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Sgurr na Sgine & Faochag

Sgurr na Sgine & Faochag

Postby mountain coward » Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:16 am

Munros included on this walk: Sgurr na Sgine

Grahams included on this walk: Biod an Fhithich

Date walked: 19/06/2010

Time taken: 6 hours

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Stats: 9 miles, 4093 feet of ascent, 6 hours (including a lot of chatting to others en-route), me and Richard, hot and sunny to start but low cloud by the first summit…

Had a very sleepless night before this one as I’ve been terrified at the sight of the super-steep ridge of Faochag ever since I first saw it years ago. But I was determined to do it – I’d never forgive myself every time I drove past it otherwise! In fact, I was so stressed out that, when Richard came into my room with a coffee to wake me after I’d eventually fallen into an uneasy sleep, the very first thing I said to him was “Horrible hills!”. He thought that was hilarious and we both went around saying it for the rest of the week in Kintail…
Faochag & Kintail Hills.jpg
Faochag second from left...

I reluctantly got up and forced some breakfast down to my, by now churning, stomach and we were parked not far from the foot of the hill by about 10… Most of the way up the road, I’d been staring at Faochag rather than looking where I was driving – it looked really steep and sharp and then, the final rise at the top, just when you were really high up, looked vertical! It looked pretty sharp as well.

We booted up and set off – by now it was pretty hot and sunny. By the time we started the ascent, which is steep from the off, we were out of the wind so it was really sticky – that bothered Richard more than me though as I barely noticed due to my increasing nervousness…

The first few bits are slightly rocky and scrambly but fine… we noticed another couple with a rather portly dog were following us up. The couple who’d been in front of us, who I was also hoping would be more company for me (the more the better for me when I’m nervous – especially up front so I can see what happens), turned off to walk up to the pass over to Tomdoun.

We finished with the rocky bit and arrived at the foot of the first very steep grassy rise… I eyed it suspiciously and attentively… actually, it looked fine and there was a nice zig-zag path going up it… I led off up it looking back down periodically to make sure the steepness wasn’t creeping up on me!

We seemed to climb steeply for an age but I was looking at the top of that section and thinking; “Oh well, then there’s only the flattish bit before the final extremely steep section to go”. Of course, when we got to the top of that bit, that wasn’t the case at all… there was just another steep, grassy section but slightly narrower this time. We continued up… At the top of that section I was still expecting the final steep rise but of course I was wrong again. Eventually, my thoughts changed to me just wondering fearfully how many more of these there were and how much steeper and narrower it was going to get. I had to admit to myself that there hadn’t been any problems though… yet!

Much later, we arrived at a bit which looked very steep and narrow indeed to me but just before it there was a nice flattish bit and a couple heading down towards us. I quizzed them in true mountain coward fashion; “Is there much more of this and does it get much steeper and narrower?”… the lady confirmed that indeed there was and indeed it did. But she did add for my comfort (as she could probably see I looked rattled) that she too was afraid of heights and there’d been a good path all the way and it hadn’t been scary, honest. Thank goodness for the empathy of women eh? He just probably wondered what on earth I was making a fuss about!

As she said, there was a perfectly good path and, although it started to look narrow, and steep down the right-hand side, I coped and we eventually arrived at the point where the ridge flattens off quite a bit and then, soon after, the summit cairn… phew!

As I set off along the quite narrow ridge, I was still nervous about what lie ahead, especially as it was by now in a thick mist but have to say that there were no problems along the ridge and it soon got comfortably wider. I looked back from the slight summit halfway along hoping for a spectacular photo of the narrow ridge but it was too cloudy. I peered down the side which goes down to the Bealach Coire a’ Mhalagain to try to see where we had to descend later, hoping the cloud would clear long enough for us to see. Luckily, after a moment or two, it cleared briefly and we got a good look down – looked rough but fine. By now, I’d started to relax ever so slightly and was even thinking that, if we’d had to, I would have gone back down Faochag – a pretty unusual thought for someone who positively hates going down steep ridges! Only if we’d had to mind…

We continued along the ridge and presently arrived at a looming, steep and rocky-looking bulk in the mist just after we’d turned the corner of the ridge. I started feeling nervous again as it looked horrible – as things looming out of the mist often do. I went very quiet again… But when we got to it, again there was a great path heading off up - as soon as we set off up it, I realised it was absolutely fine and not steep at all. We seemed to be on top of ’the top’ in no time! Even sooner after that, and with hardly any dip or re-climb at all, we were on the Munro summit where there were 2 chappies we’d caught sight of earlier sat admiring the mist. We knew that the summit was very near a drop so we walked a few yards further until there was nothing but space in front of us – yup, must be the summit then. They confirmed we could go no further… well, not in that direction anyway.
Sgurr na Sgine from The Saddle.jpg
taken on another day...

We stayed long enough for a hot drink and some tea-loaf and then set off back just behind the 2 guys. They soon disappeared into the mist though as they were going like a bomb! Just before we reached the little summit mid-ridge, we saw a scratchy bit of path setting off in the direction of the Bealach Coire a’ Mhalagain and set off down. It was a bit rocky but not steep and there was no scrambling so I was happy. We met a lovely couple from Derby on the way up who’d just done the Saddle via the Forcan Ridge. We pumped them for info as Richard was fancying it – I also pumped them for info about the coward’s route which they’d descended. Would have to be another day though as it was completely clagged in by now, right down to the bealach.
Lochan Choire a' Mhalagain.jpg

We were a bit disappointed not to do The Saddle the same day but the couple had said the path down had been sketchy and so, with the bad visilibity and with the route unseen, I didn’t want to try it really. So we fished around for the wall leaving the bealach (it’s slightly above it following the path up the first couple of rises) and followed the wall back to the foot of The Forcan Ridge where we had a little study of it… Then we headed off towards Meallan Odhar. It seemed a shame to skirt round the poor thing so I said we should go over its summit and then rejoin the path.

After we’d done Meallan Odhar it was a short descent to the col where the path does a sharp turn in the opposite direction to begin the descent to the valley. However, Bod an Fhithich was looking very appealing – well it was to me – Richard just wanted to get back to the car. I kept telling him it looked great and it was only ‘just over there’ and ‘Look, there’s even a little path to it’. I said I was going to do it anyway and was surprised when he followed me. It’s a great little peak and takes no time to ascend from there so is well worth doing. You then get a lovely view along the ridge of A Mhuing to Loch Duich. After admiring the view and the ridge we headed off back to the car down the excellent stalkers’ path…
Bod an Fhithich.jpg
A' Mhuing from Bod an Fhithich.jpg
Last edited by mountain coward on Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
mountain coward

Re: Sgurr na Sgine & Faochag

Postby Jock McJock » Fri Jul 16, 2010 7:42 am

:lol: Another great report MC, your trepidation really amuses me. Not in a laugh at you kind of way I must stress, just that I can't believe you put yourself through it time and again and go back for more. Certainly makes reading your reports intersesting as you can almost feel the nervousness coming through. And more nice pics too, always like a good pic :D
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Re: Sgurr na Sgine & Faochag

Postby Paul Webster » Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:17 am

I love reading these too - you can really get into the way you feel. I'm sure there is a level where all of us feel like that - for me it was the harder half of the Cuillin summits.

I was worried you'd left WH so good to see you are back posting with a vengeance :D

ps. Biod an Fhithich - I like it too - is a Graham :thumbup:
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Re: Sgurr na Sgine & Faochag

Postby mountain coward » Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:43 pm

Nah - hadn't left - just having a proper 'holiday' (i.e. relaxing walking) in the Lakes for a week - was superb. Actually am going to put out a walk report for one of the days as it was vaguely amusing...

I wish I could get past that certain stage of nervousness - I know I should be doing but it just won't go away! :(
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Re: Sgurr na Sgine & Faochag

Postby LeithySuburbs » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:11 pm

Enjoyable read as usual. It's never much fun not knowing if you are at the true summit or not so nice to have some re-assurance. I wonder if I've ever not made it to any without even knowing....
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Re: Sgurr na Sgine & Faochag

Postby mountain coward » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:18 pm

Yeah me and Richard did on Ben Ime! We had to go back and do it again this year (which was fine 'cos I really like the Arrochar Alps! :D ) But quite a while after we'd done it, I saw a photo of it and realised we'd gone to the other, lesser summit instead of the main one! Always a horrible feeling when you first realise - just a good job it was an easy peak.
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Re: Sgurr na Sgine & Faochag

Postby malky_c » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:37 pm

Glad to see you didn't find that too bad - more a fear of what might be further on than any particularly nerve-wracking parts. And you got Biod an Fhithich too! I'm jealous as I still haven't done that one.

Anyway, glad you've reappeared as I put in some shots of the Fiacaill ridge in the Cairngorms in a recent report, partly with you in mind. Like Paul, I thought you'd disappeared!
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Re: Sgurr na Sgine & Faochag

Postby mountain coward » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:52 pm

Great thanks - I'll have a look for your report... I'm sure the Fiacall is a ridge I can do if I put my mind to it... and I have more confidence in the Cairngorms as I don't generally think they're out to get me! Not like the Kintail ones :o :lol:

But the Faochag fear was definitely me thinking it was going to be awful rather than it actually being awful... I actually think I'd possibly do it again sometime now :D But I really was literally feeling sick with nerves all the way up it - surprised I haven't had a heart attack yet! With the amount of comments in various guide books saying that it isn't as bad as it looks, I take it I'm not the only one to think it looks fearsomely steep though...
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