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Sun and snow at Cluanie

Sun and snow at Cluanie


Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:46 pm

Route description: South Glen Shiel Ridge: 7 Munros

Munros included on this walk: Druim Shionnach, Maol chinn-dearg

Date walked: 26/01/2012

Time taken: 18 hours

Distance: 30 km

Ascent: 3000m

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In March 2016 we will be staying in Invergarry. The thought of this area, bristling with fine peaks and ridges, made me look back to a great long weekend we had at the Cluanie Inn and our forays into the surrounding snowy landscape.

Being based at the Inn but without our own transport, the eastern section of the south Cluanie ridge offered a pub-centred circuit. The day dawned fine and bright, with sunlight tipping the white velvet of Sgurr an Doire Leathain and Sgurr an Lochain.

ImageIMG_5167 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

A filmy stratum of gray cloud had covered the sky by the time we got onto the hill. We started from the road a couple of miles west of the Inn, following a good stalker's path, still traceable in the snow, up the ridge towards Maol Chinn-dearg, with the crags of Coire an Eirecheanach looming ahead of us.

ImageIMG_5168 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

Sitting right next to the path, seeming unfazed by us, was a mountain hare.

ImageIMG_5169 (1) by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

After a minute or so it loped lazily away, its perfect camouflage blending immediately into the snow. Looking back, we had a steely prospect of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, Sgurr na Spainteach and Saileag above the Glen Shiel forestry. The strange gray light made these peaks, which tower so massively above the glen, look oddly small and subdued.

ImageIMG_5170 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The inevitable happened and the cloud closed in over Maol Chinn-dearg before we reached the cairn. It started snowing - not heavily, but steadily and relentless, I had hoped to see Gleouraich & Co and Loch Quoich burst on the eye at the summit, but there was just a blanket of gray nothing. More peaks, or more drinking time at the pub? (rhetorical question)

ImageIMG_5184 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

After a couple of excellent pints of Plockton Brewery Ciste Dubh, we ventured out to the loch to catch the last fading light. The snow had stopped, briefly, and Aonach air Chrith's A'Chioch peeped out above a layer of cloud.

ImageIMG_5213 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The next day greeted us with blue skies over fresh snow.

ImageIMG_5243 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

After the previous night's beer, it was obligatory to go for Ciste Dubh today - but first, we lingered by the wintry beauty of the loch shore - from left to right, the hills are Aonach air Chrith / A'Choich, Maol chinn-dearg, Sgurr Coire na Feinne and Sgurr an Doire Leathain.

ImageIMG_5247 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

Then off we went up the boggy path into An Caorann Beag - background hills are much the same as the previous shot, plus Sgurr an Lochain on the right.

ImageIMG_5261 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The sun was soon properly up, the air felt warm, and the valley of An Caorann Beag was looking sparkly and shiny. (But underfoot, it was slushy and slimy). Photo stop, with Sgurr an Fhuarail's Point 843m in the background.

ImageIMG_5274 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The puddle-ridden Bealach a'Choinich at the head of the valley gave a fine backwards view. Apparently "Am Bathach" means "the byre" and from here, this ridge-like hill did look like the gable end of a gigantic cowshed.

ImageIMG_5298 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The convex slopes above the bealach soon converge into the sharp crest of An Cnapach. Definitely crampon time.

ImageIMG_5333 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The reward was a gorgeous view of Mullach Fraoch-Coire and its elegant slopes and ridges.

ImageIMG_5323 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The snowy summit ridge of Ciste Dubh was a delight, with a great view back of our steps along the crest. The skyline behind An Cnapach is Creag a'Mhaim, Druim Shionnach, Spidean Mialach's summit peeping over the top of the ridge, then Aonach air Chrith on the far right.

ImageIMG_5341 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

Close-up of An Cnapach, oops this might actually have been taken slightly lower down the ridge. As before, the Cluanie Inn is just visible in the shadowy dip.

ImageIMG_5334 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

Anyway, we soon reached a point where we could gaze over at Ciste Dubh's grand summit structure.

ImageIMG_5357 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

It seemed a nice spot for a sit down and enjoyment of the view. A'Chralaig is of course the big peak on the left: further away to the right are Ben Tee and Sron a'Choire Ghairbh.

ImageIMG_5372 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

But my favourite view was probably the one over the ridges of Glen Lichd to Sgurrs nan Spainteach, Ciste Duibhe and Carnach.

ImageIMG_5330 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

Another shot of Ciste Dubh with some nice snow shadows in the foreground.

ImageIMG_5346 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

It was around 2pm. We decided to head down: although the summit was close, we are not true "baggers" and we walk mainly for the sake of the views. We guessed that we could have a nice steady descent and maybe see a good sunset over the south Cluanie ridge, which indeed we did.

ImageIMG_5424 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

The next day was like the first: gray, steely and eerily still. We decided on Druim Shionnach as our walk. Here's a view of A'Chioch and its reflection, looking almost unreal.

ImageIMG_5430 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

A good stalker's path led us high up onto the Foxes' Ridge but we managed to lose the path in the snow below the final "nose" of the summit ridge. The background of this shot is part of Sgurr an Fhuarail, then Ciste Dubh, Am Bathach and Mullach Fraoch-Coire / A'Chralaig.

ImageIMG_5490 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

After some discussion and general bimbling, we explored the interesting terrain along to the right of the nose - spot height 847 on some maps. We could go straight ahead into a little shallow upper corrie, but decided to climb the crags on our left instead - it was good fun.

ImageIMG_5462 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

All too soon we were on the summit slopes. The view down Glen Shiel was strangely reminiscent of that on our first day's walk.

ImageIMG_5469 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

We took a few speculative steps along the ridge to Creag a'Mhaim...

ImageIMG_5475 by Tim Pearce, on Flickr

... but as on previous days, the call of a nice late-afternoon pint at the Cluanie was too strong and we returned to the Druim's cairn and followed our nice stalkers' path straight back down to the valley.

Learning Point: if you want to climb more than one hill per day, don't stay at a good pub.
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HalfManHalfTitanium
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 764
Munros:89   Corbetts:10
Grahams:2   Donalds:1
Hewitts:148
Wainwrights:103   
Joined: Mar 11, 2015

Re: Sun and snow at Cluanie

Postby Silverhill » Mon Dec 07, 2015 10:07 pm

Amazing, that mountain hare not moving. It was obviously feeling very confident in its camouflage coat. 8) I really like the almost monochrome pictures of day 1 and 3 and your jackets giving them a splash of colour. Though Ciste Dubh in the sun looks great too. I did this hill last June and it is such a fine peak. I especially liked the sharp ridge.
Staying at a good pub sounds like a brilliant idea!
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Silverhill
 
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Re: Sun and snow at Cluanie

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Tue Dec 08, 2015 8:52 am

Yes, the hare seemed completely un-bothered by us!

Thanks - I too was pleased with the near-monochrome shots - I was surprised that they came out, despite the gloomy weather. I had actually forgotten about this set of photos, I only dug them out when I was thinking about possible walks to do in this area. In March we are going to Invergarry and I'm looking forward to walking in this area again and exploring the Loch Quoich hills - can't wait!
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HalfManHalfTitanium
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 764
Munros:89   Corbetts:10
Grahams:2   Donalds:1
Hewitts:148
Wainwrights:103   
Joined: Mar 11, 2015

Re: Sun and snow at Cluanie

Postby Petr Dakota » Tue Dec 08, 2015 7:37 pm

Some beautiful photos :clap: 8)
It looks great in the snow 8) :D :clap:
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Petr Dakota
Mountain Walker
 
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Joined: Sep 3, 2014
Location: North Lanarkshire

Re: Sun and snow at Cluanie

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:27 pm

Petr Dakota wrote:Some beautiful photos :clap: 8)
It looks great in the snow 8) :D :clap:


Thanks - yes it was a great weekend. Hoping for some similar conditions on the ridges (maybe not lower down) when we return to the area in March!
User avatar
HalfManHalfTitanium
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 764
Munros:89   Corbetts:10
Grahams:2   Donalds:1
Hewitts:148
Wainwrights:103   
Joined: Mar 11, 2015

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