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Night on a bare mountain

Night on a bare mountain


Postby past my sell by date » Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:55 pm

Munros included on this walk: Sgurr Mor (Loch Quoich)

Corbetts included on this walk: Sgurr an Fhuarain, Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoigh

Date walked: 09/06/2015

Time taken: 21 hours

Distance: 20 km

Ascent: 1790m

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June is the month for bivouacs I read in another report here - yes I agree. Last year it was the Fisherfield, (http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=43303) this year Knoydart. Sgurr Mor is one of my last 3 Munros and I wanted to make it special. Ideally I had hoped to start at the Quoich dam and finish at Inverie, but the logistics proved impossible, so I decided to modify the standard route from Strathan by adding some Corbetts to the ascent.
The perils of the road along Loch Arkaig have been described by others - and some of the blind summits are truly scary - but on a sunny June morning the scenery was stunning: light green birch and oak forests, the blue loch and distant hills.
Image Young Oak trees along loch Arkaig
Image Looking up the loch to Sgurr na-h-Aide
Image Further up the loch
Image Sgurr Thuilm
Image Gulvain to the South
I reached the road end and set off about 1.00pm - with lightweight bivouac gear, my rucksack was down to about 5.5kg and I didn't really notice it. Some stags on a rock above the road stared down at me, but made no move to retreat - I doubt they will be so tame come August.
Image
Stags
Image And hinds
I passed Strathan and headed up Glen Dessary
Image Streap and Sgurr Thuilm from Strathan
Image Looking up Glen Desssary to Sgurr na-h-Aide (often mistaken for Sgur na Ciche)
Image
I like the new lodge - it's good to see investment in these remote Western glens, though a few trees around it would be an improvement, but I've always found the drab pine forests in this area depressing and out of place. Hopefully when they are finally harvested they won't be replaced - but according to the estate's "blurb" there are wild boar in them :shock:
I turned R on the path over to Glen Kingie and Tomdoun, but as soon as I passed through the gap in the stock fence, I cut L across the burn and headed almost directly towards the summit of Sgurr Cos na Breachd laiogh my first Corbett.
Image Looking up to Sgurr Cos na Breachd laiogh
The going was very dry on this south facing slope - and I stopped for a rest around the 500m contour just below the flat part of the South East ridge.
Image the top looks a bit closer now
Image Sgurr na-h-Aide again beyond the pine forests
Image looking back to the start - Gulvain behind
Image The awful pine trees :( - the Corryhully hills behind
I pressed on beyond the level area and up the steep slopes to the summit ridge, and then North to the top - 3 hours - Starting so low - Loch Arkaig is only about 40m above sea level - these are big hills. I rested on the top for quite a while
Image Sgurr nan Coireachan and beyond from the summit ridge
Image A wider view from the same point
Image Sgurr Mor, Sgurr an Fhurain and Gairich from the top
Image The Ben beyond Gulvain
Image The complex slopes leading up to Sgurr nan Coireachan - An Eag is just out of the picture R
I had found no water up to now and there was much less snow than I had expected - to run out of water in Knoydart - maybe the wettest place in the Highlands - would be bizarre indeed - but descending to the "famous" wall on the col I found a big snow patch wth a stream below.
After considerable thought, I decided to traverse under An Eag rather than climb over it. Routes like this can be time consuming if you encounter deep chasms, but a careful examination of the slope suggested it was OK. I could clearly see the stalkers path climbing up on the far side and it looked as if I could I could traverse below the large rock casting a shadow in the picture and reach it quite easily.
Image Looking across to the traverse towards Sgurr Mor and Sgurr an Fhurain
In fact the natural line led me above this, but I reached the next col without difficulty in about 30 minutes. It was 6.0clock.
Image Approximate line of my traverse - detail from the valley floor next day
Image The route up Sgurr Mor from the col
Image Looking West, the hills are becoming just silhouettes
Image Looking back to Sgurr Cos na Breachd laiogh and it's Eastern ridge to Druim a Chuirn
It's a full 450 m of ascent from this col to the top - including the sharp little drop beyond Sgurr Beag, but the easy angled zig-zags of the stalkers path rendered it relatively painless :) . I reached Sgurr Beag at 6.30pm and rested for quite a while. I also found a big snow patch and topped up my water bottle with ice crystals.
Image Sgurr Mor from Sgurr Beag
Image The view South of West - Sgurr na Ciche stands out: Ben Aden on the R
Image Ben Aden L to Beinn Sgritheall R
Image North West, Beinn Sgritheall withThe Saddle and the South Cluanie ridge R of centre
Image Sgurr Mor and Sgurr an Fhurain
Image Gulvain
Image Fraoch Bheinn - Ben Nevis, Aonachs and Grey Corries behind
Image Sgurr Mhurlagain
I left Sgurr Beag just before 7.00 and reached Sgurr Mor about 7.50. All the hills to the West were just Silhouettes and I sat by the Summit cairn and watched as the sun set and the mist slowly poured into the valleys.
Image Looking West, Lochan nan Breac shines in the sun beyond Loch Quoich
Image Silhouettes
I took a lot of photos - I couldn't decide which to leave out, so I've put most of them in with the times
7.50-8.00 .
Image

Image Garbh Chioch Mhor and Sgurr na Ciche
ImageStill sunny looking E to the other end of Loch Quoich
Image I thought initially that this was The Saddle, but a few lines drawn on the map showed it to be Beinn Sgritheall one of the most Westerly Munros
Image back the way I'd come
Image A wider panorama
8.40 -8.45
Image Sgurr Beag, An Eag and Sgurr nan Coireachan
Image

Image

Image Beinn Sgritheall floating in a sea of cloud
9.10.
Image
9.25
Image

Image Detail of the Cuillins - Blaven and Clach Glas with the Pinnacle ridge behind
Image the mist creeps over the ridges
At this point it got a bit cold sitting by the cairn. I found a soft grassy hollow about 5 m below the summit and organised my bivouac. A cold wind kept blowing on my face but I put up my anorak hood which helped. There was a clear sky and I was several hundred feet higher than a year before - my Cumulus sleeping bag was just sufficient :) But I kept sitting up to take more photos
10.10
Image
10.20
Image

Image
I must have slept quite a bit as the next shot is at 3.20A.M
Image The afterglow of the sun has just moved North a bit.
I got up just after 4.00A.M. It was pretty chilly, but I packed everything away, put on overtrousers and gloves and walked the few yards back up to the cairn. To the West the hills were just greyish blue sitting on a sea of mist
4.10-4.15
Image

Image

Image The twin peaks of The Saddle are on the extreme R
but further North the redness reappeared and the sun was just on the point of rising to the North
Image the valleys were full of mist
Image

Image A closer view
I set off down the path towards Sgurr an Fhurain, dumped my sack at the col and walked easily up to the top. I'm sure it has the necessary qualifications but this is a very painless Corbett from here. :o
5.30 - 5.40.
Image looking back to Sgurr Mor
Image a sea of mist
Image Part of Loch Quoich was clear
Image Sgurr Mhurlagain - the mist appears to continue all the way up Glen Spean
Image a wider view West
Image Fraoch Bheinn - mist spilling over from Glen Dessary
Image To the North East another sea of mist
Image Early morning sun on Sgurr Mor
Image A closer look at Sgurr na Ciche and its outliers. I've climbed it both from Glen Dessary and from the head of Loch Quoich - I don't remember it feeling as steep as it looks from here :?
Image the mist extends right out to sea
Image

Image A wider view
Image mist still spilling over from Glen Dessary
I walked back down and picked up my sack
6.15
Image Looking North across Loch Quoich from the col
I set off straight down the hill aiming for the point where the Kingie looked crossable.
6.37
Image The mist still hanging above the col leading to Glen Dessary
I had at one time entertained thoughts of doing Fraoch Bheinn and Mhurlagain on the way back - but it was just a pipe dream :lol: These are big hills in tough country: I guess I could have forced myself over one of them, but they can be conveniently climbed together so there wasn't much point - well that's my story - and I'm sticking to it :lol: I leave the full round to Weaselmaster, Black Panther or some other young blood.
Down in the valley the narrow little burns that descend this hillside were ringed in vegetation debris - one can imagine what they're like after heavy rain.
7.10
Image Looking up to the head of Glen Kingie - An Eag, Sgurr Beag and Sgurr Mor.
People say this is a wonderful "wild" glen, but like so many other glens, to me it's a wasteland destroyed through overgrazing (by sheep and deer). How much nicer it would be if the river were fringed with Willow, Alder, Birch, Rowan, Hazel etc. :( I crossed the river dryshod and noted all the remants of the ancient Caledonian forest in the peat bogs - It certainly would have been different then.
I didn't really want to return via Glen Dessary: if I went over the next col - between Fraoch Bheinn and Mhurlagan - I could drop straight down to the car: But the thought of walking the extra 2 Km to Kinbreak down the horrendously boggy floor of the valley dissuaded me. Those 2 Km would be much more easily walked on the track. So I set off up into the mist. The supposed path on this side is a figment of the imagination - just a different bit of bog, but after I struggled up to the flat section in the middle, the mist lifted a little and I found the reasonable path on the other side. I reached the track about 9.00 and I met several "early birds" setting off up Sgurr Mor - I was able to assure them that the rivercrossing was no problem. Back at the car 9.30 - just two to go :)
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Last edited by past my sell by date on Sat Jul 04, 2015 1:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
past my sell by date
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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby PeteR » Sat Jun 27, 2015 11:04 pm

That looks a superb experience :clap:

And a fine collection of photos to remember it by :D

I have this Munro in mind for my compleation, should I ever get to that point :wink:
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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby dav2930 » Sat Jun 27, 2015 11:36 pm

Absolutely stunning. Those are some of the best photos of the Highlands I've ever seen. What a fabulous place to spend a night and what great weather for it! :clap: :clap:
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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby rockhopper » Sat Jun 27, 2015 11:48 pm

Magic :thumbup: Nice route, great photos - bet you're chuffed with yourself !
Hill trips don't come much better than this :mrgreen: - cheers :)
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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby Beaner001 » Sun Jun 28, 2015 8:21 am

Absolutely stunning photos there :clap: I've yet to get to this area but your report has me gagging to go now :lol:
All the best in your journey to compleat :D
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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sun Jun 28, 2015 10:20 am

Stunning report and photos, what a wonderful way to spend your time :clap: :clap: I've only nibbled at the edges of this area, so your report and photos has given me a wonderful overview of somewhere I'm keen to get a closer acquaintance. Many thanks :D :D
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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby JimboJim » Sun Jun 28, 2015 3:02 pm

Great! really enjoyed your photo's, thanks.
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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby ancancha » Sun Jun 28, 2015 4:00 pm

Worth staying up / waking up for that sunset and sunrise with the mist in the glens. Bet it was a lot more fabulous for real, though your photos do offer a glimpse into the magic :clap:
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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby Gordie12 » Sun Jun 28, 2015 4:32 pm

That just looked stunning - thanks for posting.
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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby old danensian » Sun Jun 28, 2015 5:18 pm

Simply stunning - and you really get a sense of chill in those early morning shots - and, as you say, it's a great time of year for being out in those late and early hours.

Timely thoughts on Glen Kingie - as I'm thinking about a long approach to Sgurr Mor up that glen before heading back over the Corbett and on to Gairich - it looks good from above but could be a long walk in unchanging surroundings

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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby Silverhill » Sun Jun 28, 2015 5:47 pm

A fantastic report! And I am very envious :mrgreen: :mrgreen: . I also did Sgurr Mor on 8 June (got to the summit around noon) and whereas it was clear, there was no blue sky. Furthermore, on the way to Sgurr nan Coireachan the cloud came down so I didn’t see a thing until I got below the cloud base in Coire na Ciche. So please tell me this was on a different day! I will be even more envious if not (and indeed extremely miffed if the cloud was surrounding only me :lol: ). This is fantastic walking country and well worth saving for a good day, which you had. I was promised a good day by MWIS. Good luck with the last two! :D
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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby Gordie12 » Sun Jun 28, 2015 6:03 pm

I'm jealous, that looked terrific.

It always amazes me when people recognise all the hills and can name each one in their photos, I can't even recognise the ones I've already climbed.
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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby past my sell by date » Sun Jun 28, 2015 6:32 pm

Silverhill
" I also did Sgurr Mor on 8 June" No you're right - it was 9th -10th I did my walk -though arriving at a Munro at 8.00p.m. you don't expect to meet anyone else :lol:
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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby mgmt! » Sun Jun 28, 2015 8:35 pm

brilliant, these are the reports that make you want to get out on the hills.
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Re: Night on a bare mountain

Postby mrssanta » Sun Jun 28, 2015 8:36 pm

oh my that was fabulous. We are off up in that direction at the end of the week hope our weather is half as nice.
How on earth did you keep your pack down to 5.5kg?
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