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With the Sisters and Brothers -N Kintail ridge W-E and vid

With the Sisters and Brothers -N Kintail ridge W-E and vid


Postby scottishkennyg » Mon May 04, 2015 10:03 am

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Meadhoin, Saileag, Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg, Sgurr Fhuaran, Sgurr na Carnach, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe

Date walked: 01/05/2015

Time taken: 13 hours

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I had been pretty busy at work of late and the other day the boss came in and offered me the chance to get Friday off. Superb, a free day for all the unpaid hours seemed a nice gesture..unfortunately in the small print I still had to apply for the day off. Anyway the weather forecast looked sound and as I was frustrated by a recent outcome at work, it was a no brainer. I opted for the day off. The snow cover on Ben Wyvis suggested it was not time to put the winter gear away. I gave it some thought and planned to head for Glen Sheil. I packed the full winter gear and optimistically included the alternative lighter kit. I wrote a route plan out with an E.T.O.R. for 2200 which would allow for a long day if required.
I drove down to Glen Sheil assessing the snow line en-route. I was still undecided about a route or whether full winter gear was to be the order of the day. After negotiating the final bumpy section of the A87 I reached the Cluanie inn, then finally decided to go for the full North ridge. I stopped the car and parked the bike at a big chevron road sign for the return cycle journey, if I made it that far. Doing the ridge west to east is a linear route which means you need to make arrangements for the return leg. One other down side is that you also start nearer sea level.
I drove down Glen Sheil past the Jacobite diner then turned into Ault a’ Chruinn. I parked up and chose to go with the lighter boots and carry micro spikes, it was the 1st May after all. The path goes up close to a house but bypasses it and leads to a mini water works. Through the gate then it is onto the open hillside with a steep climb up into the glen. The views back down were serene. (images can be enlarged by clicking on them)
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

Climbing up to Beinn n Dubh the terrain eased as the track followed the stream uphill. There were plenty of nice waterfalls to savour as the path rose gradually to reach the ridge at 731m.
This position gives the first glimpse of the main route ahead.
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

The ground was firm and icy suggesting that the snow cover would be hard. Nope, this was definitely not the case. Once again I was to enjoy the random cold compressions as the wee short legs disappeared into snow. This was definitely going to slow progress unless the conditions improved. As there were no footprints to follow it was just a case of enjoying the virginal surface. I reached the summit of Beinn Bhuidhe and took a few moments to enjoy the views.
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I descended to cross the wee ridge to head for the steep face of Sgurr nan Saighead.

ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
A wee view back.
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
Footprints..
ImageIMG_1104 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

This section was hard going as the snow was soft, deep and there was no obvious path. I put on the micro spikes and took small steps to gradually traverse the slopes to the summit peak. Again the surrounding views were immense.
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I weaved a route down to the ridge above the East cliffs then continued along to the NW face of Sgurr Fhuaran. Again there were no obvious paths so it was a case of picking an instinctive route to the top. The weather was great with some blue skies, white fluffy clouds and sunshine with very little wind. The conditions were ideal for ridge walking aside from the fresh snow, which from personal experience can definitely cause damage to your eyes via the reflections of the sun. This time I had taken an old pair of snow glasses as basic protection, more Ali G lookalikes than Roy Orbison but still practicable.
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageIMG_1126 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I proceeded down the steep slope to reach the wee bealach and took a welcome stop for lunch. Another walker passed me at this point heading up to where I had just came from. I hoped he did not follow my footprints as there were a few deep ones.
The sunshine was warm out of the wind and it was a nice place to sit and chill. After a plain bread cheese and ham sandwich, crisps and a Crunchie, (I noticed on the wrapper that it stated do not refrigerate, not sure why?) washed down with OJ it was time to get going. I tried to follow the other walker’s tracks but as he had been wearing crampons he had obviously chosen the best route for more purchase with them. I reached the top of Sgurr na Carnach and took another wee rest to soak up the views.

ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageIMG_1117 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I continued down to the bealach and got a good view down to the road side at Achnagart and had a random thought to bail out here and walk back to car. No, although the calf muscles were tightening it was too early to leave the ridge.
I climbed up to arrive at the impressive viewpoint at the summit of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe. There was a slight haze in the skyline which prevented unrestricted views but it was still possible to pick out some prominent peaks including the Big Ben. The vision brought back the recent memories of the sun glare damage to my eyes. Indeed a valuable lesson was learned.
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

A zoom over to Skye..
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

Then it was off again with a chance to glissade down some steep snow to reach the ridge to the infamous double crested section. Of course everything looked different covered in snow so I sub consciously followed the other walker’s footprints. Not wise. I should have trusted my memory and scrambled up onto the ridge rather than just follow the footprints. Then I slipped on the thawing snow and the ground beneath me sheared. The surface was very damp beneath the snow melt and heavily moss ridden. I grabbed some dodgy rocks which held firm and a wee fall was averted. Anyway I sussed the mistake and made a beeline up to converge with the main ridge line. I continued upwards without incident to the peak of the Spaniards summit cairn.
The view of the route ahead.
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

The next section of the ridge involved donating height to reach the bealach na Lapain. This offered another opportunity to descend to the A87 and thumb a lift back. The time was after 4pm and I was tempted but it would be a long walk from that point of the road. I chose to have another filet de jambon sandwich, a Cadbury’s double decker and a wee rest. The terrain looked easier on this side as the sun had melted the snow on the glen side exposing the grass.
I headed off and passed four walkers descending who had started from the Cluanie Inn side after 1000. I continued up the grassy side to reach the snow covered top of Saileag. The summit provided a great platform to view the earlier walk and eye up what was still to come.
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

The clouds ahead looked laden and ominously threatened snow.
Descending SE led to a wee connecting ridge which had some nice snow drift shapes on it. Then it was another pull up to reach the main summit crest. The snow was swirling and mixing with the spindrift and I was glad of the rose tinted glasses. The walk along the plateau was fine and led to the final narrow arête like section with the cairn perched at the end. It was tricky to negotiate as the rocky outcrop was snow covered with some wee deep sections, I noticed that a crow was perched on the cairn cawing away as I approached. I reached the prominent top of Sgurr a Bhealaich Dearg and took some photos before heading back to the junction.
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I went down to the bealach and was tempted to head directly into the glen to the road. I munched another snack and decided to head up to the last munro. Light snow fell as I ascended and I could really feel the leg muscles tighten.
I reached the summit cairn and enjoyed the views. Toward loch Cluanie
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

The colours of the surrounding landscape were changing as the sun was dropping, a decent photographer would have been able to make better use of the prime conditions. I took a few snaps before heading off for a rapid descent.
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

Over to the South ridge and beyond.
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

Back over route..
ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageKintailRidgeNorthMay2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I reached the road and had a wee walk back to the chevron sign. I tried my luck at hitch hiking from about 30 passing vehicles but to no avail. Not very lucky at the thumbing a lift malarkey, mind you I’m not sure if drivers would have realised I was looking for a lift back the way and not in the direction I was walking toward. Anyway I reached the bike unassisted and was pleased to see everything was intact. I saddled up and got on the road for the last physical part. The going was great and thankfully it was mostly downhill for the final 20km. I reached the car just as darkness fell to end a complete day on the hills.
78 miles later I was safely home chilling out with a cold beer, fully charged and very grateful for being in a fortunate position to be able to enjoy this leisure activity.
I have put together a short video which hopefully shows some of the highlights.

Last edited by scottishkennyg on Sun May 10, 2015 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Back with the Sisters and Brothers (W-E with video)

Postby Silverhill » Mon May 04, 2015 7:37 pm

What a great day you had for this, stunning views! 8) I think I’ll save these for when there is less snow around. :wink:
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Re: Back with the Sisters and Brothers (W-E with video)

Postby Alteknacker » Mon May 04, 2015 11:45 pm

Boy, do I envy you folk that live 78 miles from this! You lucky b*****s! This is a 9 hour drive for me :(

Brilliant pics :clap: :clap: :clap: The white stuff really is the magic dust. Looking at these has just confirmed the North ridge on my list of "must do's" for this year.
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Re: Back with the Sisters and Brothers (W-E with video)

Postby scottishkennyg » Thu May 07, 2015 7:19 pm

Silverhill wrote:What a great day you had for this, stunning views! 8) I think I’ll save these for when there is less snow around. :wink:

Thanks Silverhill, hope you get some good weather when you get the chance to get over them. cheers Kenny
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Re: Back with the Sisters and Brothers (W-E with video)

Postby scottishkennyg » Thu May 07, 2015 7:21 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Boy, do I envy you folk that live 78 miles from this! You lucky b*****s! This is a 9 hour drive for me :(

Brilliant pics :clap: :clap: :clap: The white stuff really is the magic dust. Looking at these has just confirmed the North ridge on my list of "must do's" for this year.


Thanks A, yes we are very lucky to have the outdoor playgrounds so close to us..hope you catch some great weather on your next visit north. Cheers Kenny
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Re: Back with the Sisters and Brothers (W-E with video)

Postby rockhopper » Thu May 07, 2015 11:23 pm

Cracking stuff, Kenny - what a great day for this walk :thumbup: Great set of photos as ever - wondered if you're aiming for round 2 ? - cheers :)
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Re: Back with the Sisters and Brothers (W-E with video)

Postby scottishkennyg » Sun May 10, 2015 10:55 am

rockhopper wrote:Cracking stuff, Kenny - what a great day for this walk :thumbup: Great set of photos as ever - wondered if you're aiming for round 2 ? - cheers :)

Thanks Neil, not sure, but it would be good to try another round with a view to combine them with any nearby Corbetts. At the moment just happy to pick some decent weather and head out for the day. How about yourself? Rd II ? Cheers K
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Re: Back with the Sisters and Brothers (W-E with video)

Postby rockhopper » Sun May 10, 2015 11:17 am

scottishkennyg wrote:... not sure, but it would be good to try another round with a view to combine them with any nearby Corbetts. At the moment just happy to pick some decent weather and head out for the day. How about yourself? Rd II ? Cheers K
Nope - no plans for rd2. Focusing more on corbetts with others added on when it makes sense - looks like it'll take many years though given the rate I'm going at - too many other things at present getting in the way of getting out :roll: - cheers :)
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Re: With the Sisters and Brothers -N Kintail ridge W-E and v

Postby edinburgh36 » Sun May 10, 2015 6:50 pm

Great pictures and report! This is definitely my plan B for the next bank holiday weekend. Hope to get a day as good as you had for it!
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Re: Back with the Sisters and Brothers (W-E with video)

Postby scottishkennyg » Mon May 11, 2015 9:52 pm

Nope - no plans for rd2. Focusing more on corbetts with others added on when it makes sense - looks like it'll take many years though given the rate I'm going at - too many other things at present getting in the way of getting out :roll: - cheers :)[/quote]
Yep, know what you mean, hopefully you will get out and about more soon and in time for the better weather when it comes..Cheers K
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Re: With the Sisters and Brothers -N Kintail ridge W-E and v

Postby scottishkennyg » Mon May 11, 2015 9:54 pm

edinburgh36 wrote:Great pictures and report! This is definitely my plan B for the next bank holiday weekend. Hope to get a day as good as you had for it!

Thanks E36. Hope the weather warms up for you on your next visit. Cheers K
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Re: With the Sisters and Brothers -N Kintail ridge W-E and v

Postby Jock McJock » Tue May 12, 2015 7:07 pm

Nice report and pics. Got this on the radar for this year along with the south ridge. Like you, I'll use the bike to get myself back to the car at the end of both ridges so it was good to see a report about doing that. I also commend you on your choice of hill chocolate, something which I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert in :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: With the Sisters and Brothers -N Kintail ridge W-E and v

Postby scottishkennyg » Thu May 14, 2015 7:55 pm

Thanks Jock, Aye I must admit I can pack the chocolate away..got a bit a sweet spot for the Aldi white chocolate just now which at 38p a bar provides a cracking energy boost... :)
Hope you get good weather when you go over the ridge. Cheers Kenny
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