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The Saddle - Part of it With Company
Munros included on this walk: The Saddle
Date walked: 21/06/2010
Time taken: 6 hoursRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
We had a full non-windscreen-fixing day to do a Munro walk during our stay at Glen Shiel (only one mind) so Richard decided we should do The Saddle. It was only one Munro as opposed to my favoured option of the Carn Glusaid three but Richard won that round so The Saddle it was. As it’s another short walk we had another nice late start, probably starting up the mountain around 1030.
We plodded in the hot sun up the stalker’s path round Meallan Odhar again where Richard’s hoped-for objective sprung into view – the Forcan Ridge! I looked at it for about 10 seconds and could see it was definitely not for Mountain Cowards so that was me ruled out - Richard was still keen however... He said he’d leave the final decision till the start of the ridge. We could see someone was already on the first high peak of it...
In less than an hour from the start we were at the foot of the Forcan Ridge once again – but this time in beautifully clear weather. I was very nervous – both for myself, as I believed The Saddle to be an ogre even by the “Coward’s Route”, and also for Richard who was about to tackle the Forcan Ridge alone. He decided he definitely was going to have a go so I just shut up as I didn’t want to be a negative influence. I gave him a quick spiel on the ridge and reminded him that, when he got to the awkward downclimb (telling him he’d know when that was), not to downclimb it but to take the easier paths either side of it.
I got out my compass for some reason at this point and was horrified to see the needle was floating free inside the casing – it had completely come off its spindle... so that was one compass between us. I quickly commandeered Richard’s compass as he wouldn’t need it on the ridge as there isn’t much choice of route really and told him I’d wait for him on the summit.
Off he set up the ridge and off I set on the path alongside the dry-stone wall we’d followed back from Sgurr na Sgine a couple of days before. My heart was literally in my mouth, mainly for Richard but I was also worrying about what my previously unseen route around the corner would be like. Half-way along my wall route I looked round to see Richard perched atop the first main peak on the ridge. I gave him a wave and he waved back – so far, so good apparently... When I reached the corner where I was to pass out of sight behind a spur of the Forcan Ridge I had another quick look but couldn’t see him – I assumed all was okay...
My thoughts and attention turned back to myself and my route. I set off up the path from above the bealach looking for a diversion to the left round the spur as, for a while, the path is heading straight for Sgurr nan Forcan. Eventually the slight left turn came and I saw where the path went up onto the summit ridge – it looked very steep, loose scree on the final climb up the corrie wall. But I was still a long way off so I decided I’d just see what it looked like when I got there as I could see there was an easy way on grass up the spur to the left of the path. I looked to my right to the Forcan Ridge again and could see a guy just setting off to tackle the fierce downclimb. After an initial attempt facing out, he went back up again, faced in and retried it. I assumed it was the guy we’d seen earlier. It looked horrendously difficult so, rather than watch him potentially fall down my side of the mountain, I turned my attention once again back to my route.
As I got nearer to the steep scree path up into the corrie for the final climb up The Saddle, I decided my route looked fine after all – at least in ascent – and if I decided it was too steep for me to descend I could just go back down the grassy spur I’d seen. The path was a little loose but there were no problems and, even looking back down, I could see it wasn’t anything to worry about. I could see the rocky wall of the summit ridge approaching though and wondered how narrow it was. When I climbed out of the corrie onto the summit ridge I was delighted to see that I didn’t have to go along any kind of narrow rocky ridge – my way was across extremely easy-angled grass on a wide plateau with a beautiful little lochan in the middle. I was soon across the grass and at the trig point. I then looked at the peak which terminated the end of the Forcan Ridge and decided it looked higher so thought I’d probably best try to reach it, although I was sure everyone I’d spoken to had said the trig point was the actual summit.
I set off along a narrowish and rocky ridge with superb views across to the Forcan Ridge and started up the rocky scramble of the peak. I got probably three-quarters of the way up and met a short traverse across a very narrow ledge with more rocky scrambling above it. This had a bit of a drop below it so I decided not to bother and to go back to what I hoped was the main summit and wait until the guy came off the Forcan and then I could check with him whether or not I had to do it. He soon appeared and confirmed I didn’t have to. I was at this point sat on a nice point along the ridge between the 2 summits where I had a good vantage point to see Richard coming along the Forcan so we chatted for a while and he told me what the ridge had been like. I asked him what he’d done when he reached the downclimb and he said he’d set off down it, thought better of it and gone back up to look for the other routes. He’d chosen one of them and said it was okay from then. I was still assuming it was him I’d seen on the downclimb...
We were chatting for a while and I was studying Sgurr nan Forcan intently waiting for Richard to appear and hoping he was coping. I was starting to worry that I couldn’t see him anywhere on the ridge and was wondering whether he was either stuck or, horror of horrors, had fallen off it! I suddenly spotted a figure atop the rocky summit I’d tried to get onto – unbelievably it was Richard – already! He’d managed the ridge in about 10 minutes more than it took me to charge round my easy route! The other bloke couldn’t believe he’d caught him up when we’d originally seen him on the first peak of the ridge as we rounded Meallan Odhar on the first col – for that matter, neither could I! I asked him how he’d found it and he pulled quite a face – he said I definitely wouldn’t have even got past the starting point as it had started off up an awkward slab and had become very steep after that, soon becoming narrow.
I asked him which side he’d gone at the downclimb. He said he’d gone straight down it – all my words beforehand had apparently completely gone out of his head – he couldn’t even remember me advising him! I think it was probably him I saw starting to negotiate it. For anyone wanting to tackle it direct, his description was something along the lines of: he faced in and dangled in an attempt to reach the one very small hold just about at full stretch (for him – he’s about 5 foot 8 small). He eventually managed to get a foot on it where he said he then had to dangle about another 7 or 8 feet to land on the small, curved area of the ridge below. I asked him what he’d have done if, on his first dangle, he hadn’t managed to reach the small foothold? Obviously he couldn’t just have let go and hoped he stopped when he hit it – nor could he have pulled himself back up from such a predicament. Thinking about his actions still gives me nightmares!
The guy then headed off and we sat near the summit looking down on a very pretty little lochan and having our flasks and some tea-loaf. Richard was wanting to do the 2 tops further round the summit ridge. I’d already looked at them and thought they probably weren’t for me either but I half-heartedly decided I’d set off with him and give them a go. More or less from the start I wasn’t really happy and was finding it steep-sided and narrow but I continued most of the way to the first top where a set of slabs across the ridge blocked the way. I looked at them and decided it really wasn’t for me and said I was going back – I’d already had a couple of bits where I’d found it awkward and wasn’t enjoying myself so it just seemed pointless really...
So it was back to the summit lochan and a laze in the sun for me for an hour or so while Richard went off and heroically bagged the rest of the tops of The Saddle. I kept banging him on the back all the way back and telling him he was a hero! So I had one of my feared Munros out of the way with no problems while Richard had: another Munro, all the tops, the Fearsome Forcan Ridge and backache!
- mountain coward
by Jock McJock » Fri Jul 16, 2010 7:28 am
by Paul Webster » Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:45 am
by gaffr » Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:06 am
by Scotjamie » Fri Jul 16, 2010 4:34 pm
So similar to our group's experience in May - will get the report out asap for comparison
meanwhile, great reports (including Sgurr na Sgine) and well done
I often think Richard doesn't have much mountain common sense of his own (he'll be really mad when he reads this) and feel I generally supply it for him - hence the spiel before he set off! But of course I could be wrong and maybe it's just that I fuss like a mother hen if I think something is dangerous and one of my friends is about to tackle it. But he does tend to rely on me for navigation, route planning and everything else (or maybe I just insist on taking all that over for my own, nervous benefit - certainly I spend a lot of time looking for the easiest, least-steep routes) so I always worry about sending him off on his own on one of his 'exciting ridges' - the only thing is that generally if it's an exciting enough ridge, you can't really get lost (hence the compass hijack)! But I do wish he'd pin back his lugholes for specific advice such as where and how to descend the 'bad downclimb' - I thought I really stressed that point but it obviously went in one ear and out the other!
Paul - defo look for the route either side of the 'downclimb' - I could see one from below and the one on the other side (right hand) is supposed to be even easier...
- mountain coward
by malky_c » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:59 pm
Have to confess I'm sure I descended the step in the Forcan Ridge directly, and don't remember any problems with it. Mind you, I have since discovered to my cost that my memory can be a bit selective about these things though!
On the having problems in Kintail bit... I have one walk report yet to write Just sent off the film this afternoon so waiting for it to come back and be scanned. Surprisingly, although I was terrified at the time, I actually managed to take a few pictures!
- mountain coward
by skuk007 » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:15 pm
- mountain coward
by skuk007 » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:19 pm
- mountain coward
by walk aboot » Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:17 pm