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Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/


Postby GillC » Thu May 29, 2014 1:18 am

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Meadhoin, Saileag, Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg, Sgurr Fhuaran, Sgurr na Carnach, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe

Date walked: 17/05/2014

Time taken: 13.5 hours

Distance: 23 km

Ascent: 2120m

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Quoman, Tomsie and myself arrived in Kintail last night (Tomsie arriving after the tents were up!) for the start of an 8 night camp in Kintail and Skye. Day 1 was already planned, Brothers and Sisters ridge for Wullie and myself, Brothers only for John as he had the Sisters ridge done.

It had been drizzling most of Friday night and the campsite at Shiel Bridge was a bit of a puddle. We had only just managed to get a decent spot big enough for our 2 x 3 man tents. Saturday morning was shaping up to be a good one, high cloud, no rain, blue sky and the prospect of bagging 6 Munros in one go.

The WH route starts at the Cluanie Inn, climbing up the shoulder to the North West. Instead, we opted to park further West, just as the trees ended at the Allt a Choire burn. Starting off up the left hand side of the burn and deciding to cross, Wullie nearly came a cropper on some slippy rocks. Deciding we didn't want to get soggy so early in the day (if only I knew), John and I went the short distance back to the road, crossed the bridge and followed a good track through a gate and on up.

1  Morning views to the Forcan Ridge.JPG
Morning views to the Forcan Ridge

3 Checking everythings intact.JPG
Checking everythings intact

4 Sorted, like an American tourist  lol.JPG
Sorted, like an American tourist lol


A very easy going section, with views up to the shoulder the WH route takes you. Checking the map and the view ahead, into Coire na Cadha, we pushed on to the sheep folds where we stopped to take off a layer or two, nice and warm under the sun by now. The section was a bit boggy with some very small tributaries running into the main burn.

2 Watery sun through the trees.JPG
Watery sun through the trees

5 Lovely clear burn over the red rocks.JPG
Lovely clear burn over the red rocks

6 Up in to the corrie.JPG
Up in to the corrie

7 Stopping for a breather.JPG
Stopping for a breather

8 Back down to the road and the start of the South Shiel Ridge.JPG
Back down to the road and the start of the South Shiel Ridge


Changing direction slightly North, we picked out a route up beside the Allt na Steille Baine, zig zagging across the corrie.

9 Boys on the up.JPG
Boys on the up

10 .....and the up.JPG
.....and the up

11 East over Loch Cluanie.JPG
East over Loch Cluanie


This is quite a steep slog but soon brought us up to Aonach Meadhoin, the first Munro of the day at 1001 mtrs. Still a lovely clear day, bit of a chilly breeze but otherwise, fab. Few pics taken at the small cairn (just a pile of stones really :crazy: )

12 Summit of Aonach Meadhoin.JPG
Summit of Aonach Meadhoin

13 Munro #75.JPG
Munro #75

14 Intrepid men of adventure indeed.JPG
Intrepid men of adventure indeed


A great ridge leads us off to the West, dropping around 180 mtrs, before climbing again around Coire nan Eun on the North side. I think we reached the second Munro, Sgurr a Bhealaich Dheirg, a little off the main path at 1036 mtrs after about an hour. A nice wee cairn here but the clouds were now gathering around us, not good.

15 Ciste Dubhe, cant believe I cross that steep mid section in full icy snow and crampons in January!!!!!.JPG
Ciste Dubhe, cant believe I crossed that steep mid section in full icy snow and crampons in January!!!!!

16 Smashing ridge ahead.JPG
Smashing ridge ahead

17 Summit of Sgurr a Bhealaich Dheirg.JPG
Summit of Sgurr a Bhealaich Dheirg

18 Weather closing in heading for Munro number 3.JPG
Weather closing in heading for Munro number 3


The path from here, continuing across the ridge is great, no problems sticking to it as the clag came down and a bit of smirry rain came on. Nothing to worry about.

The steep North face of the ridge still carried a lot of snow and we had one or two small patches to negotiate. Icy and hard to cut in to with my leather boots so let Wullie break the snow with his firmer boots and we followed on.

19 John and Wullie on the good path above some lingering soggy cornices.JPG
John and Wullie on the good path above some lingering soggy cornices


With the weather worsening, we moved on to Saileag, the 3rd (and lowest) of todays Munros. 956 mtrs. The cairn here was a small flat pile of stones really and with clag all around now, we just took some pics and moved off.

20 3rd of the Brother, (not me, Saileag).JPG
3rd of the Brothers, (not me, Saileag)


A nice smooth descent of around 225 mtrs heading West took us down to Bealach an Lapain, which is also the start point if doing the Sisters ridge from the East.

At this stage, the rain was getting a bit heavier so stopped to put full waterproofs on. John was heading off here, Sisters already bagged. It was now 12:30 and we had taken 4.5hrs from the start point to here. Estimating a further 5-6 hrs for the Sisters, we agreed we would contact/meet up with John later. The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men , Gang aft agley !!! never a truer word.

John took a picture of us disappearing into the mist and oblivion beyond. I only managed 2 pics on the approach to the 4 Munro, camera remained firmly in the waterproof drybag along with phone etc for the rest of the day.

21 Wullie peering into the abyss.JPG
Wullie peering into the abyss

22 The pits of hell,,well looking towards the first of the Sisters Munros, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe.JPG
The pits of hell,,well looking towards the first of the Sisters Munros, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe


I knew the Sisters was a very undulating traverse but with the rain now on pretty heavily and the wind picking up to serious gusts, this was fast becoming a bit of a nightmare.

Reaching Sgurr nan Spainteach, named after some Spaniards who helped in the Jacobite uprising, we stopped for a fuel break. Peanut butter and jam sandwich, fab. It took 2 hrs to get from the Bealach of Johns departure, to Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, Munro number 4 at 1027 mtrs.

From here on, it's all a bit of a blur, events just happened. We climbed up and down the ridge, steep descents and rocky climbs, howling wind and driving rain. My hat annoyed me,,my hair annoyed me,,the wind and rain annoyed me,,,and I annoyed Wullie lol :lol:

Some snow sections were very icy and steep with Wullie having to come back over the top of a steep part, cut me wee steps up to the crest to let me follow on. We made no stops at the summits of Sgurr na Carnach (1002 mtrs) and Sgurr Fhuaran (1067 mtrs), no conditions to take out cameras or stop, just keep moving. My feet had been wet for ages and now were sloshing around in my boots.

The climb up to the last Munro was hellish, rocky scrambling in howling weather. I was over taken by 2 guys moving like rockets, stopped for a brief chat about how much work this was and told me they had another guy following behind. By the time I reached the top, he had already passed me and was sitting on the cairn with Wullie. Turns out one of the leading 2 was Dan Duxbury, on a concentrated round of the Munros, think he was on 270 odd in 30 days or something, have since checked and he's on target for the second fastest completion, 44 days.

From the summit you still have a distance to cover, over the East Cliffs, then Sgurr nan Saighead before dropping and then rising again to Beinn Bhuidhe. Very poor visibility wasn't such a bad thing, we just kept moving around the path. Dropping down a broad grassy shoulder from Bhuidhe towards Fasach an t-Searraich, I could see over to the South and the road / buildings etc. The singular hill, Sgurr an t-Searraich rising above us some way down and clag hiding most of what was to the North and behind us.

This is where it just descended into carnage.

Dropping down to Allt a Chruinn, in full spate, we could see the path, shown on the WH route, ON THE OTHER SIDE. We opted to head down the south of the a' Chruinn but on realising it quickly became very steep sided and high above the torrent, we went back up a way to see if we could cross. The ford marked on the map was easily spotted, it was where the path disappeared into the raging burn. We contemplated trying a crossing, dipping a toe on to a rock, checking depth etc with our poles but this would have been suicide. I was totally soaked to the skin by now, so getting wet wasn't the issue, it was being swept away down one of the many drops, waterfalls etc or banging your head on a rock, far from ideal.

We went back to plan A, but quickly realised the ground low down towards the river was littered with peaks and troughs, meaning we would be descending, climbing, descending, climbing in these conditions. Reassessed and decided to head up to the slopes of Sgurr an t-Searraich, head round the hill and off down the other side.

The next few hours, covering hardly any distance consisted of crags, moving sideways, up, down, climbing back up steep slopes covered in waist deep heather and young trees, literally hauling ourselves out of sticky situations. We hadn't contacted John yet, phones etc staying put,,been either too windy to hear, too wet to take the phone out or we were in deep gullys.

We could see the loch in front, the road, houses etc and by now it was 8:40pm. We just kept skirting high, scrambled over a deer fence, stuck in more heathery gorges, up and round again then we were pretty close to the road but still it went on. Another deer fence, another crag etc. I wanted to keep south and high of the densely wooded area beside the burn as it could have been hiding a steep drop again so we kept to where the trees were more sparsely spread and we could see the ground.

By about 9:15, we crossed the last fence and covered a small field down to the buildings. My knee had 'twanged' a few times earlier in the day and these past 3 hrs had made it much worse. The last couple of hundred yards were bitter sweet,,pain in the knee,,but thank God,,we were down.

Made it in to the bus shelter so able to take the phone out to call John,,now 4 hrs later than planned. To say he was not a happy man, is putting it mildly.

On reflection, and checking the map properly later, with river conditions as they were, we would have been better heading over to the last of the Sisters, Sgurr na Moraich to the North as this would have brought us down on the North of the river and on the path, saving about 3 hrs of sheer hell.

Still, hindsight is a marvellous thing.

We did it, we got up and we got down, wont be going near the Bitches of Kintail again in a hurry! But 6 Munros in 1 day, under those conditions in 13.5hrs,,not such a bad result and as I write this, a week and a half later, the pain has gone, (almost! :shock: )

The stats on this are a guestimate. GPS didn't record it all, so used a similar report minus the time spent going up and down crag after crag :crazy: :( :crazy:

23  Looking back up the following day to the route down.JPG
Looking back up the following day to the route down

Thanks to Wullie for leading the way round and round the crags and thanks to John for not kicking us up the erse too hard, for worrying him.
Last edited by GillC on Thu May 29, 2014 2:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby mrssanta » Thu May 29, 2014 8:10 am

Ooft Gill that would have been a hard day even without the carnage at the end. Those sisters are tough!
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby Mountainlove » Thu May 29, 2014 12:23 pm

Oh what a day! Well done to you for tackling 6 in a day. Had to laugh so much about
Code: Select all
From here on, it's all a bit of a blur, events just happened. We climbed up and down the ridge, steep descents and rocky climbs, howling wind and driving rain. My hat annoyed me,,my hair annoyed me,,the wind and rain annoyed me,,,and I annoyed Wullie lol

Sounds rather familiar :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby Munchie » Thu May 29, 2014 1:04 pm

Ooooft seconded!
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby AnnieMacD » Thu May 29, 2014 2:26 pm

Gill, you are such a trooper! You have my full admiration :clap: :clap: That is one heck of a walk not to mention your travails at the end. I'm definitely doing these in at least two days.

Have you sorted out you boot/feet issues?
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby GillC » Thu May 29, 2014 2:30 pm

AnnieMacD wrote:Gill, you are such a trooper! You have my full admiration :clap: :clap: That is one heck of a walk not to mention your travails at the end. I'm definitely doing these in at least two days.

Have you sorted out you boot/feet issues?



Hi Annie, Feet are fine in my summer boots,,but on the tail end of the season, I got some size 6 mens Berghaus Kibos, smashing boots, great fit, no toe bang or rubbing. Bit of burn on the balls of my feet but think that may have been wearing coarser socks and also using them for walking hills with little or no snow. Defo be investing in thicker gel insoles but not dreading the winter walks now lol

(Thanks for asking :D )
Last edited by GillC on Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby SAVAGEALICE » Thu May 29, 2014 5:03 pm

crumbs! :shock:
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby Fife Flyer » Thu May 29, 2014 8:13 pm

Fantastic report Gill :clap: :clap: , only when you have suffered like that do you sympathise :lol:
Wind is bad enough :lol:
Wind & rain not good :lol:
Wind, rain & wet feet, much worse :lol:
Wind, rain, wet feet & navigation problems - I don't think there are words descriptive enough :lol:

I am beginning to wonder if the sun ever shines in Glen Shiel, two trips for me & nae sun yet :(
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby scottishkennyg » Thu May 29, 2014 9:27 pm

Hard session there Gill, glad all was well at the end...4 hours late and safe is fine :wink:
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby GillC » Thu May 29, 2014 9:31 pm

scottishkennyg wrote:Hard session there Gill, glad all was well at the end...4 hours late and safe is fine :wink:



Thanks SKG...so,,281 Munros,,,,, whats the last one?
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby Tomsie » Thu May 29, 2014 10:29 pm

I missed 2 cup finals waiting :-x

:wink:

Not nice getting stuck out there, could have being worse, good ye got down safe. :)
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby GillC » Thu May 29, 2014 10:31 pm

Tomsie wrote:I missed 2 cup finals waiting :-x

:wink:

Not nice getting stuck out there, could have being worse, good ye got down safe. :)


cup goes to you for being there :?
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby scottishkennyg » Fri May 30, 2014 9:37 am

GillC wrote:
scottishkennyg wrote:Hard session there Gill, glad all was well at the end...4 hours late and safe is fine :wink:



Thanks SKG...so,,281 Munros,,,,, whats the last one?


My fault forgot to update log, managed the last one last week. Sguur Mhich Choinnich.
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby GillC » Fri May 30, 2014 9:57 am

scottishkennyg wrote:
GillC wrote:
scottishkennyg wrote:Hard session there Gill, glad all was well at the end...4 hours late and safe is fine :wink:



Thanks SKG...so,,281 Munros,,,,, whats the last one?


My fault forgot to update log, managed the last one last week. Sguur Mhich Choinnich.



FORGOT! Jeezo man,,,,im itching to get mine updated,,and the last one too lol
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Re: Brothers and Sisters, a walk of two halves ;-/

Postby londonwalker » Fri May 30, 2014 12:29 pm

Hey Gill that must have be a tough day out - I can tell because you only used the word "smashing" once. :lol:

The idea is to get off the hill safely - which is what you did. Well done for making the right desicions you two.

Hope to see you in July. :wink:
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