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Stac Pollaidh, 'By Fair Means'

Stac Pollaidh, 'By Fair Means'


Postby roscoT » Tue May 10, 2016 5:59 pm

Route description: Stac Pollaidh ridge and circuit

Grahams included on this walk: Stac Pollaidh

Date walked: 06/05/2016

Time taken: 2.5 hours

Distance: 6.2 km

Ascent: 615m

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Reinhold Messner probably never climbed the little pile of Stac Pollaidh, but if he did, I'm sure he would've insisted on doing it firstly without bottled oxygen (easy), and secondly to the true summit (not so easy) :lol: With a little bit of help, Euan and I achieved both on an evening which will live long in the memory, proving that a mountain's height or the effort required to climb it is not always in proportion to the reward it bestows upon you.

Coming quickly off of Ben Wyvis, driving towards Ullapool the sky started to clear of clouds and, as the strange jarring shapes of the mountains of this area became fully visible, it was clear we were in for a treat. Layers of atmosphere a brilliant blue above, the air was warm but for a occasionally bracing breeze, 'the little weirdo' as I have seen it called, standing above us from the car park.

ImageSgorr Tuath from the road by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020374 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

The path leading off to the right below the lower side of Stac Pollaidh's ridge ascends quickly, and we were sweating and breathing heavily until, thankfully, shade was reached behind the mountain. Quite suddenly, Cul Mor, Canisp and Suilven appeared in brilliant technicolour above the myriad of small lochs so familiar to Assynt. Amazing.

ImageP1020378 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageCul Mor by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageSuilven by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageEuan by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageMe by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Again, at once when the ridge is reached, my breath was taken away by views in all directions, to the sea in the west, Coigach to the south, and the stunning hills to the east and north. We took turns walking the (very dodgy) path and up a little cleft to the most easterly point of the ridge, getting some nice long shots with a sense of scale.

ImageP1020394 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020397 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imageto sea by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020404 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020406 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imageeuan and cul beag by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020412 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imagesuilven, canisp and loch sionascaig by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageAn Teallach? by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

When we returned to our bags at the first cairn, we had been joined by a group of 4 people, who started in the direction of the 'true' summit, looking back suggestively at us. We had not really thought about doing the full ridge, WH had suggested it was perhaps too advanced for novices like us. Eventually, one of the group asked us if we were coming up, and helpfully said we could follow them. My decision was made, but Euan, who has been known to suffer from vertigo in his latter years, seemed unsure. We decided if there were any parts beyond our capabilities, we would turn back.

The next 30 minutes was some of the most fun I have ever had on the hills :D - First, shimmying up a chimney, then traversing across, around and over various boulders for around 500m, before finally going around the final tower and squeezing up and through an awkward gap to the summit proper. Congratulated by our interim guides, the views were ample reward, and despite Euan's sweaty palms, he was happy to admit it was worth it.

ImageP1020418 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageFirst chimney by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imagedodgy bit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imagetight squeeze by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imageloch lurgainn and cul beag by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imagetrue summit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020440 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

We chatted for about 15 minutes with the family from nearby, who had climbed up here countless times, before thoughts turned to the return route and getting to Inchnadamph for dinner and a well-deserved beer. The return over the ridge was more difficult to navigate and get back to our bags, particularly reversing down the chimney, where one wrong foot could have spelled disaster. Descending then back the way we came in the shade, we then took a left round the other side to complete the circuit. Our legs would not thank us for 20K and 2000m of ascent in one day in the morning, but this was but a distant thought as darkness descended, wine flowed, and three more days of the same lay ahead :D

Imagechimney descent by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020445 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020451 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Last edited by roscoT on Wed May 11, 2016 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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roscoT
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Re: Stac Pollaidh, By Fair Means

Postby jacob » Tue May 10, 2016 7:36 pm

Not a very original thing to say, but Stac Pollaidh is a real little beauty. Our first Scottish hill, so warm memories. Nice report. Well spent day with Wyvis in one run :clap:
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Re: Stac Pollaidh, By Fair Means

Postby Gordie12 » Tue May 10, 2016 8:18 pm

Did a few hills in this area last September/October and planning to go back this year for at least this one and Suilven - can't imagine I'll be as lucky with the weather, that looked superb.
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Re: Stac Pollaidh, By Fair Means

Postby roscoT » Tue May 10, 2016 8:26 pm

jacob wrote:Not a very original thing to say, but Stac Pollaidh is a real little beauty. Our first Scottish hill, so warm memories. Nice report. Well spent day with Wyvis in one run :clap:


Cheers Jacob, a great 'wee hill' indeed! Can't think of a better introduction to Scotland

Gordie12 wrote:Did a few hills in this area last September/October and planning to go back this year for at least this one and Suilven - can't imagine I'll be as lucky with the weather, that looked superb.


Good stuff Gordie! As our luck would have it, we got even better conditions for Suilven (climbed yesterday). Tales of Ben More Assynt, Conival and Quinag also to come, watch this space... 8)
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roscoT
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Re: Stac Pollaidh, By Fair Means

Postby Gordie12 » Tue May 10, 2016 8:32 pm

Hope you enjoyed Quinag, had a great day there last October.
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Re: Stac Pollaidh, By Fair Means

Postby roscoT » Tue May 10, 2016 8:38 pm

Gordie12 wrote:Hope you enjoyed Quinag, had a great day there last October.


What an amazing mountain it is. Away to re-read your report now :)
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Re: Stac Pollaidh, By Fair Means

Postby Alteknacker » Tue May 10, 2016 10:00 pm

What an amazing place, and what an amazing day you had for it! Some really brilliant pictures here. :clap: :clap: :clap:

Assynt is still on my list of "to do's", and every time I see pics of it, the desire grows (the only bummer is that it's 12 hours away...)

SP, Suilven, the Cobbler - all wonderful hills, hills to dream of; and none of them Munros....
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Re: Stac Pollaidh, By Fair Means

Postby weaselmaster » Tue May 10, 2016 10:36 pm

Great weather for it...I haven't made the true summit yet, so need to follow in your footsteps sometime soon.
Looks like you had a fine time
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Re: Stac Pollaidh, By Fair Means

Postby BobMcBob » Tue May 10, 2016 10:47 pm

Height means nothing, this is one of the best and most fun hills anywhere. :) It always cheers my heart to read about people pushing themselves a bit further and reaping the rewards because that's everything the mountains are about for me. Really enjoyed this read. :clap:
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Re: Stac Pollaidh, 'By Fair Means'

Postby Jaxter » Wed May 11, 2016 10:53 pm

Oooh that looked wonderful - what a perfect evening, and glad you managed to get the whole way :clap: :D

Can't wait to get to there - WH meet in July not far away now!! :D :D
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