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Cul Mor - The Reason Why?

Cul Mor - The Reason Why?

Postby jmcsporran » Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:09 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Cùl Mòr

Date walked: 04/07/2017

Time taken: 20 hours

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Cul Mor - The Reason Why?
Cul Mor Selfie 1.jpg
Morning on Cul Mor

Having previously wild camped on Suilven and Stac Pollaidh, Cul Mor the ‘big lump’ seen from both those mountains appeared to present fantastic photography opportunities and I waited for a weather window to try my luck.
I left my home and travelled north: Stirling – dreich, Perth – dreich, Aviemore – not bad, on the A9 and down towards Inverness – not too bad. Garve – glorious, Ullapool, glorious. Won a watch here I thought. In my humble opinion (why do these youngsters have to abbreviate everything – IMHO), Scotland has 3 types of weather: Dreich, Not Bad and Glorious. I find Glorious happens for two weeks of the year but not all at the same time and not always in the same location – 15 minutes here, 2 hours there, etc.

Parked at the lay-by near Knockan Crag for the stalkers path towards Cul Mor, dragged my pack out of the car, struggled to get it on. Camping and photography on top of mountains is a real pain, the amount of gear you have to take is quite frightening. Set off and after 30 minutes I was cursing all the weight and asking myself why do I do this? As I rounded the side of the hill on the stalkers path Suilven came into sight with some nice clouds floating over it and back towards Elphin – a quick photo opportunity.
Elphin from Cul Mor 5 July 2017 - 1.jpg
The view back to Elphin

Suilven from Cul Mor 4 July 2017 - 2.jpg

As I reached the top of Meallan Diomhain where the paths split I could see that the weather was beginning to turn nasty. Looking south towards Cul Beag there was some serious rain showers blowing over. So much for the Met Office weather forecast of clear blue skies and sunny conditions all day. They have (allegedly) improved their forecasting for Scotland’s mountains recently. Sometimes I wonder whether this consists of a guy taking a look out of a north facing window in the Glasgow weather centre and guessing what’s over the horizon.
Cul Mor 4 July 2017 - 1.jpg

Up the shoulder of the mountain through the boulder field was a real struggle and the weight of my pack meant frequent stops. Why do I do this? As I reached the top I could see a big rain front heading directly towards me. Down to the bealach, then it hit. Driving rain, then hail, I got soaked. I tried to hide behind some rocks, not enough space, so I opted to protect my rucksack rather than me – skin is waterproof, camera gear, etc. takes priority.

Bad weather can equal good photo opportunities and as soon as the rain front moved onwards, there were some glorious sights southwards towards Cul Beag, Stac Pollaidh, The Fiddler, Sgorr Tuath, etc.
Cul Mor 4 July 2017 - 19.jpg
After the Rain (and Hail)

Cul Mor 4 July 2017 - 2.jpg
South to Cul Beag and Stac Pollaidh

I planned on camping right on the edge of Sron Gharbh (the big bit that sticks out north westwards) so that I had an unobstructed panorama, but it is a long plod to that point and I got there in the end. 4 hours in total from car park to campsite. Why do I do this?
Cul Mor drone.jpg
My campsite - tent extreme bottom of photo

Got the tent up, one door aligned with the view of Stac Pollaidh, the other towards Canisp but weighted down with rocks to afford wind protection, gear unpacked and time for coffee. The clothes I was wearing were soaked but there was a strong wind and as I walked about taking photos I dried out.

The sunset was a bit disappointing but the views were fantastic and I spent 2-3 hours simply taking photos, including the obligatory ‘tent on a mountain’ shots.
Cul Mor 4 July 2017 - 18.jpg
Sunset from Cul Mor

Cul Mor 4 July 2017 - 10.jpg
Another sunset shot

Cul Mor 4 July 2017 - 14.jpg
Stac Pollaidh at sunset

Wild camp on Cul Mor 2.jpg
Wild Camp on Cul Mor

By 11PM I was in the tent with my evening meal – some stodge that was probably meatballs and pasta on a good day – but that day had long gone. I made an ar$e of cooking it and it was lukewarm but I ate it anyway. Then coffee, a nice cigar and a hip flask of Dalwhinnie Winter Gold malt whisky – seemed appropriate for summer in Scotland – as I watched the light fade over Stac Pollaidh. Bed by midnight, alarm set for 4AM. I sometimes have trouble sleeping when camping but this time I slept like a log – I was knackered.

4AM alarm. Oh God, is it that time already? I quick peek out the tent to see a fantastic sunrise in the offing over Canisp and Suilven. quickly dressed, up and out. 3 hours taking photos and drone videos.
Cul Mor 4 July 2017 - 34.jpg
Sunrise over Suilven - 4AM

Cul Mor 4 July 2017 - 36.jpg
Sunrise over Canisp

Stac Pollaidh drone 5 July 2017 - 2.jpg
Stac Pollaidh and its shadow

Then breakfast, got the cooking right this time - all day breakfast with six cups of coffee. Time for some obligatory 'selfie' photos - but always following my 'Selfie Rules'. 1. Never look at the camera. 2. No close ups. 3. Take it at an iconic location - tops of mountains are good. 4. Try to look heroic - even though you're knackered.
Cul Mor Selfie 2.jpg
The obligatory selfie looking towards Suilven

Cul Mor 4 July 2017 - 20.jpg
South to Cul Beag, the Coigach mountains and Stac Pollaidh

Then more photos as the scenery just kept getting better and better. Packed up by 8:30 AM for the long trudge back. Enroute I met Dave Miles from Newcastle who had camped on a spur below the peak of Creag nan Calman and his tent gave more photo ops. Spent about 20 mins chatting to Dave who planned to camp somewhere that night and I suggested Stac Pollaidh where I camped last October. I later discovered he had taken my suggestion as he posted photos of his tent on the eastern summit.
Dave on Cul Mor 2.jpg
Is there a better place to wild camp?

Dave on Cul Mor 3.jpg
Dave Miles on Cul Mor

Took the alternative route down which is much easier, there is a good worn path to follow but it doesn’t always line up with the .gpx file I had downloaded on WalkHighlands (I've attached my version). Should have taken this route up as I don’t climb to reach summits but only climb for photography. I find some mountains are boring so I only do them once, some not at all, some are really great and I climb them numerous times. I’m not a ‘Munro Bagger’. I respect those who are, but its not my thing. Buachaille Etive Beag is a much finer photo location than Buachaille Etive Mor, so I’ve climbed BEB about 12 times and BEM only about 5, however Beinn a’Chrulaiste which looks onto them across the A82 beats both so I’ve been up it numerous times, usually mid-winter in the dark to catch sunrise. Sgurr na Stri on Skye is Britain’s finest viewpoint but its not a Munro or even a Corbett or a Graham. Ben A’an in the Trossachs is dismissed by many and insultingly called a ‘pimple’ (by some), but its one of Scotland’s best viewpoints (next time up will be No.46). Pays your money takes your choice.

3 hours back to the car and a 5 hour drive home. Stood in the hottest shower I could stand, then ‘pigged out’ on unhealthy options and lots of red wine.

Looking at the photos, I know the answer to my question – why do I do this. The reason why is obvious. One of my photo's even made it into the world's top ten on Flickr and I managed to pass the 7 million hits mark - but I didn't think it was the best shot I'd taken that day.
Cul Mor 4 July 2017 - 23.jpg
The Reason Why?

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Last edited by jmcsporran on Sun Jul 09, 2017 10:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cul Mor - The Reason Why?

Postby litljortindan » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:01 pm

Fantastic pictures, especially the one with pre-sunset underlit cloud. And not a bad sunrise.
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Re: Cul Mor - The Reason Why?

Postby wilkiemurray » Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:03 pm

Absolutely magic John- camped up here last year (I think) and it was amazing ( didn't get great weather if memory serves me right - but still a great place to spend the night). Great photos as always :) look forward to seeing more on Flickr :)


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Re: Cul Mor - The Reason Why?

Postby trekpete » Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:33 pm

A great trip John and the photos make it well worth while. I sure don't know how you manage to get uphill with the weight of your pack mind you.
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Re: Cul Mor - The Reason Why?

Postby spiderwebb » Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:04 pm

Beautiful, stunning photography :D
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Re: Cul Mor - The Reason Why?

Postby hopper68 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 6:15 pm

Excellent photos, when you get results like that its worthwhile carrying the heavier pack ..cheers
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