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The Things We Do For...a Munro Top and a Sim

The Things We Do For...a Munro Top and a Sim


Postby weaselmaster » Tue May 08, 2018 12:09 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Carn Eige), Carn Eige, Carn Ghluasaid, Gleouraich, Mam Sodhail, Sail Chaorainn, Sgurr nan Conbhairean, Spidean Mialach, Toll Creagach, Tom a'Choinich

Date walked: 07/05/2018

Time taken: 31 hours

Distance: 74.6 km

Ascent: 5846m

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There's a little, rather insignificant "bump" looking down from Carn Eighe towards Beinn Fhionnlaidh. It's a Munro Top called Stob Coire Lochan. There's a clear path that bypasses it going to Fhionnlaidh which you take from carn Eighe (and probably back again, since most people will do Beinn Fhionnlaidh from carn Eighe). Be warned - if you later decide to do your Munro Tops you will be kicking yourself for having missed it out as it's a bit of an awkward bugger to go back and get :lol: This is the sorry tale of Allison and her drive to get her remaining Tops finished...

A bank holiday weekend - great for planning some bigger trips, although not when the weather forecast makes you weep with rain and high winds. For our four days, the first two were meant to be rubbish with winds of 35mph+, the Sunday & Monday overcast but not windy. So I had planned that we'd spend the first 2 in Kintail then head up either to Affric and do the recalcitrant Stob Coire Lochan, or to Achnashellach. We camped in a forest on the way up to Kintail on Thursday night. In the morning the tent had been completely infiltrated by slugs, mostly the large black ones. Never seen as many! I had planned a nice loop taking in the two eastern ridges of Sail Chaorainn for one day (including the 2 Munro Tops along its spine) then Carn Ghluasaid to Mullach Fraoch Coire taking in A'Chioch on A'Chrailaig. Well that plan got abandoned - and just as well as I did not like the look for Mulloch Fraioch Coire which was still holding considerable snow along its pinnacled ridge. One for after the thaw... Anyway, I'd decided we'd do the Carn Ghluasaid 3, including the central MT on Sail Chaorainn and head over to A'Chioch - we could do the Sims on the ridges of Sail Chaorainn and the remaining northern MT some other time - Allison only needed the middle top. We parked near the start of a stalkers track and used this to ascend and join the more traditional path up Ghluasaid. Nothing remarkable about the journey to Sail Chaorainn - still big cornices around all the coire walls, mostly the paths are snow-free. We encountered a saddle of snow on one of the sections between Sail Chaorainn and the middle MT.


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



Carn Ghluasaid
ImageP1180596 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180597 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr nan Conbhairean
ImageP1180598 by Al, on Flickr

Snowy obstacle between Sail Chaorainn and its middle Top
ImageP1180600 by Al, on Flickr

Another Top ticked
ImageP1180601 by Al, on Flickr

Back along over Sgurr nan Conbhairean and across Drochaid an Tuill Easaich - we encountered an unpleasantly steep bit of snow at the narrowest section which had us reaching for our axes. We then cut round the top of Coire a'Chait to climb up onto the ridge of A'Chioch. The weather had brightened up with some blue skies to finish the afternoon. We had another bit of snowy unpleasantness attempting to get out of the coire back onto the main ridge of A'Chralaig and ended up contouring round the hillside before heading back to the car. I'm fed up with the snow now - it's May and I don't like having to wear winter boots anymore for these longer walks or to have to make frequent adjustments to my plans because of cornicing or other snowy delights...

ImageP1180603 by Al, on Flickr

Along a'Chioch
ImageP1180604 by Al, on Flickr

9 to go...
ImageP1180605 by Al, on Flickr

Tree withinn a post
ImageP1180606 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180607 by Al, on Flickr


Spent the night in a new little spot in Kintail and pondered what to do the next day. In the morning Allison checked the forecast which suggested Saturday would be windy but largely dry and that Sunday and Monday were also to have high winds- damn. It felt too late to drive up to Affric to start our longer walk now - the big rucksacks weren't packed. The only hill needing done in the vicinity was Gleouraich (excluding the Glen Shiel ridges which will wait for better weather and the snow to have vanished). So off we went along Loch Quoich, finding the parking place entirely full - a large group had the same hill plans as us and had arrived a few minutes earlier. Down towards the bridge then, where there's another place to park, and an extra 2k on the walk.

We'd climbed Spidean Mialach a couple of months ago but abandoned plans to add Gleouraich due to white out conditions. There's a lovely path up Gleouraich that makes light work of the ascent. The day was starting to clear as we trailed the human caterpillar of 16 other walkers up the hill, overtaking them when they paused for an early lunch at the top of Fraoch Choire. Snow and cornicing on the northern aspects of the mouontain but the path was clear. We stopped between Gleouraich and the adjacent Top of Creag Coire na Fiar Bhealaich for lunch, blasted a bit by the wind. Might as well continue on to Spidean Mialach rather than pick a way through Coire Dubh - a pleasant walk up the scalloped slopes and we managed to find the path on the way down. Could have done with that path 2 months ago when it was concealed under several feet of snow. A nice short day.

Up Gleouraich
ImageP1180611 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180612 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Gleouraich
ImageP1180614 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180615 by Al, on Flickr

Lovely Loch Quoich
ImageP1180616 by Al, on Flickr

Spidean Mialach
ImageP1180619 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180624 by Al, on Flickr

Gairich, centre
ImageP1180625 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Spidean
ImageP1180627 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Sgurr na Ciche
ImageP1180628 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180629 by Al, on Flickr

Sun was out as we drove up towards Affric, having decided to stay at Cannich and get a shower. However, the campsite was absolutely hoaching, with barely a place to pitch. Used to visiting in the colder months when there are very few tents, this was something of a surprise. We opted to do without a shower and just drive down to Glen Affric, hoping to find a suitable spot to camp. Which we did, though a number of others had similar ideas.

The planned route...

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



The actual route

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



A bit of rain overnight and an overcast morning, cloud down on the hills and drizzle never far away. Our plan was to walk in towards Tom a'Choinnich, maybe picking off the Sim of Am Meallan en route then head towards Carn Eige, ending the day in the coire to the east of Beinn Fionnlaidh where we would hopefully be sheltered from the wind. Due to a lack of attention on my part, we started up what was to have been the return path to Toll Creagach instead (I opted to leave the Sim for later). This turned out to be a fortuitous mistake as you will see. It's a long pull up soggy grass from Gleann nam Fiadh to the top of Toll Creagach, particularly in the mist and rain with a strengthening wind. Once at the top it was lost in the mist towards Tom a'Choinnich. My recollection of this section - from the two Mullardoch Circuits I've done, both clockwise - was of soft mossy terrain with not much ascent. Oh how memory can trick you! Tom a'Choinnich turned out to be quite a steep proposition from this direction. Maybe it was a mixture of the clag (we've previously been more fortunate with weather in Mullardoch) and the bigger packs, which we've not utilised much in recent times.

ImageP1180631 by Al, on Flickr4

Shark alert on Toll Creagach!!
ImageP1180633 by Al, on Flickr

Dreich at top of Toll
ImageP1180634 by Al, on Flickr

Up to Tom
ImageP1180635 by Al, on Flickr

From Tom a'Choinnich we soldiered on in the clag until we reached the narrow ridge between Stob Coire Dhomhuill and Stob a'Choire Dhomhain. The wind was considerable, blowing right across our direction of travel and there was still a lot of snow covering parts of the ridge. Although we'd previously scrambled across the pinnacles, I remembered there was a bypass somewhere - we dipped down the southern side - not there. The northern side was snowy and steep. Hmm - time for a rethink. If it had only been the snow we would have probed around for a way across, but the high winds brought another dimension of risk and neither of us was happy to continue. From the map it looked like we could descend into Choire Dhomhain and get up to Creag na h-Eige somehow (the awkwardly placed Sim I wanted to do) then head over to Fhionnlaidh and return over Sgurr na Lapaich. This would still allow us to camp low under Beinn Fhionnlaidh.

Towards Sron Garbh
ImageP1180638 by Al, on Flickr

The tricky section coming up
ImageP1180642 by Al, on Flickr

No hope of bypass to the south
ImageP1180643 by Al, on Flickr

Choire Dhomhain
ImageP1180644 by Al, on Flickr


The descent into the coire was steep and snowy in places - useful having axes and winter boots on. It would have been possible to climb up the other side onto the north ridge of Stob a'Choire Dhomhain, thereby reaching Carn Eige if we'd wished - apart from the presence of cornicing along almost the entire length of the coire rim. In the bright sunshine and warm air, there was a tangible danger of some of these snowy blocks falling off onto anyone below, who was, let's say, trying to climb up out of the coire. It would be easier to follow the Allt north out of the coire and head up Creag na h-Eige from somewhere nearer Loch Mullardoch - but this would involve a traipse and a loss of height. We spotted a small section of the coire rim not sporting a snowy cornice, although ascent to it was steep and craggy - and decided to go for that.

Snow on the pinnacles
ImageP1180646 by Al, on Flickr


Once up on the ridge there was a gentle descent to the bealach and a short 50m re-ascent to Creag na h-Eige. The map gives it as 913m, so close to being a Munro Top itself, although I note Hill Bagging has it at 911m. We sauntered down towards Coire Lochan, hoping that it was going to have some places that were drier than the surrounding hillside. The requirement of flattish, dryish and sheltered tent pitch site became something of a trial. We did find dry and flat places but they were still subject to the strong wind. We found sheltered places that were sub-aquatic. Eventually, we settled for a spot just after the outflow from the lochan and pitched. It wasn't very sheltered and the wind rose in strength as the evening wore on. At times it was as if a giant dog had grabbed the tent in its mouth and was shaking it violently. Sleep was hard to come by, although the wind did drop during the night.

Creag na h-Eige
ImageP1180648 by Al, on Flickr

Fhionnlaidh
ImageP1180649 by Al, on Flickr

Carn Eige to Fhionnlaidh, Coire Lochan
ImageP1180651 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Creag na h-Eige
ImageP1180652 by Al, on Flickr

Strange horseshoe of mostly glittery stones
ImageP1180656 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180655 by Al, on Flickr

Rosy fingers in the sky at dawn did not bring a beautiful morning - still cloudy when we rose. From our nocturnal position we had a modest ascent to the slopes of Beinn Fhoinnlaidh where we left our packs and continued to the summit. No views today. We returned to our burdens and made it to Allison's objective - Stob Coire Lochan at last! By this time the rain was starting and we had a wet climb up to Carn Eige. In thick mist we ventured to Mam Sodhail and found the SE ridge down to Sgurr na Lapaich. This also had considerable snow on the eastern facing sections and I didn't much enjoy the narrow parts in the combination of mist and snow - having previously jaunted up and down this ridge untroubled.

Morning
ImageP1180657 by Al, on Flickr

Stob Coire Lochan
ImageP1180658 by Al, on Flickr

Misty fingers down Carn Eige
ImageP1180659 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Fhionnlaidh
ImageP1180660 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180661 by Al, on Flickr

Atop Stob Coire Lochan - someone's happy
ImageP1180663 by Al, on Flickr

Fhionnlaidh
ImageP1180665 by Al, on Flickr

Carn Eige
ImageP1180666 by Al, on Flickr

Mam Sodhail
ImageP1180667 by Al, on Flickr


We followed the well marked and cairned path off Sgurr na Lapaich until it dissolved into a maze of peat hags and bog. We could finish off the day with Am Meallan, although getting there did involve some meandering in the mist, not least because of the deep peat hags and intermittent watery troughs. We came to the good track that leads down to Affric Lodge, crossed over it onto more marsh and eventually got to the top of the Sim. A steep wet descent towards Loch Affric and we were back on the path.

Am Meallan
ImageP1180670 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180672 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180673 by Al, on Flickr

So Allison has a mere 8 Tops left, 5 of which are on Skye and which will hopefully be completed next month during our Traverse attempt.
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weaselmaster
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Re: The Things We Do For...a Munro Top and a Sim

Postby malky_c » Tue May 08, 2018 2:27 pm

No sitting about for you and Allison as usual :wink: . I talked to a group on the Strathfarrar hills who had been beaten back by a cornice or steep snow somewhere on Friday - I couldn't work out exactly where they meant, but it was somewhere in the Monar/Mullardoch/Affric vicinity.

Fortunately we took a trip down Loch Mullardoch on the boat a few years back for the fun of it, and did a circuit of Carn Eighe and Beinn Fionnlaidh which included that rather out-of-reach top.
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Re: The Things We Do For...a Munro Top and a Sim

Postby prog99 » Tue May 08, 2018 5:29 pm

Think the glenshiel ridges should be pretty much snow free now.
only a few tops to do myself now but am combining with finishing a second Munro round.
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prog99
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Re: The Things We Do For...a Munro Top and a Sim

Postby weaselmaster » Tue May 08, 2018 11:06 pm

prog99 wrote:Think the glenshiel ridges should be pretty much snow free now.
only a few tops to do myself now but am combining with finishing a second Munro round.


Am going to wait a bit and do the south risge one day and the north the next. Reckoned on camping at Shiel Bridge on the night in between and leaving the car up at the Clunie. Prioritising Allison's remaining Tops over my second round at present :roll:
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weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1725
Munros:205   Corbetts:174
Grahams:62   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:168   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: The Things We Do For...a Munro Top and a Sim

Postby prog99 » Sun May 13, 2018 10:47 pm

There's a little, rather insignificant "bump" looking down from Carn Eighe towards Beinn Fhionnlaidh. It's a Munro Top called Stob Coire Lochan. There's a clear path that bypasses it going to Fhionnlaidh which you take from carn Eighe (and probably back again, since most people will do Beinn Fhionnlaidh from carn Eighe). Be warned - if you later decide to do your Munro Tops you will be kicking yourself for having missed it out as it's a bit of an awkward bugger to go back and get :lol: This is the sorry tale of Allison and her drive to get her remaining Tops finished...

Good tip, I was convinced I had done this until I saw it without crag yesterday. Made sure we went over it.

I'll add a new tip, water is hard to find at times up there on those ridges. NH117275 is a spring higher up than the burn marked on the 1:25k map. And if bypassing Carn Eighe to the west you cross two tiny burns.
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