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A first and a couple of seconds in Kintail

A first and a couple of seconds in Kintail

Postby Fife Flyer » Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:26 pm

Route description: Sgurr nan Conbhairean, Carn Ghluasaid and Sail Chaorainn

Munros included on this walk: Carn Ghluasaid, Sail Chaorainn, Sgurr nan Conbhairean

Date walked: 25/03/2015

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 17 km

Ascent: 1325m

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Another day out in the hills utilising what looked like a weather window, as usual I can rearrange my busy schedule and Tommy was also available as being a shift worker he gets days off during the week :wink:
Having worked out the day, next where to head, I want to increase my Munro tally so that was decided, so I studied my Munro map and as the weather looked better in the west so Kintail was hand picked Sgurr nan Conbhairean,
Sail Chaorainn and Carn Ghluasaid were to be the targets 8)
The plan was to meet at the car park on the banks of Loch Cluanie at 8am as the early part of the day was forecast to better than the latter 8) A quick check on AA routeplanner advised me that it would take 3 hours to get to the start point - end result another early rise, which doesn't please Mrs F as she wakes up when a pin falls onto the carpet :lol: :lol:
Alarm clock was set for 0405 and as usual I was awake before it was even thinking off going off :(
I had decided to drive north at a nice leisurely 60mph to conserve fuel and of course save the planet, mainly because my new car has a tiny fuel tank of 45lit and that would enable me to drive a wee bit quicker on the way home 8)
I arrived at the car park at 0740 and Tommy was already in the process of getting ready, having spent a comfortable night in his well kitted out van :wink:

ImageDSCF0059 by martin_beswick, on Flickr
Great setting for the start, just a shame that there was so much litter :(

ImageDSCF0060 by martin_beswick, on Flickr Looking across Loch Cluanie

The initial part of the walk follows a quite good stalkers path uphill, not too steep, but like a few hills the going up starts almost as soon as you get out of the car :lol:

ImageDSCF0067 by martin_beswick, on Flickr Good path uphill

It wasn't long before we were both puffing and panting and therefore had to stop to take a few photo's, as we got higher the views were tremendous. The South Glen Shiel Ridge looked awesome and as we were ambling upwards we were discussing our exploits and experiences of that specific ridge :lol:

ImageDSCF0076 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Looking across to the ridge

ImageDSCF0084 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Western end of Loch Cluanie

ImageDSCF0085 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Tommy taking in the views :wink:

It wasn't too long before we were on the summit of Carn Ghluasaid, we had encountered a few snow patches higher up but compared to what we were about to encounter, it was negligible :lol:

ImageDSCF0091 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Summit cairn (not the biggest you will see) on Carn Ghluasaid, with the next target sticking up in the background :lol:

As we are all no doubt aware, one of the problems with getting up in the middle of the night and having breakfast before you leave, that brings all the other meal times or hunger pangs much earlier than usual :lol: So I had to have a quick nibble before we continued on our mission.
We knew the next part of the walk was going to be the toughest as the pointy summit of Sgurr nan Conbhairean loomed large in the distance, it was also obvious that there was a good covering of snow on the summit and on the lower slopes 8)

ImageDSCF0093 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Plenty of cornices with Sgurr nan Conbhairean poking it's head up :lol:

ImageDSCF0097 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Looking back

ImageDSCF0100 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Weather starting to get worse :(

Whilst walking across the very wide ridge, the cloud base seemed to drop to about 3000' and we were kind of fearing the worst, however that was to be just a minor glitch :lol:
As we started the ascent of Sgurr nan Conbhairean the snow was firming up and whilst I was looking across to a small cairn to mark the way, I fell flat on my face :shock: :shock: , the very thin layer of powdery snow was hiding ice underneath. I have a few bruises and sore bits today, but it really does highlight how you need to concentrate all the time and watch every single footstep :wink:
It was shortly after that wee incident, that we decided to don the crampons - this was a first for me, I have had mine for a couple of years but have never actually had cause to even work out how tie up etc :lol: I did watch a youtube video but that was a few weeks ago, so I had a rough idea of how to tie them up. Tommy being an "expert" supervised the operation :lol:
The rest of the ascent would have been impossible without crampons, as there were large ice fields to cross all on a slight incline.

ImageDSCF0105 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Looking the part now :lol: :lol:

ImageDSCF0106 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - The dreaded ice

ImageDSCF0107 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - More ice

ImageDSCF0108 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - The casual pose

We were making really good time, even with all the faffing around with the crampons, I have to confess my right crampon came apart just before we reached the summit, but after a good talking to and a minor adjustment (by Tommy) we were off again :lol:

The views from Sgurr nan Conbhairean were outstanding in all directions, especially as it the highest hill for miles around.

ImageDSCF0109 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - the next and final destination, note the snow on the descent :wink:

ImageDSCF0111 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - the view to the NW

ImageDSCF0115 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Overhanging cornices

ImageDSCF0122 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Looking back to the 2nd summit

ImageDSCF0124 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - view to the east, not much snow, Cairngorms in the distance looking white

The descent off Sgurr nan Conbhairean was challenging, as the underfoot conditions were pretty much the same as the other side, so concentration and care was the order of the day :wink: There was very little ascent to our final destination and once again the views were amazing 8) As we approached the 3rd summit the underfoot conditions were much better so it was off with the crampons.

ImageDSCF0129 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Avalanche damage

ImageDSCF0136 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Avalance zoomed

ImageDSCF0132 by martin_beswick, on Flickr

ImageDSCF0133 by martin_beswick, on Flickr

ImageDSCF0134 by martin_beswick, on Flickr

ImageDSCF0138 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - 3rd and final summit Sail Chaorainn, must have been a bit warmer notice no gloves :lol:

ImageDSCF0140 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Looking back and up to the 2nd summit

ImageDSCF0142 by martin_beswick, on Flickr

The descent off Sail Chaorainn was easy however once we started climbing back up towards Sgurr nan Conbhairean before heading SW. It was whilst descending the underfoot conditions became dodgy, I slipped on yet more hidden ice, this time onto my backside and as it is well padded no damage done, so it was back on with the crampons. I was saying to Tommy whilst we were donning the crampons, that I have only ever fallen once before and that was umpteen years ago on Conival :roll:
Cramponned up we traversed the western flank of Sgurr nan Conbhairean, which was indicated by a small cairn. A couple of times the traverse was across fairly steep sloping ground which would have been impossible without the winter tackle.

ImageDSCF0144 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - The traverse of the western flank, the white stuff twinkling in the sun

ImageDSCF0146 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - The descent down to Drochaid an Tuill Easaich

ImageDSCF0150 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Another shot of the same descent with a nicer background :lol:

ImageDSCF0155 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - the only other living thing we saw all day :roll:

ImageDSCF0160 by martin_beswick, on Flickr

ImageDSCF0169 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Loch Cluanie again

ImageDSCF0170 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Do views get any better than that?

Once we managed to skirt round Drochaid an Tuill Easaich the descent down the next ridge was straight forward, what snow there was was soft so it was back to normal on the footwear front 8)
The descent seemed to last forever and both of us happened to mention it a few times, the knees were taking a bit of a pounding. We seemed to lose the path, but as we could see exactly where we were going, no problem. It was just a matter of picking our way down trying to avoid steep rocky bits :lol:

ImageDSCF0183 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Tommy opted to slide down the slab

ImageDSCF0184 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - well almost :lol:

ImageDSCF0186 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Descent gradient angle

ImageDSCF0189 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Obligatory water feature, Allt Coire nan Clach

ImageDSCF0191 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - A final shot looking down Loch Cluanie west from road level

Once we reached the road it was then a matter of enjoying the nice smooth flat terrain, however the walk back to the vehicles did seem a bit further than we anticipated :lol:
Title explanation: First for crampons, seconds for the tumbles :lol:
Cracking day, big thanks to Tommy for being great company - mental note to self, watch out for ice :lol:
Next :wink:
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Re: A first and a couple of seconds in Kintail

Postby kev_russ » Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:20 pm

Braw pics Martin, your a machine these days like :wink:
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Re: A first and a couple of seconds in Kintail

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:36 pm

What a day :D Lucky you, to be able to pick good days during the week... The coming weekend looks horrible, wet and windy, so probably no mountains for us :(

Great hills these, I call them "Shiel Triplets". We actually did them one year in March, but it was a warm spring and next to no snow on the ridge. I'm tempted to return in full winter conditions.
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Re: A first and a couple of seconds in Kintail

Postby SAVAGEALICE » Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:57 pm

It sure was a grand day to be oot ...i too saw no one on the hill I was on .. ..if only I could arrange all my days off to have a nice high pressure! :wink: :D ...that ice sounds a bit nasty :( ..think i'll stick with my corbetts for the time being! ..conditions were fab on the one I was on, no ice and snow was soft so didnt need crampons on :D fingers crossed for more weather days like that :D
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Re: A first and a couple of seconds in Kintail

Postby Gordie12 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:48 pm

Personally, I don't need ice to fall over - it seems a fairly common occurrence.

That looked like a brilliant day and great photos.
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Re: A first and a couple of seconds in Kintail

Postby tommyatr » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:01 pm

Cracking report and pics as always martin.

Cheers for the company and good choice of hills,hope the knees ain't too bad.

Legs ain't to bad today which makes a change,just hope the vans mot tomorrow ain't to painfully.
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Re: A first and a couple of seconds in Kintail

Postby Collaciotach » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:33 pm

A grand day out indeed :D

Crampoons is a necessary evil :D
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Re: A first and a couple of seconds in Kintail

Postby simon-b » Fri Mar 27, 2015 7:04 pm

Wednesday was a fine day to be out, Martin. You must have been able to see a great distance from SnC. Karen and I had superb views from Mull that day. Welcome to the world of the spiky things, and walking like John Wayne to avoid snagging them!
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