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Beinn Alligin:Horns on the Fourth of July

Beinn Alligin:Horns on the Fourth of July


Postby Walk cycle » Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:05 am

Route description: Beinn Alligin

Munros included on this walk: Sgurr Mor (Beinn Alligin), Tom na Gruagaich (Beinn Alligin)

Date walked: 04/07/2017

Time taken: 6.3 hours

Distance: 11 km

Ascent: 1m

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Day 4: Sgurr Mor (986m) Tom na Gruagaich (922m)


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Beinn Alligin from the carpark

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Eag Dubh and the Horns of Alligin

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Tom na Gruagaich

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Waterfalls

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Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuil

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Bridge

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Path heads to An-t Sail Bheg

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Looking back to Loch Torridon

I've really been in two minds about whether to share this walk. My recollection of the my time on the Horns was unclear and it wasn’t until I looked at the Viewranger track and then followed the timeline of my photos (often blurred too) that I began to get a clearer perspective on the walk.

I am not going to say much about before and after the Horns, as there are already plenty of detailed walk reports on Beinn Alligin. In good conditions Beinn Alligin is a straightforward circular walk, whether you choose an clockwise or anticlockwise (as I did) route. The two Munro summits, Sgurr Mhor at 986m and Tom na Gruagaich at 922m were further additions to my Munro total for that week, but for me that's what they were: pleasing additions, bit players to the three Horns.

Before climbing the Horns of Alligin I was fearful. I was very concerned after watching Youtube videos of the Horns that I would bottle it; which was one of the reasons I was taking the anticlockwise route with the Horns first. What was interesting for me was that even though the walk wasn’t entirely successful I never felt any fear. The image of the Horns from the Sgurr Mor makes them look terrifying.

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The Horns from Sgurr Mor

They are not terrifying.

I was expecting to be crawling on my hands and knees, sweat dripping from my face onto the sandstone hugging the path in a blind panic. Instead I walked with assurance. All the usual caveats apply about wind/rain/ice etc. but in summer conditions with minimal wind I found them absolutely fine.

Except that isn’t completely true. It wasn’t fear or exposure but the scrambling manoeuvres I found troublesome. I have completed one other Grade 1 scramble and that was accompanied on Moel Siabod and that was all ascent.

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An-t Sail Bheg

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Beinn Dearg

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Cairn before the Horns

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Loch Torridon

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Cairn

So here is my 46 minutes on the Horns. The out of focus photos don't really reveal the grandeur of the area but I suppose they capture the reality of my time.

After a snack before tackling the Horns I looked ahead and felt confident, the route up the first Horn appeared to be very easy - 11.23 to 11.31 I must have been particularly confident.

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11.23

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11.23

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11.23

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11.23


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11.31

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11.31

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11.31

It was on reaching the end of the first Horn, with the prospect of the scramble down what seemed like a short chimney, that I became less sure. I tried to shuffle down finding footholds with my back against the rock but found that the rucksack was awkward and obstructive. I also put a lot of weight on my right arm which did hurt, so I stopped and re-ascended. I then decided to lower my rucksack to the ground below. What a mistake. Dropped would have been more accurate. Time slowed as the rucksack fell to the ground and rolled and rolled and rolled....and stopped; I had clearly not learnt my lesson from Beinn Eighe about keeping hold of gear. At that moment the walk changed for me. I scrambled down with my chest against the rock and it was fine. I picked up my bag but some of my earlier confidence had gone. Heading directly to the second Horn I remember coming up against a steep face with few footholds. I did attempt to get up but came down. I am sure I could have got up but I was concerned about the descent from the second Horn. From reading other reports since it would appear I should have ascended to the left (some of you might advise here). As my Viewranger track shows I took the bypass path. I did feel disappointed and I didn't start taking photos again until the descent route of the second Horn.

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Suggested route in blue,my route in black


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11.46

From then on the ascent and descent of the third Horn was straightforward. Reflecting on the experience I think I would have benefitted from being with someone else, perhaps to give encouragement in places. I carried on and the photos show the rest of my walk.

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11.59

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11.59

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11.59

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12.05

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12.09

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The ridge to Tom na Gruagaich from Sgurr Mor

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View to Skye

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Torridon panorama

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Clefthanger

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Summit of Tom na Grugaich

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Rain

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Moody corrie

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Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuil

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Na Fasreidhnean and Tom na Gruagaich

So not quite the day I was expecting and it gives me a lot of food for thought. It might not have seemed dramatic but I think this was quite a significant walk for me. In the moment of attempting the second Horn I retreated, but it felt right at the time to do that. I intend to return and climb the Horns in a clockwise direction.
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Re: Beinn Alligin:Horns on the Fourth of July

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:35 pm

Reading your story brings back memories. Beinn Alligin is my husband's favourite hill - he's been up it multiple times, different routes, different weather. I couldn't understand what the fuss was about till I did the full traverse (Horns first like you) myself. A very special mountain it is :D

I think I remember that chimney on the second horn, I struggled to find any good foothold on the way down and my rucksack was too big and so annoying! Had to face the rock, and then it was easy. Funny, Kevin had no problem reaching down, but he's 6 feet tall (having long limbs really helps scrambling :lol: ). Overall, I really liked the Horns, the middle one is probably the most difficult.
This snap shows the first two Horns and the bypass path from above - it does look scary, doesn't it?
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Call us mad, but we are seriously thinking about traversing Alligin in winter conditions :shock:
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