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A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!


Postby AnnieMacD » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:39 pm

Route description: Beinn Eighe (western summits)

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

Date walked: 28/06/2014

Time taken: 11.33 hours

Distance: 18.5 km

Ascent: 1396m

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I planned to continue my Beinn Eighe ridge walk on Saturday if the weather forecast was favourable and when I saw less than 5% likelihood of precipitation and mixed sun/cloud I thought it would be the perfect day. My plan was to follow the WH route going round in the anti-clockwise direction which would continue from Spidean Coire nan Clach but leave Coinneach Mhor and Sail Mhor for another trip.

A lovely morning - Cuillin from Bealach na Ba on the way out.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Beinn Alligin in the morning sunshine. It took me ages to get to Torridon as I kept stopping to take photos!
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-2 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

As I was driving through Glen Shieldaig I met the coastguard and wondered if there had been an emergency for them to be out that early in the morning. When I got to Shieldaig I saw the huge banner "Celtman Extreme Triathlon". Oh, oh, I had no idea it was on this weekend, and guess the route - yep, Beinn Eighe. If you haven't heard of the Celtman it's a truly remarkable undertaking - 3.8km swim in Loch Shieldaig, 202km bike ride around Wester Ross and then a marathon (42km) from Achnashellach, through the Coulin Pass and the WH route over Beinn Eighe and on to Torridon. On arriving at the main car park the only evidence of something going on was a porta-loo (bliss)! I deposited a bag containing old running shoes and socks for my return walk, had a chat with three guys who were doing the route clockwise (we promised each other a lift to respective cars) and off I drove to the east car park. It was blocked off but there was yet another porta-loo (more bliss!). I was the first car there so got in by the boulders in the blocked-off quarry - which would make a superb car park.

The ascent up the good path to Coire an Laoigh was quick and uneventful but on entering the corrie I couldn't quite face the path to the bealach (I disliked it coming down a few weeks ago) so decided to either go up the shoulder of Stuc Coire an Laoigh or just head north-west on the steep mossy/stony slope heading for the summit. I chose the latter and it was a good choice as I emerged on the narrow ridge between Spidean Coire nan Clach and Sgurr Ban but very close to the summit of SCnC. I had already bagged it when it was very busy with many people coming and going but this early in the day (11ish) I had the place to myself. I spent some time on this airy perch and took lots of photographs of future routes (Ruadh-stac Beag, Slioch, etc etc). It was also nice to look back on the eastern ridge and remember all the scrambles from three weeks ago.

On the good path up to Coire an Laoigh. Looking across to Sgurr Dubh.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-3 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Above the path in Coire an Laoigh. The ascent was steep but not dangerous - only a little scrambling near the top.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-5 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

On gaining the ridge, there was Ruadh-stac Beag straight ahead with Slioch behind.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-6 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Stuc Coire an Laoigh and the path I avoided.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-7 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

I hit the ridge to the west (this side) of the minor crags at bottom right of picture. You just need to keep them to your right on the way up (they don't look so minor on the ascent! This is looking east to Sgurr Ban, Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe and Creag Dhubh.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-8 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Fern/heather pattern on a stone.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-9 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Ruadh-stac Mor from the summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-10 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Coire Ruadh-staca and Loch Maree beyond.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-11 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

By the time I got down to the trig point I could see a few people coming up the path far below.

Heading down from the trig point I saw one solitary walker standing on the top of Stuc Coire an Laoighe. The showers were getting closer.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-14 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

It's a fabulous ridge walk along to the lower top of Coinneach Mhor and at one of the minor tops along the way I stopped for lunch. At this point the rain which had been threatening all morning started to make itself felt. Just a few drops but the sky started to get much darker. The annoying thing was looking back west you could see the sun shining on the sea but that didn't seem to be coming our way. By this time a lot of people started to appear. The first couple were a BBC film crew who were heading for the summit of Ruadh-stac Mor to wait for the runners. Then some MRT guys who were to be positioned (I was later to find out) at strategic places all over the hill. Then there were support people and photographers - the whole road show turned out. So much for a quiet day on the hills :lol: :lol:

Lunch-time view - the east end and ridge of Liathach. Maol Chean-dearg and Beinn Damh on the left with little Seana Mheallan in between.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-16 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Heading round the ridge you get a better view of Ruadh-stac Beag with Meall a' Ghiubhais to the left and Slioch behind.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-17 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Back along the ridge to the trig point and Spidean Coire nan Clach. There were lots of people about now most of whom were carrying huge amounts of gear!
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-19 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

My first sight of Coire Mhic Fhearchair. Wow!
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-21 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

By the time I got to the top of the scree run from Coire Mhic Fearachair the three lads I had met in the morning popped up, "What kept you?" I asked but I don't think they appreciated my sense of humour! By this time the rain was coming down but fortunately the visibility didn't change much as the clouds stayed above the tops. I just got to the summit of Ruadh-stac Mor when I heard the swirl of the pipes coming over the corrie - goose bumps all round. That is quite an experience - at least for a Scotsperson. I had to go off on my own for a bit to recover as the summit was getting crowded and I was the only Scot left. So I wandered to the end of RSM to peer into the wilderness to the north and west. I also took a wander down the west rim of the hill and saw a few scree runs starting down which looked quite doable. However, I'm glad I didn't attempt any of them as I had a good look when I got down and they looked awful - hundreds of metres of uninterrupted scree.

The wilderness - Beinn Dearg, Beinn Alligin (behind) Baosbheinn, Beinn na Eoin and Beinn a' Chearcaill from the northern tip of Ruadh-stac Mor.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-22 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Moody Sail Mhor in the rain but the sunshine wasn't far away.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-23 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Back at the summit just two BBC people and one Celtman staff member left - it was to be a long day for them.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-24 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Went back to the summit and it was even more crowded than before as a group of guys (maybe 10 - 12) were having a 'guys weekend' up in Torridon and here they were en masse. Left the BBC people behind as everyone seemed to be assembling at the col to welcome the first runner. I'm sure he must have been surprised as there were so many people up there - he got lots of encouragement and cheering. Each runner has to have a 'minder' who looks after them and carries their stuff. The minders don't do the swim or cycle and are fresh at the start of the run. (It's still a huge undertaking IMO.) Sometimes it wasn't easy to tell who was racing and who was supporting as the bib numbers were hidden. We all congregated again to watch the leader going down the scree after returning from the summit. Wow, they were down in about 5 minutes maximum scree running all the way. While waiting for them I had a good chat with the MRT people picking their brains about routes, possibilities etc. However, when it was my turn to go down the scree (no runners coming for some time) it was more scary as all these people were watching me - I felt as if I was taking a test :lol: Thankfully (for my pride) I didn't slip :wink:

First runner through - Johan Hasselmark - who turned out to be the eventual winner. This is just above the bealach on Ruadh-stac Mor.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-27 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

The start of the scree path down - as you've never seen it before!
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-28 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

To the descent. I've read this many times and the MRT people said it - keep to the right (left on the way up). There are well defined and well used 'steps' which make it more a scrambling exercise. There was a photographer about half way down and he would shout when a runner was coming so I would then have to get out of the way and cling on to the rock until they were past! There is a bit of unavoidable scree at the bottom but the slope has eased off by then so it's not so bad. I think I can safely say I preferred going down this way that the Coire nan Laoigh path - but it may not be for everyone.

Still quite near the top but you can see the left side is rocky. A runner is just starting down.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-29 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

I kept to the path on the left of the photo but the runners came straight down the middle as I think they gained a lot of time here. On the very left side you can see the path comes down some scree to reach the rocks but it's not too bad at this point. (I've put some more pictures up on Flickr if you want to get more of a feel for it.)
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-31 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

It's really only when you get down into the corrie that you can appreciate the awesomeness of Coire Mhic Fhearchair. I kept losing the path among the boulders and rocks heading towards the loch, but it really doesn't matter as there is only one way out. I also wanted to get out of the way of the runners who were now coming at a more regular rate.

The Triple Buttresses. There appears to be a fairly easy way up to the top of Sail Mhor over to the right. I'll definitely be back to complete the ridge traverse.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-33 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

ImageBeinn Eighe - West-34 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

ImageBeinn Eighe - West-35 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

I had my second lunch at the waterfalls as I knew it was a long way out. The rain had now stopped but the sky did not clear. I made fairly slow process as I constantly had to be looking behind to see if any runners were coming. Everyone who passed got a clap and encouragement from the one-woman cheer-leading team. I got really excited when the first woman came along - turns out she was 24th overall - fantastic.

Busy Beinn Eighe.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-36 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Marie Meldrum (women's winner and 24th overall) with Liathach as a backdrop.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-39 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

There was a whole group of support and MRT people stationed at the back of Liathach. They were really raucous and I'm sure raised the spirits of the weary athletes. They told me that there was a time limit for the bike ride to qualify for the mountain marathon. The people who didn't qualify had a lower-level route round the back of Liathach to Alligin and then back on the road to Torridon . They still completed marathon distance without as much ascent. So now there were runners coming at me from both directions! In some ways I had more empathy with them as many were pretty tired but equally determined.

Beinn Dearg with 'The Enemy' very prominent.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-41 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Sgurr Dubh from the path.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-42 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Cheerful but tired. I had so much admiration for them. They still had 10 miles to go ....
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-43 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

At long last the sun showed its face and what a beautiful sight for the people running down the road to Torridon. Just as I entered the car park to get my sneakers, I noticed the Medical vehicle was manned by a retired doctor from Applecross so went over for a chat. His assistant kindly volunteered to drive me back to my car - thanks Gerry and Sheila!

The Ling Hut and the Ceud Cnoc (hundred hills) show prominently in the evening light.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-44 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Sgurr Dubh and Loch Bharranch.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-45 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Courthill from Bealach na Ba on the way home.
ImageBeinn Eighe - West-49 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

What an amazing day! Moral of the story is - if you can't beat them, join them. At least in spirit.

Part III of my Beinn Eighe odyssey to be announced :lol:
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby Fife Flyer » Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:08 pm

Nice one Annie, your photo's are superb :clap: :clap:

I take it you will be starting your training for next years Celtman :lol:
These sort of events are becoming more & more common, human beings are forever wanting to push themselves harder & further, I should know my son is into Ultra Marathons :roll:
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby 2manyYorkies » Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:48 pm

Lovely lingering shots on Beinn Eighe there, very atmospheric. That same day I was over on the Fisherfield five and was conscious of Beinn Eighe peeking out behind Slioch from time to time, but I only saw 6 people on my hills that whole day - a bit of a contrast with your experience!
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby Collaciotach » Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:43 pm

Go on get training for next year :D
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby GillC » Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:04 am

Awww Fabulous, Amazing colour and light on those photographs and a busy one indeed. Got this and Aligin on my radar,,be nice to get them this year. :D
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:57 pm

Annie, you just made my day :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

I think I saw last year's Celtman event on Adventure Show... Stuff for tough people. I jog almost every day but that's far beyond me :shock:
A short clip about 2013 triathlon is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01jf4xp (I couldn't find the full version, but I remember the run up BE was in horrible weather last year). Now, when is the next Adventure Show? :D

The rocky outcrop from your photo 17 is my favourite posing "plinth"... My dad almost had a heart attack when he saw a picture of me with huge drops below :lol:

We prefer the clockwise route up Corrie MF, maybe because the stone chute is easier in ascent. Even in winter conditions, we managed without crampons. I also wondered about the scrambling route up Sail Mhor... I think there is a trip report on WH describing that way.
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby RyanfaeScotland » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:54 pm

Cracking report and brilliant pictures.
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby AnnieMacD » Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:18 pm

Thanks everyone - it truly was a memorable day.

BlackPanther wrote:Annie, you just made my day :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

I think I saw last year's Celtman event on Adventure Show... Stuff for tough people. I jog almost every day but that's far beyond me :shock:
A short clip about 2013 triathlon is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01jf4xp (I couldn't find the full version, but I remember the run up BE was in horrible weather last year). Now, when is the next Adventure Show? :D

The rocky outcrop from your photo 17 is my favourite posing "plinth"... My dad almost had a heart attack when he saw a picture of me with huge drops below :lol:

We prefer the clockwise route up Corrie MF, maybe because the stone chute is easier in ascent. Even in winter conditions, we managed without crampons. I also wondered about the scrambling route up Sail Mhor... I think there is a trip report on WH describing that way.


Yes, it's supposed to be on the Adventure Show this year too - that's the programme the BBC people were from. Last year only about ten people did the Mountain Route before the Torridon MR people called a halt and said it was too dangerous because of the conditions. All the others did the lower route - but that's pretty tough too.

The plinth looks much scarier than it is - it's a great viewpoint.

Next time I'll go clockwise as well. I don't think there is much scrambling up to Sail Mhor but there is a Bad Step (Ceum Grannda or Ugly Step literally) between Sail Mhor and Coinneach Mhor. You can try it out and then let me know :lol: .

It's a great hill, BP, I can see why you are so taken with it. Waiting for your Ruadh-stac Beag report.... The forecast for this weekend is awful otherwise I might have gone for it.
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby NevJB » Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:59 pm

Beautiful pictures and good report Annie - I'm envious. BE looked more like Snowdon - I would have wanted to have avoided that.
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby Johnny Corbett » Wed Jul 02, 2014 4:33 pm

Stunning. This is why i'm saving Ruadh stac mor for last and hopefully i'll get it to myself when i walk it :shock: . Doing it in July though so probably not. :crazy:
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby Beaner001 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 4:56 pm

These have to be some of the best sets of photo's i've seen on a WR. Very jealous, well Done Annie :clap: :clap:
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby rockhopper » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:25 pm

crowded up there right enough, Annie - great set of photos even with the rain ! - cheers :)
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby gordon l » Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:59 pm

Great report on what is possibly my favourite mountain. Your pics really capture the beauty of it. Nice one :D
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:13 pm

Great report, and wonderful pix. I really enjoyed this.

Echoing NevJB's comment, I'm jealous of the pix. You always seem to do brilliant pictures - mine are never remotely as good, even when I'm out in the same place and on the same day as you! :( (ref your pix from Deep in the Heart of Torridon, 4th May!!). Seriously: do you have a high quality camera, as the quality of the pix suggests; or is it something more basic? (mine's a Canon Powershot A810) - about as basic as it gets!

Incidentally, when I did the ridge on 4th May, I bumped into a guy reccying the route for the Celtman - as you say, it's pretty hardcore stuff - amazing what these young things can do! Although this guy was VERY slow down the scree, it being his first time running in this kind of environment.
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Re: A Quiet Saturday on Beinn Eighe - NOT!

Postby dogplodder » Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:24 pm

All your photos are good and Beinn Eighe is a stunning mountain but the one I like the best is the one you took on the way home! :lol:
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