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Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather


Postby Alteknacker » Wed May 23, 2018 12:27 pm

Munros included on this walk: Gairich, Garbh Chioch Mhor, Sgurr Mor (Loch Quoich), Sgurr na Ciche, Sgurr nan Coireachan (Glen Dessary)

Corbetts included on this walk: Ben Aden, Sgurr an Fhuarain, Sgurr Mhurlagain

Date walked: 18/05/2018

Time taken: 27 hours

Distance: 51.9 km

Ascent: 4660m

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The CEO is more inspired by beaches and sun than mountains and breezes, so, just back from 10 days of idleness and booze in sunny Greece, I was keen to get back into the hills doing something a little more energetic. And I could see that there was some good weather coming up ...
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... it was just a question of deciding where to go. I’d worked out some routes around the Deargs and also Loch Ossian, which were high on the priority list. But then I read Rockhopper’s report of his epic assault on Gairich and the Rough Bounds…
https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=33834
… via a link given in response to SummitViews’ query https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=80360
ImageOne of the many pics in Rockhopper's report that crystalized my intention to walk this ridge - just look at that wonderful volcano-like triangle of Sgurr na Ciche on the far right :D .

Not only has this area been on the dream list for some years (prodded by reports from among others, Mountainlove and Mrssanta), but the pics of the ridge in Rockhopper’s report are utterly seductive.

Decision made.

But I’ve been slowly coming to the conclusion that, although one-day blitzes can be great, there’s probably a lot to be said for a more leisurely savouring of the hills over multiple days. And now I’m no longer in gainful employment, I really have no excuse not to at least give it a go. So I worked out a 2 day route, more or less following Rockhopper’s, starting the round at the car park at the end of the Loch Archaig road, but progressing somewhat more slowly so as to be able to spend more time luxuriating in and absorbing the environment, and with plenty of scope for variation if desired. I also add in Ben Aden, mainly because the contours between it and Sgurr na Ciche are so complex that it's very difficult to picture what's going on - and that is a sure-fire sign of very interesting terrain!!! The only slight misgiving about the route is that I haven't done a significant walk with an overnight pack for over 50 years :roll: .


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5/3/1 - 5 Munros, 3 Corbetts, and one top!

I drive up to Loch Archaig on the Tuesday, when rain is forecast for the afternoon. The idea is that this gives the option of camping on Sgurr Mhurlagain summit in the evening, provided it’s not too windy and wet - I sleep badly in a flapping tent. When I turn off on to the switchback single track road that runs along Loch Archaig, I see that the higher summits are shrouded in cloud, and as I drive along the lochside towards the car park it’s clear from the waves that there’s a pretty strong breeze.

Image20180515_172233.

And that’s also evident when I arrive at the car park and take a wander around (there are probably a dozen cars already parked there). So I decide to camp low and set off early in the morning; I just need to find a sheltered spot. Which turns out to be not so easy, and the first suitable place I eventually find is about 4 miles back down the road. Initially it doesn’t look especially prepossessing; but astonishingly, the few scrub bushes there afford really good shelter from the wind: this is what it’s like windward of the bushes…
Image20180515_200424.

Image20180515_195509.
… but leeward, it’s perfectly calm.

I cook up a big pot of pasta, and after consuming it and taking a postprandial stroll for an hour or so, I bed down, setting my alarm for 03.45, with the idea of leaving the car park at 05.00am.

Unfortunately I fail to hear my alarm, and only wake at 04.30!
Image

Image
F***, f***, f***ity f***!!!

Still, it shows what can be done if one really gets focused. In the event I've packed my sac, struck my tent, driven to the car park and am under way at 05.15am! No path: I just head off more or less along a compass bearing. It's a little rough, but not too difficult at all - in fact the main thing I notice is the weight of my pack: quite a bit heavier than my day pack - surprise, surprise :roll: .

Image20180516_052440. Looking west along Loch Arkaig - what a morning! Nothing like this for lifting one's mood - which in my case is already one of high exhilaration.

Image

Image20180516_053445.

Image20180516_054938. ... and it only gets better as the sun rises.

Somewhere up to my left a cuckoo starts calling, the first I've heard this year. Magical. I've brought my bird scarers (aka binoculars) with me this time in the hope of seeing an eagle. Fat chance!
Image.

Image20180516_060309. Sgurr Mhurlagain ahead.

Image20180516_061828. The head of Loch Archaig (and the car park) in the warm morning sunlight.

Image20180516_063019. Away to the SSE, a familiar silhouette topped with dawn cloud...

Image20180516_070305. As I approach the summit of Sgurr Mhurlagain, the panoramas are sensational - this one looking more or less south west. I'm sure I must have been feeling the unfamiliar weight of the bigger pack, but I don't recall registering it.

Image20180516_070305 labelled.

Image20180516_070914. Sgurr Mhurlagain summit. At this point I'm more or less on schedule. The panoramas continue to amaze, this looking roughly north west.

Image20180516_070914 labelled.

Image20180516_071049. And this looking back towards Loch Arkaig, Ben Nevis visible just left of centre in the far background.

Image20180516_072108. Still quite a bit of snow around. A big collapsing cornice in the middle foreground. Gairich in the background doesn't look too intimidating from here, but in fact it is to prove a real toughie.

Image20180516_072405. Looking back up at the Sgurr Mhurlagain summit - very shapely!

Image20180516_074210. I take a route more or less as the crow flies in the direction of Kinbreak bothy - there don't seem to be any paths, but the going is not problematic. The bothy is quite difficult to see on this pic - it's pretty well dead centre, just to the left of the ruined old croft, which is more visible.

I take a nose around the bothy when I get there. There's construction work going on downstairs, but upstairs is in fine shape for overnighting.

Getting across to the other side of the River Kingie means crossing some fairly extensive bog, as is pretty clear from the contours anyway - boggy enough for a snipe to be feeding there and to rise as I pass (the only interesting bird I see on the entire walk!). I'm fortunate, I think, because of the recent dry weather, and am able to cross the swamp without getting wet feet - although it's necessary to take of shoes and socks to wade the River Kingie.

Once above the bog I hit a track that runs the along the north side of the glen (clearly visible on the pic above), and which leads up to the bealach between Gairich and Sgurr am Fhuarain, from where I intend to start the ascent of Gairich.

Image20180516_091713.

I lay my sac next to the footbridge over the Allt a'Choire Ghlais, and head off directly up the shoulder up to Gairich Beag (I've forgotten that I intended to follow the zigzagging path that starts a little higher up the bealach and that Rockhopper took). This shot is taken looking up from the footbridge towards Gairich Beag.

This is where it starts to get very very tough indeed - for reasons I still cannot wholly explain, not least because the ascent to Gairich Beag is only about 400m, after which the slope eases off en route to Gairich itself. But I find it absolutely exhausting, even without a sac. I feel to be going impossibly slowly and it seems to take an age before I crest the shoulder.

Image20180516_095947. When I do, I pause to gather my strength, and take this pic looking back towards Kinbreak...

Image20180516_095951. ... and this one looking West along the ridge towards Sgurr an Fhuarain. Nearly 600m of climb, the contemplation of which doesn't do anything to ameliorate my exhaustion!

Image20180516_100836. Ahead, to the east, Gairich. Doesn't look too dreadful - just 200m of ascent - but it feels like I'm facing 2000m. I just can't understand why this is proving such a physical trial.

Image20180516_102338. Bushed as I am, I have plenty of reasons for stopping frequently to appreciate the views. I think this is a particularly fine portrait of a trio of mountains: the magnificent horseshoe of Sgurr Mhulagain on the left of the picture, Fraoch Bheinn in the centre, and Sgurr an Fhurain to the right, with Sgurr Mor and the whole ridge behind it. Though I really am beginning to wonder whether I'll have to curtail my plan seriously.

Image20180516_104452. Counting my slow paces in lots of 200, I eventually make it to the summit, where I take a long rest and admire the panoramas - this looking north east toward the Loch Quoich dam - and reflect upon my state of exhaustion.

The attraction of hill walking for me has three main aspects: the physical exertion and challenge of complete reliance on one's own capability; the visual splendour of the environment; and the solitude. And all need to be in the right balance. For example, pure physical challenge has very limited appeal - a marathon would bore me rigid, as does distance swimming; and I'm not much enthused by flogging up a wet hillside to view a cairn enveloped in clag either. I can enjoy fine views from the top of a mountain I've just driven up; but however fine the environment, the experience doesn't have the same intense quality as if I've had to sweat my way on foot to the summit. Solitude: not so critical perhaps, but essentially one is exchanging the meandering meditative pleasure of drifting personal thoughts for the very different pleasure of social interaction; and unless my potential companion is a close friend, I tend - without really thinking about it - to plan for solo walks.

Today it now feels like the balance between the three is wrong: everything else is perfect, but I'm so lacking energy that I'm only partly enjoying the experience.

However...

Image20180516_105918. ... now I have to retrace my steps back down to the bealach. At least it's downhill though, and I gradually begin to feel better.

Image20180516_113328. When I get back to the footbridge and collect my sac, I'm feeling significantly recovered. I load up with water, decide on my route up Sgurr Fhuarain, shoulder my sac, and head off, albeit at a more leisurely pace than hitherto. I just plod on, slowing down if it starts at all to feel too much like hard work. I'm not following any path, but the terrain is easy enough.
It doesn't look like 600m of ascent on this pic...


Image20180516_120000. On the north-facing slope of the way up Sgurr an Fhurain, possible remains of the Caledonian Forest?

Image20180516_133953. Slow and steady wins the race... Looking back just a few minutes from the summit of Sgurr an Fhuarain towards Gairich, the beast that nearly killed me looks quite innocuous :roll:

As I approach the summit cairn I see that a fellow walker is already there, a lovely chap from Aberdeen, who's already climbed Sgurr Beag and Sgurr Mor, and is now about to head back via Feith a'Bhrolaich (the bealach between Fraoch Bheinn and Sgurr Mhulagain) to the car park at the end of Loch Arkaig.

We take some someoneelsies for each other...
Image20180516_135242. A someoneelsie on the summit of Sgurr an Fhurain, looking west towards Sgurr Mor, with Sgurr na Ciche about a third of the way in from the LHS.

Image20180516_135302 - labelled.

Image20180516_140131.
After the pics, we walk together down to the bealach between Sgurr an Fhuarain and Sgurr Mor, where he's dumped his sac, and where we part ways. Ahead the ascent of Sgurr Mor. Although I've somehow recovered some strength on the ascent of Sgurr an Fhurain, I'm appreciating the fact that there's a path along the ridge, and I don't have to bushwhack through heather or turf :) .

Image20180516_141504.

It's a steady climb - 300m - up to the summit: not difficult under foot, but quite gruelling in the strong sun. As has been the case on practically every Highlands trip I've made, the weather has actually turned out significantly better than forecast by the met office. The only difficulty is that I've only got about 3/4 of a litre of water left and there seems to be very little sign of potable water - :shock: .

Image20180516_150200. Reaching the summit ridge, I look back towards Sgurr Fhuarain (left, foreground), Fraoch Bheinn and Sgurr Mhulagain (right, middle background) and Gairich (left, far background). Hard to believe it's only mid-May!

Image20180516_151254. View west from the summit, the other peaks of the ridge in sight.

Image20180516_154552. The descent from Sgurr Mor is quite rough, and a bit of care is necessary - as can be judged from this pic looking back from the bealach between it and Sgurr Beag.

Image20180516_160124. It's a fairly quick and straightforward climb up on to Sgurr Beag

Image20180516_161455. Ahead An Eag. The sun remains intense, and I'm now very short of water, and reduced to gathering handfulls of ice from the remaining snow drifts in an attempt to stop my throat closing. As anyone knows who's tried to do this, it's very difficult to melt enough ice in one's mouth to slake one's thirst before one's mouth becomes impossibly cold!

Image20180516_162601. There are plenty of static pools, and though I'm pretty sure the water wouldn't be too foetid, I just can't overcome my habitual reluctance to drink from a non-flowing source.

Image20180516_171056. Approaching the summit of An Eag - easy walking. Sgurr nan Coireachan now showing more clearly to the right.

Image20180516_171801. Looking south west from An Eag summit, with (I think) Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoidh in the middle distance, and Ben Nevis just visible in the far background just left of centre.

Image20180516_172800. Sgurr Coireachan ahead

Image20180516_173121. Plenty of remaining old cornices from which to get ice to suck on until such time as I find some flowing water...

Image20180516_181811. On the summit of Sgurr nan Coirechan, looking west towards Garbh Chiochs Beag and Mhor, Sgurr na Ciche - a perfect cone; and in the left background, Loch Nevis.

Image20180516_181834. And looking back east along the ridge I've traversed during the course of the afternoon.

Image20180516_183114. As Bealach Coire nan Gall comes into view, so do two young guys with pretty massive packs. We stop for a short blether. They're in the middle of a week long walk, hence I guess the huge packs. They started the day at Sourlies - camping because the bothy was full - and have done Sgurr na Ciche and the Garbh Chiochs. They're convinced that Garbh Chioch Bheag is a Munro, so they've done 3 today... They tell me it's taken them about 3.5 hours to get from Sgurr na Ciche, but say they've been taking it very slowly, and reckon it should take about 2.5 hours to get to SnC at normal pace. We exchange information about water sources: they tell me that the last place they found running water was at the bealach between Garbh Chioch Mhor and Sgurr na Ciche!!! Oh dear!!!
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Dropping down into the bealach, I'm beginning to feel quite fatigued again. Looking at the time - 18.45 - it would be possible to get to Sgurr na Ciche around 21.00, but I've no idea whether I'll find a sheltered pitch on the summit, and I really do want a good night's sleep. So I decide to keep my eyes open for a bit of flattish sheltered ground and pitch my tent on the first one I find.

I pass numerous small flat areas, but they're all pretty drafty; until eventually, just before the summit of Garbh Chioch Bheag I find one that just about fits the bill. It's not especially flat, but it is sheltered, so I go for it, notwithstanding the uncomfortable fact that I've only just got enough water for my dehydrated meal.

Image20180516_192448. This is the view looking back east towards Sgurr nan Coirechan just before I get to the chosen pitch.

I'm just too shattered to spend much time enjoying the sunset: it's all I can do to get the tent set up and my dinner cooking. I'm dead to the world before 21.00!

DAY 1 STATS
Distance: 25km
Ascent: 3268m
Start - finish time: 14.25 hours

During the night I keep sliding down the slope on my Exped mattress to the bottom of the tent , but notwithstanding this continual gravitational challenge, I do manage to get a reasonable night's rest. :)

Image20180517_053326. Sunrise illuminates a very horribly pitched tent...

Image20180517_054737.... so before getting myself organised, I step up on to one of the rocky prominences nearby to appreciate the sunrise properly - wonderful, augering well for yet another superb day.

I'm somewhat sluggish in getting everything packed up, not least because it's pretty chilly - there's ice condensation on the outside of the tent :shock: . But eventually I'm back on my way just before 06.30. My shoulders are protesting rather at the weight of the rucksack after yesterday, and I'm quite dehydrated, but otherwise I feel pretty good (hard to feel anything but in an environment like this), and the legs don't feel tired at all.

Image20180517_063328. Having pitched my tent just below Garbh Chioch Bheag, it only takes a couple of minutes to get to the first summit of the day (the one Munro top of the trip). Ahead the next 2 Munros, and as far as I can see, quite easy walking to ...

Image20180517_065355. ... Garbh Chioch Mhor ...

Image20180517_070212. ...the summit of which is soon reached.

Image20180517_070242. Looking back east the way I've come. Pretty damned fine! (this pic benefits from being viewed on a full screen, when the distances are clearer).

Image20180517_070344. Ahead the last Munro of the round, Sgurr na Ciche - looks like a cracking ascent :D .

Image20180517_070920. On the way down to the bealach Feadan na Ciche I come across these fossilized verylongworms... perhaps tapeworms from the gut of dinosaurs... :roll:

There's a good bit of running water in Feadan na Ciche, and I fairly hoover it up. After a very very long drink, I fill my bottles - one 1 litre in total - and head off up the hill

Initially there's a bit of a path, but I soon manage to lose it, as a result of which I spend a fair amount of time - albeit enjoyable time - route finding and scrambling.

Image20180517_080212. This is looking back towards Garch Chioch Mhor, about half way up the ascent of SnC.

Eventually by way of numerous detours, I clear the various cliffs and get to the summit. Had I but known it, this was just a mild warm-up for what I was to experience on the descent of Ben Aden :shock: .

Image20180517_082107. This summit pic is looking just north of west. In the left middle background is Meall Buidhe, in the right middle background, Looney Bheinn, in the far background, Ladhar Bheinn; and in the very far background, the Black Cuillin.

On days like this, Highlands mountain top panoramas always fill me with a sense of the immense span of geological time compared to which the human life span is absolutely insignificant. Trying to give my grandkids a sense of this once in relation to when the dinosaurs lived, I took the diameter of a small grass stalk – about 1 millimetre – and worked out what the time back to the dinosaurs – say 100 million years – would be as an equivalent distance. Over 1 km! Or a million-plus human lifetimes! Orogenesis in this area must go back at least 500 million years, so in the case of these mountains it would be 5km. How transient indeed are human affairs! Which is rather reassuring :) .

Pensiveness soon gives way to simple unalloyed enjoyment. Absolutely breathtaking. I spend a good 15 minutes here, munching a couple of marmelade croissants, and soaking in the views.

Image20180517_082144. This is looking back east along the entire ridge with Loch Quoich on the LHS (again, if you like panos, best viewed full screen).

Image20180517_082350. ... zoomed a bit ...

Image20180517_082306. ... and this looking east towards Loch Nevis, with Ben Aden, the next goal, in the right foreground.

I'd planned to descend Ben Aden to the Carnach Glen in a more or less direct south west line. There didn't seem to be any indication on the map that this would be an especially difficult undertaking: there seemed, from the map, to be enough breaks in the cliffs for this to be feasible.

Image20180517_082306. Ben Aden
Now I came to study possible descent routes in the flesh, it didn't look so straightforward: there were really very few gaps between the serried ranks of cliffs :shock: . After some time, I manage to pick out a route that looked like it should be feasible, which involved loosely following the watercourse that starts near the summit and initially heads just south of west, before gradually swinging more and more southwards.

ImagePlanned Ben Aden descent route
But it was already clear that the descent was going to prove something of a challenge!

No matter, I thought: looking at the ground between Sgurr na Ciche and Ben Aden, it looks every bit as rough, gruff and wild as I'd hoped.

Image20180517_083504. It takes a bit of a horseshoe route to get to Ben Aden. First I set off down the north east shoulder towards Meall a'Choire Dhuibh.

Image20180517_090802. The topography is all over the place - wonderful, but challenging: it's often not clear until I reach a vertical cliff that I need to make a detour.

Image20180517_093517. Looking back the way I've come, the optimum route seems a bit clearer, but this isn't obvious until one's reached the bottom!

Image20180517_094536. As I contour round the side of Meall nan Clach Eiteag, the view of Ben Aden's defensive ramparts is seriously impressive...

Image20180517_095944. ...as indeed is the north face of Sgurr na Ciche.

Image20180517_100131. Ahead of Ben Aden, via a wild terrain of crazy geological formations and lochains. This betters all expectations :thumbup: .

Image[20180517_100739. Looking back at Sgurr na Ciche.

Poring over the map of this area when planning the route, I had experienced quite a frisson of pleasure, and I guess this was in part because it felt like it must be somewhat off the beaten track. I didn't articulate the hope that no-one would have walked quite this route, but the momentary disappointment I feel when I see these footprints betrays what has been going on in my subconscious.

Image20180517_100922. After a moment's reflection, however, I realise that it is good that others have experienced the wonder of this other-worldly place.

Image20180517_101028. There are here pleasures on a much smaller scale too. I had been wondering the whole of yesterday at the fact that I seen no amphibian life in the the various pools I passed. Now, as a pass the end of a lochain, a small ripple at the edge catches my eye; and I am lucky enough to be able to get a pic of this little jewel before it wriggles into the sheltering weed. Brilliant!

From now on it's just a steady, technically straightforward climb from the low point of Bealach a'Chairn Deirg to the summit - about 240m of ascent.

Image20180517_104736. On the way I come across these large raptor pellets - the largest one is about 20cm long. Anyone any idea what bird produced them?? (I'm kind of hoping it's an eagle, but I guess not...).

Image20180517_105214. The views on the way looking back east south east merit multiple pic stops - this is just one pano of many taken on the day.

Image20180517_105214 labelled.

Image20180517_111009. Ben Aden summit - once again, the most spectacular views.

Image20180517_111009. Zoom to Skye's Cuillin Hills in the background.

Image20180517_111038. And yet again, looking back south east along the route I've just come, Sgurr na Ciche on the right hand side. Wild, or what???

I sit enjoying this, probably the last hill of this walk, for 10 minutes or so, before reluctantly shouldering my pack. I take a careful bearing - which turns out not to be necessary because the watercourse starts very close to the summit - and head off just south of west. From what I've seen from Sgurr na Ciche, there's about 200m of really tricky craggy descent, after which finding a route ought to be much easier.

For the first 100m or so of descent I'm able to pick out a route between the crags reasonably easily; but it gets progressively more difficult: sometimes I'm in the gorge of the watercourse, sometimes I have to climb out of it and skirt round a crag or slab. More than once I reach an impassable position, and have to climb back up from the point I've reached to try another route. Eventually I get to a place where I have to make a decision - beside the gorge, or in the gorge. There are long steep slabs either side of the gorge at this point, and it's not clear that there will be a route around them that will take me past this crux. On the other hand, although it's a bit difficult to see clearly, it does look as if it will be possible to get down the gorge, once I get past the immediate crux. So I take the gorge.

To cut a very long story short, I spend the next hour trying multiple different routes, most involving some quite serious climbing, before reaching a point in the gorge I simply cannot climb down - the "route" I'd spied from above was just not doable, especially not with a heavy pack and a b******d shoulder. I have a really tricky sod-and-choss climb back up to where I can get on to the north side of the gorge. Here, after many false starts, I eventually locate a narrow slot close to the gorge, down which I can just about climb. The sigh of relief I heave can barely be imagined!

Image20180517_122351. Viewed from below, it looks quite harmless. The slot is on the left hand side of the watercourse gorge, and is MUCH steeper than it looks on the pic. It is reasonably clear from this pic also that the cliffs either side of the gorge would be effectively unclimbable in solo mode.

Image20180517_125659. Once past this crux, the terrain is quite easy. Here I'm getting close to the glen bottom, Loch Nevis and Camusrory visible in the background

Image20180517_130439. Looking back up the way I've come, the rocky cliffs in the upper area quite clear from here.

Image20180517_130439. Zoom to aforementioned cliffs. My unqualified recommendation is: DON'T TRY THIS ROUTE!!!

Image20180517_131951. View back up the glen from the path down to Sourlies.

Image20180517_140125. Even in this dry weather, the path is pretty boggy, as can be seen from this pic. But again I manage to avoid wet feet, though I'm only wearing approach shoes, and progress is now much faster - it takes me about an hour and three quarters to get to the beach.
Image20180517_140803.

Image20180517_141236. This is the view up towards Sourlies bothy and Finiskaig just after rounding the headland of Stron Sourlies.

Image20180517_141657. I can't resist taking my own pic of this much photographed rock - the colouring really is most spectacular.

Image20180517_141814. Sourlies bothy comes into view. I'm now ready for a decent rest in preparation for the long haul back to the car park at the end of Loch Arkaig, so I shed my pack and just sit in the sun in front of the bothy.

A few minutes later a tiny figure bearing the most enormous sac gradually emerges from the greenery along the path from Glen Dessary. She soon arrives at the bothy and we chew the fat companionably for half an hour or so. She's doing the southern leg of the CWT - a week's walk - as training for the full route, and had been on the trail since Monday. I'm wildly impressed: she must be late 50s/early 60s, and cannot be above 1.5m tall; neither does she look particularly fit. What does intrigue me is that fact that her huge bag is only about the same weight as mine, notwithstanding her much longer journey. We compare contents, and she seems to have a lot more than I - for example, 2 changes of clothes. I make a mental note to carefully check the weight of everything in my sac once home.

She tells me she'd set out with a couple of friends, but they'd dropped out after only one night. In spite of her admonitions, they'd made no preparations whatever for the walk - not tried packing and carrying their sacs, not tried sleeping together in a 2 man tent, not done any practice walking to see what pace they could manage... Seriously unsmart :roll: .

I tell her about my difficulties on Ben Aden, and it turns out she's had exactly the same experience when climbing Ben Aden from the Sourlies side!

It would be nice just to doze off in the warm sunshine, but there's still that long walk back to the car park. So regretfully I heave on my sac, bid farewell, and force my reluctant body into motion.

The path is reasonably clear (though parts would be difficult to find in the dark) and none too steep.

Image20180517_150959. One of the nice aspects of the path is the number of waterfalls on the way...

Image20180517_151818. Looking back towards Loch Nevis for the final time.

Image20180517_151824. Another fine waterfall...

Image20180517_152505. ... and another!

Image20180517_154012. As the Finiskaig River winds its way down from the watershed, the path winds its way up.

Image20180517_155800. Lochains on the Finiskaig River...

Image20180517_161653.

I meet several folk doing the CWT, including a German guy who's aiming for Ullapool! RES-PECT!

Image20180517_162940. Garbh Chioch Mhor (LHS) and Garbh Chioch Bheag (I think) - viewed from the Glen Dessary path, looking approximately north east.

This is almost the watershed, and the path is pretty boggy for significant sections. From here on down to where the path joins the Glen Dessary track at Upper Glendessary would be quite an unpleasant bog-fest in wet weather I fear.

There's a large cairn next to the path at 911949, the history of which I've been unable to determine. If anyone knows, I'd be interested to hear.

Image20180517_163142. Looking from the watershed down towards Glen Dessary - a fine place to be! Notwithstanding the bogs, it's all very pleasant until the end of the forestry.

Image20180517_175748. After this, the glen broadens out, and becomes, at least in my view, rather less attractive, particularly when the path changes to a vehicular access track at Upper Glendessary. After that it's just a rather uninspiring slog, the tedium relieved only by the thought of the bottle of beer waiting in the car, and I arrive at the car park at 18.45. Where I discover a) that I'm tired out; and b) that I don't even fancy a beer, and max out on orange juice instead.

Then I head off home, stopping for the night at a favourite camping spot near the Bridge of Orchy.

DAY 2 STATS
Distance: 26.9km
Ascent: 1402m
Start - finish time: 12.5 hours

I’m still puzzled by my extreme exhaustion on the first day, and once home I check some of the times. In fact, allowing for stops and photos, I reached the summit of Glaisich at more or less Naismith pace – a lot faster than I’d thought; and this may be part of the explanation. After that I took it quite a bit more steadily, and – surprise, surprise – didn’t feel so tired! I may also have been a bit dehydrated - the last time I felt so bad was when I was indeed dehydrated.

SUMMARY
A really superb round, fully living up to its Rough Bounds soubriquet - it's just so wild; and the traverse from Sgurr na Ciche is simply indescribabley wonderful. Obviously I didn't choose the best route down from Ben Aden, and anyone thinking of following this route needs to research a safer line down. I make a bit light of it here, but the route I took was not at all clever.

Carrying an overnight pack was definitely tougher than I'd expected, but not so as to put me off doing it again. What I have gained is a considerable respect for the strength of folk like Mountainlove, Weaselmaster, SickKid and Jaxter, who do this pretty regularly :clap:
Last edited by Alteknacker on Thu May 24, 2018 7:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby Chris Mac » Wed May 23, 2018 12:37 pm

Top stuff Alteknacker, I really enjoyed reading about yet another one of your massive days out on the hills, great effort, report and pics! :clap:
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby rockhopper » Wed May 23, 2018 1:25 pm

Ooft. Superb - cracker of a trip and some great weather conditions. :thumbup: Good idea to add on Ben Aden and visit Sourlies too. On a trip last year I also got extremely exhausted towards the end of day 1 of a camping trip - could hardly put one foot in front of the other - felt a lot better after a decent meal and water so put it down to just not eating/drinking enough during the day and the hot weather (and maybe age catching up a bit :roll: ). A great write up of your trip - brightened up my lunchtime ! - cheers :)
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby malky_c » Wed May 23, 2018 1:31 pm

Looks like a top trip - glad to see you with the tent out on the hills (although that's also why you're probably so knackered!). I'll need to come back to see the second half of the photos as my network at work won't load them up fast enough (I suppose other people are using it to do proper work :roll: ). I also remember an interesting descent down Ben Aden in thick mist, when my compass packed in. I took a line slightly more to the east than you but I remember sliding down gullies hoping they didn't develop into anything steeper. Great area 8) .

Give me a shout if you are up in the NW Highlands again this summer if you fancy another walk - I should be based back there as of next week. I tend to plan in the same way as you so I won't be offended if I see that you've been out nearby though!

Someoneelsies....or photos as they used to be called :lol:
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby Mancunian » Thu May 24, 2018 7:37 am

Hey Alter Knacker!
Great report and a wonderful trip (apart from the Ben Aden descent). I really liked your reason why you love hillwalking and I feel very much the same. A good summary you have given there.
As for the fatigue you experienced: This might be related to your rucksack and the gear you carried around for the overnighter. As you know, we carry roughly 16 to 19 kg and it is such a huge difference if we climb the mountains with or without rucksack. They manufacturers should print labels on the rucksacks similar to the one they print on cigarette packs "Warning! The use of the device may significantly reduce the amount of fun you will experience in the hills and increase your risk of feeling slow and exhausted!" :wink:

Looking forward to your next trip already!
Cheers
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby weaselmaster » Thu May 24, 2018 9:46 am

Good trip and report.
As we're heading up for these hills tonight a timely view of snow conditions (ie not much left by the look of it and sure to disappear in the hot sun forecast for the next few days :D )
I had been tempted to do a route including Ben Aden and returning to the road along Loch Quoich, but having previously spotted out the descent options did think it looked a bit uncomfortable descending off Sgurr na Ciche. Glad to have my doubts confirmed!
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby Mal Grey » Thu May 24, 2018 12:10 pm

So, that's a "leisurely savouring" is it!!!!! :lol:


Top notch stuff, fantastic story and some fabulous images of this amazing part of the world. I've still to do most of these tops, having failed to get on them in bad weather. This makes me long to go back.
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby Broggy1 » Thu May 24, 2018 4:29 pm

Epic route and some awesome mountains there. :clap:
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby Avocetboy » Thu May 24, 2018 9:40 pm

Cracking report. I just showed the route to my wife. “It looks like a dog running”, she replied
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby Sunset tripper » Fri May 25, 2018 12:49 am

Another epic altenacker. Great report and it does look like a dog :D
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby yokehead » Fri May 25, 2018 3:40 pm

Cracking round that contained a lot of everything, wonderful report. Nicely done!
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby Alteknacker » Sun May 27, 2018 5:08 pm

Chris Mac wrote:Top stuff Alteknacker, I really enjoyed reading about yet another one of your massive days out on the hills, great effort, report and pics! :clap:


Thanks Chris. (I hate to admit it, but it was 2 days, and 2 hard days at that :D )

rockhopper wrote:Ooft. Superb - cracker of a trip and some great weather conditions. :thumbup: Good idea to add on Ben Aden and visit Sourlies too. On a trip last year I also got extremely exhausted towards the end of day 1 of a camping trip - could hardly put one foot in front of the other - felt a lot better after a decent meal and water so put it down to just not eating/drinking enough during the day and the hot weather (and maybe age catching up a bit :roll: ). A great write up of your trip - brightened up my lunchtime ! - cheers :)


Thanks RH. Yep, I was fortunate with the weather: though I do plan carefully to go only in good weather, this was even better than forecast.

As regards the extreme weariness, I haven't had anything like that for aeons. And I've been really objectively dehydrated on big walks (eg Cuillin Ridge, and 2nd half of the Mullardoch Round) but not felt too dreadful. It was a strange one :?: .

I owe you thanks actually because, as I mention in the report, although I've clocked this lot from others' reports (eg Weaselmaster's), it was reading your report that finally catalysed me into action. I definitely owe you a beer :thumbup: .

malky_c wrote:Looks like a top trip - glad to see you with the tent out on the hills (although that's also why you're probably so knackered!). I'll need to come back to see the second half of the photos as my network at work won't load them up fast enough (I suppose other people are using it to do proper work :roll: ). I also remember an interesting descent down Ben Aden in thick mist, when my compass packed in. I took a line slightly more to the east than you but I remember sliding down gullies hoping they didn't develop into anything steeper. Great area 8) .


I loaded the pics at quite high resolution, in case other folk like doing as I and viewing "mountain porn" - especially panos - at full size on a really big screen.

You definitely took a much better route down Ben Aden. I did wonder about it - essentially retracing the route back to Bealach a' Chairn Deirg, and then descending along the line of the Allt, if I understood your report correctly, and I would definitely have been better served following this route. I just have a bit of constitutional resistance to going back the way I've come unless I absolutely have to!!

malky_c wrote:Give me a shout if you are up in the NW Highlands again this summer if you fancy another walk - I should be based back there as of next week. I tend to plan in the same way as you so I won't be offended if I see that you've been out nearby though!


malky_c wrote:Someoneelsies....or photos as they used to be called :lol:

Well, folk keep talking about selfies these days....

Mancunian wrote:Hey Alter Knacker!
Great report and a wonderful trip (apart from the Ben Aden descent). I really liked your reason why you love hillwalking and I feel very much the same. A good summary you have given there.
As for the fatigue you experienced: This might be related to your rucksack and the gear you carried around for the overnighter. As you know, we carry roughly 16 to 19 kg and it is such a huge difference if we climb the mountains with or without rucksack. They manufacturers should print labels on the rucksacks similar to the one they print on cigarette packs "Warning! The use of the device may significantly reduce the amount of fun you will experience in the hills and increase your risk of feeling slow and exhausted!" :wink:

Looking forward to your next trip already!
Cheers


Thanks Mancunian. I definitely like the idea of a health warning on rucksacks :lol: .

weaselmaster wrote:Good trip and report.
....
I had been tempted to do a route including Ben Aden and returning to the road along Loch Quoich, but having previously spotted out the descent options did think it looked a bit uncomfortable descending off Sgurr na Ciche. Glad to have my doubts confirmed!


Thanks WM. Descending off SnC is a bit uncomforable, but really not too bad. Ben Aden - at least via the bad route I took - was not great at all!
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby Alteknacker » Tue May 29, 2018 10:48 am

Mal Grey wrote:So, that's a "leisurely savouring" is it!!!!! :lol:

Top notch stuff, fantastic story and some fabulous images of this amazing part of the world. I've still to do most of these tops, having failed to get on them in bad weather. This makes me long to go back.


It was perforce leisurely - I was so knackered!

Thanks for the kind words - it is indeed an amazing part of the world, that I'm sure bears multiple repeats. Having just savoured the pics in Weaselmaster's report of his similar round, I'm itching to get back up there...

Broggy1 wrote:Epic route and some awesome mountains there. :clap:


It is an awesome place. If you haven't been yet, just dial up some good weather and give it a whirl. At the speed you go, you'd probably be able to knock of the whole of Knoydart and the Rough Bounds in a day :lol: .

Avocetboy wrote:Cracking report. I just showed the route to my wife. “It looks like a dog running”, she replied

Sunset tripper wrote:Another epic altenacker. Great report and it does look like a dog :D

yokehead wrote:Cracking round that contained a lot of everything, wonderful report. Nicely done!


Thanks folks. Not quite sure how to take the "dog running" analogy... :roll: :D
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby mrssanta » Tue May 29, 2018 10:27 pm

Oh my that was fab! Want to go back!
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Re: Rough Bounds round of 5/3/1 in tropical weather

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:44 pm

mrssanta wrote:Oh my that was fab! Want to go back!


You should - yours was one of the reports that finally nudged me into getting into Knoydart :D .
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