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Three days on Skye

Three days on Skye

Postby weaselmaster » Thu Apr 07, 2016 7:07 pm

Munros included on this walk: Bruach na Frithe

Corbetts included on this walk: Garbh-bheinn (Skye)

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Dearg Mhor (Broadford), Beinn na Caillich (Broadford), Belig

Date walked: 06/04/2016

Time taken: 17.75 hours

Distance: 34 km

Ascent: 3287m

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A family reunion for my father-in-law took us en familie to the Clan Donald Centre in Skye for a wee break in the Easter holidays. I was pleased as punch - no shortage of things for me to do on Skye :clap: We drove up in mixed weather on Sunday and checked into the centre - all very comfortable and good for a multi-generational get together. The "young 'uns" had a couple of lodges while us older folk had 2 suites in the visitor centre. It transpired, on chatting after dinner, that some of the "young 'uns" were interested in coming along with me up a hill the following day. Mmmm - how was that going to go? I'd planned to take in the pair or Grahams outside Broadford - Beinn na Caillich and Beinn Dearg Mhor. The terrain looked interesting but not overly taxing and the weather forecast sounded semi-promising. I informed them that if they wanted to come along, we'd be leaving at 7.30 - any later and I'm away without you...

Rather to my surprise, all six of those who had chosen to come along turned up by the alloted time and we set off in drizzle and clag. The start of this walk is down a farm lane at Old Corry and we parked up just before the bridge and got set to go. I really had no idea what to expect - I'd taken my boy out on a couple of occasions in the distant past and he had shown little interest in hills - what would he be like today, especially if the weather wasn't great? He had his girlfriend, his cousins and their men to keep him company, so I was hoping it would be a bearable - or even enjoyable - experience.

Start of the walk
ImageP1120553 by Al, on Flickr

Today's crew...
ImageP1120554 by Al, on Flickr

The first section of the route is boggy and slowly ascends. After all my recent Donalds with their 300-400m starts it was quite a change to be back at a sea-level starting point. We followed a vague path up the side of the burn to about 200m, where the ground becomes more rocky underfoot. Progress was painfully slow - however I was keen to keep the group together and had tasked my neice, who does outdoorsy things with her pupils at school - to bring up the rear while I led. Not everyone was happy on the larger rocky scree and took some coaxing up the rougher bits.

ImageP1120556 by Al, on Flickr

There was lots of this..
ImageP1120559 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120563 by Al, on Flickr

Weasel Minor
ImageP1120564 by Al, on Flickr

Kylerhea Grahams
ImageP1120566 by Al, on Flickr

Nearing the first summit
ImageP1120571 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120575 by Al, on Flickr

After 2 hours we'd come only 2km and were not yet at the summit - thank the lord it was only an 8km outing! Finally we reached the summit of Beinn na Caillich and there was real jubilation from the crew that they'd managed. We did some group photos at the summit then began the descent down to 557 on the ridge between Coire Gorm and Coire Reidh. This is quite a striking vista, Bla Bheinn was in the backdrop but unfortunately the remainder of the Black Cuillin were under cloud cover.

Summit Beinn na Caillich
ImageP1120586 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120584 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Bla Bheinn
ImageP1120588 by Al, on Flickr

Ridge to Beinn Dearg Mhor (and Bheag to L)
ImageP1120590 by Al, on Flickr

There was some murmuring of concern about the steepness of the descent off Beinn Dearg Mhor, but that could wait til after lunch. The summit of Graham number 2 was reached without incident and again with much jubilation - it's quite nice having folk that don't do hills regularly to expose to the wonders of the hillside.

ImageP1120592 by Al, on Flickr

Trooping towards Beinn Dearg Mhor
ImageP1120598 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120600 by Al, on Flickr

Down towards Dearg Bheag
ImageP1120603 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Dearg Mhor
ImageP1120606 by Al, on Flickr

Clach Glas traverse
ImageP1120610 by Al, on Flickr

Everyone had their lunch and we started to get a little cold in the wind. It had turned out a better day weatherwise than the forecast had predictled. Next it was down the scree to Bealach Coire Sgreamhach - it was much easier underfoot than it had looked earlier and I guided them down. All seemed to be going well, everyone relatively comfortable with the descent, so I headed down the second half of the hillside quickly - I do like a bit of a scree dash. Looking back up from the bealach I can see that one of the girls looks to be in trouble and keeps falling down on her bum - serves me right for going off - I run back up the slope to where she is and give her my poles, which helps a lot and she regains her confidence to descend. There's a small ascent to Beinn Dearg Bheag then a gentle descent along the sweeping eastern ridge into Coire Beithe. The going becomes a bit boggy over the remaining section and not everyone is entirely chuffed with that, but we make it back to the cars, all in one piece and the "young 'uns" all excited with what they've achieved. My boy tells me it's the sort of thing he could see himself doing "three times a year" so maybe that's progress :lol:

Descent to Bheag
ImageP1120611 by Al, on Flickr

Top of Bheag
ImageP1120618 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120620 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120622 by Al, on Flickr

Young legs tiring
ImageP1120625 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120624 by Al, on Flickr

First Time Corbett Boys
On Tuesday I had though of doing the Kylerhea Grahams. However, two of yesterday's company - the fittest two lads - had expressed interest in coming with me again. This forced a rethink. I wanted to give them something more memorable. I had Belig to do, and I thought it would be worthwhile seeing how they handled that, if they felt OK then we could continue of over Garbh Bheinn. If the weather played ball - it was meant to be sunny after 10am. Certainly wasn't sunny as we drove off at 7am - claggy and drizzly, bit disappointing. We parked up on the long layby at the side of Loch Ainort and walked down to the bridge, where there's a rudimentary path that boggily makes its way up the side of the Abhainn Ceann Loch Ainort. After around 300m we got to the start of the scree. Both lads were keeping up a good pace, if a little puffed at times. We made it up the scree to the northern ridge of Belig and continued over grassy slopes to the cairn. So far so good. Things get a bit more exposed on the steep descent - there's a wall to follow but it is quite narrow in places near the top. They both seemed comfortable enough with the bit of exposure. I wasn't sure about going onto Garbh Bheinn, mostly cos of the weather - still claggy and a bit wet. I remembered there were airy sections before and after the summit and would have liked better weather to have attemped this. We had a confab at the Bealach na Beiste. Both lads seemed keen to go on, at least for another 10 minutes or so to see if the weather lifted. As we made that decsion it hit 10am and the clag suddenly started to clear - not completely but we could at least see something of our surroundings.

ImageP1120627 by Al, on Flickr

Towards the N ridge of Belig
ImageP1120629 by Al, on Flickr

Up the scree
ImageP1120630 by Al, on Flickr

Easier going towards summit
ImageP1120632 by Al, on Flickr

Belig summit
ImageP1120634 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120637 by Al, on Flickr

Mist starting to clear
ImageP1120639 by Al, on Flickr

Buoyed by this upturn, we all cracked on up the steep scree slopes of Garbh Bheinn. The lads were feeling it more now, I was comfortable and kept them to a good pace, didn't want them getting cold. Around 650m we started to get onto more challenging terrain as we met the beginnings of the NE ridge. Again they seemed to be handling the exposure well - I checked the way and talked them through where to step their confidence appeared intact. After a time we made the narrow summit itself and they stopped for a bite to eat. Three hours - not bad for novices. I remembered some exposed sections to come along the summit ridge and we pressed on carefully. A bit more serious here, but again a confident word worked well and they managed with spirit and determination. Both appeared exilharated as we made it down to the safer scree slopes on the NW shoulder. The clag started to clear a bit giving some views back to where we'd been and I could tell they were both impressed with their adventure. Trotting down towards Druim Eadar Da Choire they were nattering away with excitement. We stopped for food then made it back down over a very watery path back to the cars. A great day out, I was impressed with the way they both handled their first Corbett - and quite a respectable Corbett at that :D

Two knackered twenty-somethings...
ImageP1120644 by Al, on Flickr

Getting narrower approaching Garbh Bheinn top
ImageP1120645 by Al, on Flickr

Having fun...honest!
ImageP1120646 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120648 by Al, on Flickr

Garbh Bheinn summit
ImageP1120649 by Al, on Flickr

Celebrating a first Corbett
ImageP1120650 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120651 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120652 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120653 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120655 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120656 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120659 by Al, on Flickr

View back to Garbh Bheinn
ImageP1120673 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120675 by Al, on Flickr

Belig/Garbh Bheinn
ImageP1120676 by Al, on Flickr

Mark & Daniel pleased as punch with their mountain day
ImageP1120677 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120678 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120679 by Al, on Flickr

The remainder of the day was spent visiting the Fairy Pools, then I took a drive down to Glen Brittle Campsite in the hope of getting some views of the Cuillin under snow - unfortunately the clag kept the tops under wraps with some tantalising glimpses of Alasdair, Sgumain and MhicCoinnich. I drove back to meet the rest of the clan at Talisker, where there were some good views of the ridge from the harbour at Carbost. It was too nice a night to head home early, so we drove up to the Trotternish Ridge and Staffin to enjoy the relatively uncommon sight of Skye in sunshine. Fish and chips at the Sligachan rounded of the day perfectly.

Sgurr an Fheadain at the Fairy Pools
ImageP1120682 by Al, on Flickr

Change is afoot at Glen Brittle Campsite
ImageP1120684 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120692 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120693 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120697 by Al, on Flickr

View from Carbost Pier
ImageP1120701 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120703 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120708 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120710 by Al, on Flickr

Driving to Staffin
ImageP1120716 by Al, on Flickr

Ally & Lisa at Kilt Rock
ImageP1120720 by Al, on Flickr

Tea at the Slig
ImageP1120721 by Al, on Flickr

It's Still Winter in Fionn Choire
For the final day I had decided I wanted to do a Munro - all the enjoyment of Garbh Bheinn had got my juices going. The forecast was for showers and brisk winds, which wasn't brilliant but I did want to see the Cuillin in snow first hand and had made up my mind. Bruath na Frithe had been chosen - I was quite keen to add on Sgurr a'Bhasteir too if possible (a SIMM) and set off with only a modicum of trepidation on my own - I was not going to be taking any halflings along today. I parked up at the white cottage layby at around 8am and prepared for the off. Weather was a mix of cloud and glimpses of blue sky, but it looked like the tops were going to be in clag today. I was feeling a bit slow and tired - however I was sure this would be walked off soon. Good views to Beinn Dearg and Glamaig as I walked in, with the jagged ridge of Clach Glas just popping out under the clouds. No-one else about today, a contrast to the hordes we met last time up here.

Start of the walk
ImageP1120723 by Al, on Flickr

Marsco, Bla Bheinn behind
ImageP1120727 by Al, on Flickr

Walking into Fionn Choire
ImageP1120729 by Al, on Flickr

I could see lots of snow up ahead as I walked into the coire mouth and as I got to around 600m the snow became deep and plentiful. I had had misgivings about coming into the coire before I set off and the heavily laden coire walls did nothing to diminish this. I followed some footprints in the snow, which made the going somewhat easier. At 730m I saw a lot of avalanche debris over to my right. There looked to be a run of maybe 1-200m of the stuff and that was enough to confirm my suspicions that Fionn Choire was not the place to be today. The flanks of Sgurr a'Bhasteir were also heavily loaded, so no safe way up that side. I turned around and headed back out of the coire. At first I decided I'd just go haome, or maybe hit a Graham instead. But my interest in climbing a white-coated Cuillin was still strong. I stopped for a cup of coffee and some thought time. I looked up at the side of the NW ridge of Bruath na Frithe - there was an expanse of predominantly rock which looked safe-ish as far as avalanche risk was concerned, and the map suggested I could thread between crags and reach the ridge crest. Packing up my poles and grasping my ice-axe I headed steeply up over boulders initially. I came to a section of steep snow under a crag which I'd have to cross to reach the crest - OK let's do it. After maybe 50m I was rounding the crest and the mountain was back on the menu.

Avalanche debris - time to go
ImageP1120730 by Al, on Flickr

Head up to the ridge this way
ImageP1120732 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120733 by Al, on Flickr

Nearly at the ridge crest
ImageP1120734 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120735 by Al, on Flickr

Looking into Fionn Choire - maybe you can see the avalanche activity
ImageP1120739 by Al, on Flickr

Looking southwest - Mhadaidh?
ImageP1120740 by Al, on Flickr

Continuing upwards
ImageP1120741 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120743 by Al, on Flickr

Back up to the crest
ImageP1120744 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120745 by Al, on Flickr

Getting near now
ImageP1120746 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120747 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120748 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120749 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120750 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120751 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120760 by Al, on Flickr

Red Cuillin
ImageP1120761 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120762 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120765 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120767 by Al, on Flickr
I had descended this way in summer conditions and enjoyed every minute of it. However, ascending in today's weather was another matter. For a time I stuck to the ridge crest, sometimes seeing old footprints. As the ridge became steeper I started to feel a bit anxious and decided I'd try the bypass route. This was a mistake. Initially it was easy enough to see the faint outline of a path. However soon the white wall to my left soared upwards and the snow I was on became steeper. It was a long way down and I guessed if I did slip I would bring rather a lot of snow down on top of me. I could feel my anxiety rising further. Moves that would normally have been simple became suddenly complex and tortuous. My confidence was draining away by the minute and I thought about retreating. There were several traverses over steep snow sections to accomplish - kicking steps in thick soft snow and plunging my axe shaft in to anchor me. After a grim 20 minutes or so I was in no-man's land between the bypass route (which had disappeared long since under deep snow) and the crest. It made little sense to linger here so I sucked my spirit in and headed up towards the crest. After some more iffy moments I gained the security of good rock underfoot and my nerves eased. At around 850m I suddenly got a view of the peak rising blackly into the sky - imposing from this angle. I wasn;t done with thoughts of turning back :wink: By around 900m the snow was starting to form an ice crust, although still easily kicked through. A final wall of black rock and white snow with icy edges and I could make out the top of the trig point poking onto the skyline. Almost there. A few more moves and there I was, my first winter Cuillin summit.

I didn't hang about, knowing I had little option but to return the way I'd come. The wind was starting up and sent some hailstones to welcome me to the top. I decided I'd keep to the crest on the way down - this proved a good idea. I also put my crampons on - not that the snow really merited them, but they added a degree of security and grip, which helped my nerves. I followed my own footsteps down, coming to a couple of tricky sections in descent which were only tricky with low confidence. However as I worked my way down I started enjoying the experience more and more. I remembered the exilharation Allison and I felt when we came off this ridge a couple of years back - our first proper Skye scrambling. I knew I could manage it today. I was sorry when I passed the point I'd come up from the coire as that meant the ridge was almost at an end. I continued along the crest til it became grassy then descended off the gentle scree slopes back out to the mouth of Fionn Choire where I stopped for lunch. The weather was worsening however, with gusty winds and sheets of hailstones which stung any exposed skin. Glad I'd got down before the weather changed I drank my coffee and reflected on the day.

The walk out was fine - feet wet but not cold, nerves recovered. I met a young chap sauntering by with a rather unladen looking rucksack. No ice axe. He said he was going up Bruath na Frithe and that the weather was improving. I suggested he avoid the coire and doubted his assessment of the conditions (it came on really heavy rain/snow for the next hour or so, then brightened up for a bit). Back at the car I changed my footwear and headed back for a bit of a rest. A delightful way to end the few days away - and whetted my appetite for my next trip up to Skye...
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Hill Bagger
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Re: Three days on Skye

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:52 am

Looks like a great few days, even better to share it with family and friends.

The place looks scarier covered in snow!
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Mal Grey
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Re: Three days on Skye

Postby dav2930 » Fri Apr 08, 2016 9:42 pm

Looked a great trip. It's amazing how a relatively mild scramble can be transformed by snow and ice into something much more serious; that would have felt pretty exposed up there I imagine.

Btw the photo looking across to what you thought might be Sgurr a' Mhadaidh is actually of Bidean Druim nan Ramh (the former being just to its right).
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Location: Cumbria

Re: Three days on Skye

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Apr 08, 2016 11:55 pm

Cracking report, WM. I love to see the seed being planted in the penumbra of young minds.

Some really great pics too.

I must say, the Cuillin looks brilliant in winter; and as Dav293o says, a whole lot more serious.

Hope to get on to the ridge this summer; then maybe something in winter....
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Re: Three days on Skye

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Apr 10, 2016 7:43 pm

dav2930 wrote:Btw the photo looking across to what you thought might be Sgurr a' Mhadaidh is actually of Bidean Druim nan Ramh (the former being just to its right).

Thanks for the clarification - it's a bit of the ridge I haven't yet made it onto. Looks tasty though :D
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Posts: 1922
Munros:217   Corbetts:44
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Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

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