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When the Black turned Red; In the footsteps of Ghurkhas

When the Black turned Red; In the footsteps of Ghurkhas

Postby PeteR » Thu Oct 02, 2014 9:57 pm

Route description: Glamaig and the northern Red Hills

Corbetts included on this walk: Glamaig

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Dearg Mhór (Sligachan)

Date walked: 29/09/2014

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The plan was a last minute-ish (booked in August) week on Skye, picking off the Black Cuillin Munros. In the weeks leading up to “my turn” we’d been experiencing a fine period of settled weather, so there was much anticipation building up inside me. What could possibly go wrong....... :?: :?: :?:

.......Cue end of fine period of settled weather :lol:

I’d actually had a bad feeling about the week in the days before, as I watched forecast wind speeds increase for my days on Skye. Thankfully I’d booked no accommodation, as the 11 of the ridge will have to wait a little while yet. Meeting up with our guide – Paddy McGuire – the option was given of one, possibly two days on the ridge and then probably nothing else for the rest of the week, or scrap the week and rebook next spring.

Standing there at the Sligachan mountain rescue building it seemed odd to unanimously agree to scrub the week when the weather that day in particular looked so good – all blue sky and sunshine. But heads (and wallets) ruled hearts and we agreed to postpone the Black for another time :wink:
ImageP1110349 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110356 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110357 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

I’ve got to say I was gutted at that moment, even though in true Del Boy fashion I knew it made sense :lol: Despite a natural caution giving a feeling of nervousness at walking amongst the Cuillin I was also excited at the prospect of finally getting in amongst them. To be literally blown out before getting my boots on was quite deflating (no pun intended).

So what’s a boy to do when he’s driven overnight for over 200 miles and his weeks walking plans go A over T at the first :?: :?:

Glamaig and some Red Hills, that’s what :D :D

ImageP1110359 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

Thankfully I’d a few routes downloaded in to the GPS and this was one of them. I was taking a slightly different approach than that suggested by WH. My route would see me park up at the parking area at the entrance to the bunkhouse and walk a short way along the main road to a faint track leading through a gate and then pretty much straight on toward the cone shaped, scree covered hill that is Glamaig.

I was very much in the Slough of Despond as sloshed along the boggy path toward the foot of my days substitute target :( I wasn’t filled with glee as I arrived to commence the steep climb to the top either :( The views behind me of the Cuillin also weren’t helping either for some reason :lol: :lol:

ImageP1110363 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110370 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

Glamaig though isn’t a hill to be taken lightly, even if it is in the shadow of mightier neighbours. What immediately followed is hard to describe............but I’ll have a go anyway :thumbup: :lol:

ImageP1110376 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

Although admitting that this route is steep my Corbett guidebook blithely suggests “It is possible to do a surprisingly large proportion of the ascent on grass rather than scree.....”. You might think therefore that, while steep, the climb up Glamaig from this approach would be made easier on the grass.

My backside........... :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

This little Corbett has to be one of the steepest, most unrelenting climbs I have ever done :shock: :roll: There just seemed to be nowhere for any sort of respite at all :( It just went up near vertically practically all the way to the top. Leg burning and lung busting it is.

In its lower reaches (according to the contours on the map being only moderately vertical compared to what was still to come) the grass was wet and slippery and there was a bit of scrambling on all fours at times to pick my way up through the grass and the also wet rocks and scree I encountered

And then about a third of the way up the scree kicked in :lol: :lol:

ImageP1110393 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

[Insert expletives of your own choice] that was hard work. Let’s just say that in places the scree was somewhat “fluid” :crazy: All joking apart this is a steep, steep ascent. Definitely not one for the fainthearted that’s for sure :shock: There were genuinely two or three moments on that scree when I was clinging on a bit more than I would have liked. As I stepped forward? upward? the ground beneath me would slip away and my forward motion would result in a downward slide :shock:

At times on this scree section there were traces of path at various points, but they never seemed to last that long and I was resorting to projecting myself onwards and upwards as best I could. And to be fair, some of the sections of path looked worse in terms of steepness and fluidity than what I was on, so I was happier to keep off them :lol:

I cannot believe that a Ghurkha ran up this slope..............and barefoot too...................and then did it again.................. :wtf: :wtf: Loonball :lol: :lol:

Clearly I am no Ghurkha :lol:

Slow progress was made by me. At times very slow progress was made by me................but it was progress all the same. Eventually, just short of the top, a short spur like feature appeared ahead of me. It doesn’t show as a feature on the map, but it provided the first real chance of respite on the way up. So it was most welcome in my eyes. Almost a grassy ridge running left to right before the final climb up less steep scree to the grassy summit.

And with it came a path. And I mean a proper path :D Not the rubbish I’d partly endured on the scree climb. And this path was also easier on the final climb through the scree as well.

ImageP1110403 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

It was at this point that the day, and the route, suddenly came into its own. Don’t get me wrong, I was to discover the route still included a couple more sections of steep. But now the views out to Raasay and across to Applecross and the rest of the Scottish mainland really started to open up :D :D Glamaig and the Red Hills really is a superb viewpoint :D

ImageP1110405 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

Collapsing on the summit and it was just “Wow” all round 8) 8) Even with cloud on the Black Cuillin it was 360 degrees of “Wow” 8) 8)

ImageP1110407 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110411 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110418 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110421 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110430 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

I spent a while on the summit, just enjoying the moment. It was still hard to believe the Cuillin had been cancelled on such a glorious day, but by now my initial disappointment was replaced with sheer enjoyment at such a great hill, and what I was to discover as the day wore on, such a great route :D :D

Sitting at the summit eyeing up my next target I foolishly thought it didn’t look that bad. Even as I made way down off Glamaig toward the Bealach na Sgairde I didn’t appreciate what was awaiting me. I was looking ahead a thinking I had a pretty short, but perhaps steep drop, followed by an amble along a broad ridge before a short climb up on to the ridge of the Graham Beinn Dearg Mhor.

ImageP1110435 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

My backside........... :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: as I was soon to discover.

The drop off Glamaig is again steep, steep fair. May be not as steep as my route up, but still steep all the same. And it was on more of that fluid scree :lol: Even the path, which was more pronounced than on the route up, was a fluid affair. It actually made for easy progress going down, but I’m not sure I would much fancy that as the route up on to Glamaig, as the WH route suggests. The lesser of two evils perhaps.

ImageP1110441 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110450 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

It was on this descent that I was privileged to watch three Eagles floating upwards on the thermals. A magical experience, to watch them launch off into the air and then glide upwards in a circular flight :D They even got quite close to me at one point :D My attempts to capture them in a photo were a bit pants, but for about 5 minutes I just stood there, mid descent, and watched, mesmerised by their display :D

ImageP1110457 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

Eventually though I had to focus on what lay ahead.......gulp :shock:

More steep climbing amongst the scree by the looks of it :lol:

ImageP1110466 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

As it turned out, what looked hellish from a distance looked less bad once foreshortened from directly below. The scree path it contained wasn’t too bad either, giving a far more straightforward climb than I had imagined when viewing the climb on my descent off Glamaig.

ImageP1110473 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

Looking back at Glamaig it was hard to believe that I had just come down that :shock:

ImageP1110477 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110482 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

More great views as I followed a cliff edge route up on to the Graham summit. Great views also as I headed off and toward my third target of the day – Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach.

ImageP1110498 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110501 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110506 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110518 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110527 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110535 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110536 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110539 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110542 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110543 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110551 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110553 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

Although this is nothing more than a minor summit in some ways I thought Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach provided some of the best views of the day :D :D Superb views back toward the days earlier targets, along with views toward Marsco, Blabheinn, Garbh-bheinn and Belig as well as toward the mainland :D

This was another spot to just sit rest and take in the great views 8)

ImageP1110568 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110578 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110585 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110588 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110589 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110590 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110594 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110595 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110598 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110611 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

From Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach it’s a short walk back to the large cairn on the ridge and the walk back to Sligachan via the Druim na Ruaige and Cairn Sron a Bhealain. Not a bad little route back, if a little boggy in places, and particularly toward the end, once back on the open moorland. Near the end of the walk the path runs alongside the Allt Daraich and provides some nice waterfalls to end the day :D

ImageP1110621 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110626 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110637 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110649 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1110673 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

Although the Black Cuillin will have to wait Glamaig sure did provide a great tonic for the “blown-out-by-the-Cuillin” blues :D 8) My time on Skye might have been over in only a day as I started off on the long drive home, but at least I was leaving with a big grin on my face :D :D :D :D :D :D
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Re: When the Black turned Red; In the footsteps of Ghurkhas

Postby rockhopper » Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:05 pm

Pity about that, Pete, but this looked a great alternative and must have proved some compensation. Hope you get much better weather when you do go back - and you'll have a great time with Paddy no doubt - cheers :)
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Re: When the Black turned Red; In the footsteps of Ghurkhas

Postby dogplodder » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:28 am

Good title. I can usually work out which hills it's about but this time I didn't - even though the clues are there! Good photos too. :D
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Re: When the Black turned Red; In the footsteps of Ghurkhas

Postby Mountainlove » Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:19 am

Really enjoyed your story! That scree ...gulp! Good on you and as for the Ghurka running up it...don't know how they can do that, but having watched children of the mountain regions in Nepal running to school (up and down slopes) were I had to cling to my walking poles! I guess it is in their blood.
Lovely pictures as well and I am sure when you return you will have a fantastic day for the ridge :D
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Re: When the Black turned Red; In the footsteps of Ghurkhas

Postby SAVAGEALICE » Fri Oct 03, 2014 4:20 pm

wow ..great pics! :clap: :D
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Re: When the Black turned Red; In the footsteps of Ghurkhas

Postby Jock McJock » Fri Oct 03, 2014 7:00 pm

Some cracking pics there Peter. Those "wee" hills look stunning :)
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Re: When the Black turned Red; In the footsteps of Ghurkhas

Postby Fife Flyer » Fri Oct 03, 2014 7:45 pm

Great report Pete, love your descriptive humour :clap: Man after my own heart :wink:
Some cracking photo's Pete, shame the weather wasn't going to continue for your wee visit :(
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Re: When the Black turned Red; In the footsteps of Ghurkhas

Postby Silverhill » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:50 pm

I can imagine that was disappointing initially, but for us it yielded another entertaining report, and for you a great day with a taste of Skye. Stunning pictures! :D
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Re: When the Black turned Red; In the footsteps of Ghurkhas

Postby jupe1407 » Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:32 pm

That's a brilliant account of what looks like a great walk.

Superb pictures mate :clap:
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Re: When the Black turned Red; In the footsteps of Ghurkhas

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:42 pm

It really doesn't matter which hill on Skye you're on a day like that. It will be one of the best days you've ever had :D Thanks for sharing.
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Re: When the Black turned Red; In the footsteps of Ghurkhas

Postby dooterbang » Mon Oct 06, 2014 3:02 pm

Great report with some truly stunning views.

Well worth all that effort, no wonder you had a smile on your face at the end.

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