covering everything and we continually come to crags. In these conditions it is really hard to be sure how much of a drop there is from one patch of brilliant white clumps to another below and it doesn't help that I need to remove my goggles to see what i'm doing and my glasses cloud up. Aware of the remaining light time ticking away and the presence of numerous craggy sections that need to be threaded through I start to get a little anxious and irritable. I've got my snowshoes, but one pair between 2 people isn't ideal. I suggest SK put them on as she's struggling with fatigue in the thick soft snow, but the frequent uphill sections that have still to be negotiated are hard going in them. We come to one section around Sgurr a Choire Riabhaich that seems to be on the GPS route I'm using, but everywhere is steep and dangerous looking in the snow. We head too far to the west to bypass the crags then have to skirt back eastward to stay in touch with our route. Then I note I'm just below, to the north of the ridge we should be on, passing along a slope thickly clad with snow where there's evidence of 3 separate avalanches. Nothing for it but to traverse as quickly as possible past the danger area. There's no way I'm going to try and struggle uphill again in these conditions to try and rejoin our route - the appearance of crags in the snow has been challenging enough in the late afternoon light but doesn't bear thinking about by headtorch. So I reckon the safest route is to head down into the valley, where we'll be out of the snow and can follow the river back to our track.
This seems the most sensible idea, but the steep wet grassy slopes down into the glen still have to be negotiated. I lose count of the number of times I slip and fall onto my behind, and am now the possessor of a very wet and soggy rear end - having decided I didn't need my waterproof trousers on earlier, my breeks are now sopping wet and water's running down the inside of my trousers into my boots - Sealskinz don't protect against that Eventually we get to gentler ground, the slipping stops and to our delight we see there's a track running down the east side of the river - much easier than traversing a boggy riverbank. Spirits restored we strike out along the track which we find brings us back to the bouncy girder bridge. We re-join the outward route and soon are passing by the bothy, which has lights on and smoke from a fire gently rising into the twilight air. Resisting curiosity to have a peek inside we continue our march back along to the car park, reaching the car at 18.30. I have a wee chuckle when I see the ascent in metres figure from my GPS - 1745 - seems quite fitting with the Prince Charlie monument glowing in faint orange light over to our left.
Back along the road to the campsite in the rain, both tired and wet. A visit to the showers, which are powerful and hot, give one advantage over wild camping in these conditions and we retire to the tent for the customary noodles dry and warmer. We are also able to check the forecast for sunday, which suggests a stinker of a day with high avalanche risk in most directions, 40-50mph winds and constant driving rain with zero chance of summit visibility predicted. I think Gulvain deserves a better day
It rains heavily all night, which I imagine means it snows heavily up on the mountains. Sleep is hard to come by with the drumming on the nylon and I'm pretty achy in the morning, which I'm blaming mostly on the heavy rucksack - and not being fit. We decide we'll just head home after a leisurely breakfast, where a brilliantly coloured rainbow sits on the loch. Driving down we're both struck by the number of climbers out in Glencoe when we can see the heavy blanket of new snow filling all the gullies and smothering the tops of bein a Bhliether and Bidean.
DSCF2483 by 23weasels, on Flickr
DSCF2484 by 23weasels, on Flickr
IMAG0058 by 23weasels, on Flickr
by scoob999 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:34 pm
by weaselmaster » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:38 pm
scoob999 wrote:Nice to see you on the Munro's again might let me overtake you on the Corbetts
Aye, it was difficult to plan routes that didn't include a Corbett...but need to get fitter again, so you're in with a chance, scoob
by ceaser » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:50 pm
by Scotjamie » Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:07 pm
Glad you negotiated you way down safely...great report
by PeteR » Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:50 pm
I "enjoyed" the descent off Sgurr nan Coireachan in failing light and snow the time I did these two some years back. Not sure I would have enjoyed it so much had I been in the same conditions as the two of you.
by Collaciotach » Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:49 am
Aye Streap is a bonnie hill , save her for a good day and there is the bothy at Gleann Dubh Lighe if you fancy the overnighter with Braigh nan Uamhachan the next day
by MG1976 » Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:10 pm
Some nice pictures as well.
Martin, aka #jealousinyork
by Mountainlove » Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:29 pm
Cracking pictures and well done for heading out on Saturday! It was a rather miserable day.
by scottishkennyg » Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:03 pm
by rockhopper » Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:51 pm
by Bog_Seeking_M1ssle » Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:45 pm
by weaselmaster » Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:54 pm
rockhopper wrote:Sounded hard at times but a good result - nice track, long way but a good walk-in (even better on a bike...... ). From the Saturday night weather, definitely sounded like you picked the better of the two weekend days - cheers
I quite enjoyed the walk in, rather than cycling - haven't got around to taking a bike up with me yet.
Sunday definitely the better day.
noticed your wee sea kayaking business as we drove through Corpach