A first and a couple of seconds in Kintail
by 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: 1325m6 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
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
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
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 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
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
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
DSCF0059 by martin_beswick, on Flickr
Great setting for the start, just a shame that there was so much litter
DSCF0060 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
DSCF0067 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
DSCF0076 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Looking across to the ridge
DSCF0084 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Western end of Loch Cluanie
DSCF0085 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Tommy taking in the views
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
DSCF0091 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
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 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
DSCF0093 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Plenty of cornices with Sgurr nan Conbhairean poking it's head up
DSCF0097 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Looking back
DSCF0100 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
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 , 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
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 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
The rest of the ascent would have been impossible without crampons, as there were large ice fields to cross all on a slight incline.
DSCF0105 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Looking the part now
DSCF0106 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - The dreaded ice
DSCF0107 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - More ice
DSCF0108 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
The views from Sgurr nan Conbhairean were outstanding in all directions, especially as it the highest hill for miles around.
DSCF0109 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - the next and final destination, note the snow on the descent
DSCF0111 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - the view to the NW
DSCF0115 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Overhanging cornices
DSCF0122 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Looking back to the 2nd summit
DSCF0124 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 There was very little ascent to our final destination and once again the views were amazing As we approached the 3rd summit the underfoot conditions were much better so it was off with the crampons.
DSCF0129 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Avalanche damage
DSCF0136 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Avalance zoomed
DSCF0132 by martin_beswick, on Flickr
DSCF0133 by martin_beswick, on Flickr
DSCF0134 by martin_beswick, on Flickr
DSCF0138 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - 3rd and final summit Sail Chaorainn, must have been a bit warmer notice no gloves
DSCF0140 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Looking back and up to the 2nd summit
DSCF0142 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
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.
DSCF0144 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - The traverse of the western flank, the white stuff twinkling in the sun
DSCF0146 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - The descent down to Drochaid an Tuill Easaich
DSCF0150 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Another shot of the same descent with a nicer background
DSCF0155 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - the only other living thing we saw all day
DSCF0160 by martin_beswick, on Flickr
DSCF0169 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Loch Cluanie again
DSCF0170 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
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
DSCF0183 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Tommy opted to slide down the slab
DSCF0184 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - well almost
DSCF0186 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Descent gradient angle
DSCF0189 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Obligatory water feature, Allt Coire nan Clach
DSCF0191 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
Title explanation: First for crampons, seconds for the tumbles
Cracking day, big thanks to Tommy for being great company - mental note to self, watch out for ice
by kev_russ » Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:20 pm
by BlackPanther » Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:36 pm
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.
by SAVAGEALICE » Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:57 pm
by Gordie12 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:48 pm
That looked like a brilliant day and great photos.
by tommyatr » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:01 pm
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.
by Collaciotach » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:33 pm
Crampoons is a necessary evil
by simon-b » Fri Mar 27, 2015 7:04 pm