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Winter Perfection on Slioch!

Winter Perfection on Slioch!


Postby Magoo82 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:43 pm

Route description: Slioch, near Kinlochewe

Munros included on this walk: Slioch

Date walked: 12/01/2018

Time taken: 8.5 hours

Distance: 19 km

Ascent: 1144m

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My week at work had been going just as usual, beavering away with the occasional peek at weather forecasts for the weekend. But by Wednesday it was becoming clear that Friday was going to be the day to be up the hills. I spoke to my thankfully very accommodating manager who signed off a day's annual leave and I was ready to start making plans.

Initially I had looked at Beinn Mhanach in the central highlands but by Thursday afternoon the message from the weather forecasts seemed to be "the further north you go the better it'll be". So with that in mind I set the alarm for 3am and resolved to drive north in the morning to Kinlochewe for an ascent of Slioch.

I was out of Dundee by 4am and the sky was still dark as I drove over the bealach with the Kinlochewe viewpoint. However, by the time I was parked up, boots on and ready to go, dawn had begun to break. And I was treated to one of those mornings you often get in the north of Scotland at this time of year when the sky is a lovely pinky/orangey hue and the colours are imparted upon the white snow-topped mountains.

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

The path alongside the river was very good but i'd imagine it could get very boggy and slippery in summer owing to its proximity to the water and the fact that it's more or less at sea level. Thankfully in deepest January it was frozen over so no such issues were encountered!

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

It didn't seem like long before the loch was reached although a look at my watch showed it had taken an hour and a quarter to hike the five or so kilometres from the car park to the bridge where the ascent begins. A fair bit of that time was spent admiring and photographing the wildlife and the loch though.

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

Once the bridge is reached the hard work begins. There's a reasonably good path up the hillside but again I was aided by it being frozen solid and I suspect it's something of a quagmire in the spring and summer.

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

The name of the game here is to plot a course roughly north north-east using Sgurr Dubh and Meall Each as your goalposts and ascending up inbetween them to arrive at Coire na Sleaghaich. All fine in theory but the route up was quite badly iced over so a bit of care and attention was required and I wasn't overly looking forwards to descending it later on. Nevertheless I ploughed on, watched intently by some curious deer, and once the Coire was reached it was a delight, taking on an other-worldly appearance with its snowy attire.

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

From here the route up to the two small lochans is steep and pretty obvious so there's not a lot to be done other than crack on with it. I could see from the footsteps that the last person there had worn crampons but there was enough give in the snow for me to keep the crampons in my pack and just kick in using the ice axe for balance and the frozen loch was reached soon enough.

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

The bulk of the ascent was now behind me but with the snow and the gradient slowing me down I found the climb from the lochan to the subsidiary 900m top to be a trial and my legs were beginning to cramp up so I paused to take a couple of photos before resuming.

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

From the 900m top it's another short, stiff climb up to the trig point then a short hop across to the true summit where the views over Torridon, Fisherfield and Loch Maree made all the effort feel worthwhile.

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

The wind was beginning to bite so I didn't hang around on the summit for long. I retreated to a spot just below the 900m top where there was a bit of shelter from the wind and wolfed down a sausage roll and a Wispa Gold whilst admiring the view of the frozen lochan from high above.

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

The descent on the snow was speedy as I was able to dig my heels in and motor down the slope. I was slowed down a bit on the iced over path sections that law near the snowline but there were no real difficulties and I was soon back at the loch.

I had seen nobody on the hill all day and my car was the only one in the car park. But the advantage of this is that there was nobody there but me to scare the wildlife away so I passed a few stagsand odd-looking wild mountain goats on the return route.

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

ImageSlioch by Ross McGowan, on Flickr

By the time I reached the car it was last light. I'd been on the march for eight and a half hours and had needed every minute of daylight granted to me. This is a pretty tough slog in winter conditions but goodness me it's worth it for views and wildlife like that. A day's annual leave well used and a hike that will live long in the memory :D
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Magoo82
Hill Bagger
 
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Re: Winter Perfection on Slioch!

Postby Mal Grey » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:18 pm

Nice one. :clap: Its a long old day in winter. We had similar conditions many years ago, but the very top was in the clouds. We also saw lots of stags.

There's something slightly primitive (evil!) looking about the wild goats along that side of Maree!
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Mal Grey
Mountain Walker
 
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Location: Surrey, probably in a canoe! www.wildernessisastateofmind.co.uk

Re: Winter Perfection on Slioch!

Postby Guinessman » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:25 pm

Nice one, some good shots in there.
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Guinessman
Munro compleatist
 
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Re: Winter Perfection on Slioch!

Postby malky_c » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:35 pm

Brilliant 8) . Looks like the last minute planning paid off.
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malky_c
 
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