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Winter wanders vol 1: View to a ridge

Winter wanders vol 1: View to a ridge


Postby BlackPanther » Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:48 pm

Route description: Biod an Fhithich, south Glenshiel

Fionas included on this walk: Biod an Fhithich

Date walked: 26/12/2014

Time taken: 3.5 hours

Distance: 6.8 km

Ascent: 606m

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To begin with, sincere apologies for being late with my TR's, I had a busy Christmas-New Year time. We managed four mountains, each peak in a separate trip, so at the moment it's four stories to write... I'll do my best.

Just before Christmas I baked a large portion of mince pies. Of course, home-made ones are much tastier than those bought from shops and somehow I convinced myself that they contain less calories :lol: :lol: The result was, I ate far too many of the bloody things. Generally, I do not have a sweet tooth, but it was THAT time of the year... Come on...
So after Christmas Day dinner I felt so heavy, that there was only one way to cheer me up - sweat off the calories on a steep hill slope! Call it Boxing Day's Big Belly Challenge :lol: :lol:
Weather forecast wasn't perfect, but with low winds we saw a chance to pop up a lower hill - a Graham, perhaps? Preferably one with good views to neighbouring, higher peaks... And then I remembered Biod an Fhithich.
This hill we kept on our to-do list as a winter walk, simply because it's a short, easy climb up a good stalkers path - perfect for snow conditions. Well, snow was down to about 450m which was good enough for us :D
Most folks climb Biod an Fhithich as a quick addition to The Saddle - Sgurr na Sgine traverse, as it only adds about 150m of ascent to the day. We would have done the same for sure, had we realised this was a Graham! :lol: :lol: I considered it just a top and not worth the hassle... Now we had a good excuse to come back and get this hill under the belt in winter conditions. I kept my fingers crossed for some interesting views - and I wasn't disappointed.


Track_BIOD AN FHITHICH 26-12-15.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


The morning was cold and frrrosty, not all surfaces were gritted and we took time to drive the distance to Glen Shiel. It felt odd... Roads were empty. Guess who is mad enough to have an early morning start on Boxing Day :roll:
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The cloud was just above the mountain tops when we drove through Glen Shiel, but even though the conditions looked gray and sad somehow, I held my hopes high for a nice jaunt up the ridge:
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We parked at the usual layby, across the road from the start of the stalkers path. There was nobody else here, and apart from one van we spotted on the car park near Cluanie Inn, we didn't see any other signs of fellow hillwalkers... Most likely, we were the only people climbing the in western part of Glen Shiel area :shock: Weird... How often would you have THESE hills only to yourself?
The empty road...
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We quickly got ready and set off. We left ice axes in the car but packed up crampons just in case. The previous night temperature must have fallen well below zero, 'cause there was plenty of ice on the path even at the glen level. Our hill was looming high above us, seemed to have less snow than we had expected, but I still hoped for my first white walk this winter!
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Looking east from the path, along the quiet glen:
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"Our" Graham :D
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Not much to say about the climb on the path, apart from the fact that it was slippery in places and we had to avoid patches of ice by walking on the vegetation alongside the path. But I didn't complain, this walk was exactly what I needed. With every step I felt the mince pies burning and the sweating exercise was welcome!
We knew the cloud was unlikely to lift and not much chance for a clear-blue-sky day, but I wondered about how much Forcan Ridge would we see... As we climbed towards the col between Biod an Fhithich and Meallan Odhar, we entered the white-ish, frozen world:
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Heyyy Forcan Ridge, where are you? :lol:
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We reached the bealach and stopped for five minutes to record the views. I've been here before but never in winter conditions. Biod an Fhithich looked close now, just a quick nip up the slope:
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Sgurr Mhic Bharraigh, a Corbett I climbed one year for my birthday. A hill with views to kill for, but it doesn't look very impressive itself:
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I was somehow disappointed when looking towards The Saddle - most of the ridge was in cloud, at least at the moment...
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...but the clag was definitely lifting from the Sisters and even the sun made its entrance for a short while, shining through a gap in the cloud. There was still hope!
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We began the final climb, after all we were here to bag a Graham, not just to gaze at Forcan Ridge :lol:
A sketchy path turns right and up the slopes of the Graham. We encountered a few patches of ice, but soon we entered the area of deeper snow and we lost the path altogether - which was OK by me, I enjoyed sinking in soft snow for a change :D Not much to sink in most of the way, but I was happy anyway:
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Higher up the ridge steepens. In summertime one could practice some mild scrambling here, but we avoided the rocky areas just in case. It might have been steep, but I loved the view back to Sgurr na Sgine - or Faochag ridge to be precise:
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The last 20m of ascent on the grassy slope would require crampons if it wasn't for a thicker layer of snow, allowing us to kick in generous steps. Then we were standing by the small summit cairn. Yuppie! My 25th Graham climbed!
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Actually it was the second time this year I claimed my 25th Graham. The previous one I did was Ben Aslak, but then it was demoted to Sub2k and my count dropped back to 24. All right, all right, 25 is not a big number to celebrate, but nice to do it twice :lol:
Kevin grabbed his camera as the cloud was lifting from the Saddle - it never cleared fully, but we could now see more of the infamous Forcan Ridge - and it was brighter, too:
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Kevin's photo:
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Zoom to the summit of The Saddle:
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The Bad Steep on the ridge:
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It was my first opportunity to try my new pocket camera, Fuji FinePix AX650. I didn't expect to get better quality photos than Kevin, it was bought as a backup or to take on shorter walks if we couldn't be bothered to carry the heavy Finepix HS10. it seems the new purchase takes snaps decent enough to use in TR's (or to print and put in photo album), but it has one big disadvantage - in low temperatures, it dries batteries like crazy.
A couple of zooms onto the snow covered slopes of the Saddle - just to illustrate the abilities of the new camera :D :
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Kevin posing with Forcan Ridge behind:
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Back to Kevin's pictures now. Apart from Forcan Ridge, there is more to see from this Graham - a good viewpoint indeed, even on a gray day. To the west, an interesting rocky ridge, A' Mhuing, which can be used as an alternative descent route. Looks tasty, but we didn't have enough time to do it today:
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To the east, South Glen Shiel Ridge still holding on to some cloud:
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Zoom to Faochag:
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Zooms to the Sisters to the north:
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Sgurr an Airgid:
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View south-east from the summit:
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The summit area is very small, so we looked for a better place nearby to take off rucksack, have a snack and a hot cuppa and savour the views. It was cold but next to no breeze, so I didn't shy from posing :lol:
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We were very lucky - we managed to reach the summit just as the cloud lifted for a short period of time. Now it was descending again onto Forcan Ridge:
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We descended the way we came up, taking great care on the icy stalkers path. It wasn't a long day on the hills but it brought us the feeling of calories well burned :lol: I'd highly recommend this short outing as a winter walk, not much effort with the path most of the way and fantastic views on a clear day.

I wanted to finish 2014 on a high and two days later we set off to complete another winter wander, this time a Corbett. It raised my number of Corbetts climbed in 2014 to 20, the most I ever did in a single year. TR to come soon.
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BlackPanther
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Re: Winter wanders vol 1: View to a ridge

Postby The Rodmiester » Wed Jan 07, 2015 3:19 pm

Got this wee fella sorted for the next time I'm heading over to Skye, pick it up en route! :) I guess on a clearer day the views would be fabulous. Surprised to see NO others on the hills, nice hill to end off the year, and to get some of the mince pies worn off :lol:
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The Rodmiester
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