walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Saileag in Winter 3rd Time Lucky

Saileag in Winter 3rd Time Lucky


Postby Cairngorm creeper » Fri Feb 22, 2019 11:22 am

Munros included on this walk: Sàileag

Date walked: 11/02/2019

Distance: 10.6 km

Ascent: 1024m

8 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Saileag was the one munro on the North Glen Sheil ridge that we hadn't visited. On the map it appeared an ideal choice for a winter walk but has proved to be more elusive and challenging than we anticipated :roll:.
Our first attempt was in January 2018, starting from the gap in the forestry (see map below) walking east to west, but we were post holing in deep snow from the moment we left the road and realised we were at risk of being benighted so turned back at Sgurr a Bhealaic Dheirg. We had another bash at the end of February 2018 when conditions were leaner, but were foiled by melting cornices on a narrow section of the ridge betweeen the two Munro's. :( .
For the past year Saileag has been sitting on the list of unfinished business, but with stable snow conditions in Kintail and a good weather forecast it was time to try again! It was well worth the wait!
Our plan was to follow our previous route, starting at the gap in the forestry leading up the sides of Meall a' Charra then head towards the North Glen Sheil Ridge and follow this to Saileag, returning the same way. We didn't anticipate encountering anything too challenging and if conditions were suitable we would take in Sgurr a' Bhealaic Dearg on the way back. Life does always go according to plan!
We arrived in Kintail late in the evening and spent the night in the carpark beneath Bealach na Lapain. Come morning the rucksacks and trekking poles were all out of the van and we were set to go before remembering that we were meant to be driving down the road. There was only one thing to do! change the plan and head straight up to the Bealach. We had previously considered the steep slopes of Bealach na Lapain a potential avalanche risk, but all the SAIS reports suggested that snow conditions were currently very stable, so fingers crossed it would not prove too steep.
3C249B29-D79D-4C58-A3F0-04F9D3861185.jpeg
The route.

The start of the walk was surprisingly pleasant, the path weaving backwards and forwards across the burn.
11BA3F1D-58BB-442A-8639-C72534A9E01D.jpeg
Lower down on the path to Bealach na Lapin

and one could always stop and admire Faochag across the road.
FACB566C-D145-4A74-B78F-A1428DFC2B71.jpeg
Faochag and its more famous neighbours

Rather than heading for the lowest point of the bealach we were aiming for its righthand side so parted ways with the path crossing over the Allt Ach a' Mharc-Olaich. The ground became steeper as we followed the burn upwards and somewhere around 700m altitude the snow became unavoidable. The snow was not deep or hard but there were short sections where the angle of the slope had us daggering with our axes. I was surprised to find that I felt quite comfortable making an ascent in this manner and wondered where my usual escort of squeaking mice had got too. (They must have been lagging behind as they caught up with me later on!).
4C2FE3D0-FE9C-4410-9C3D-6EAC5260DE98.jpeg
Daggering our way up to Bealach na Lapain.

By 10:20 we had reached the ridge, topping out about 70m above the Bealach.
13848C63-E661-49B3-AEA8-C63E3F00A61A.jpeg
Topping out onto the ridge

Here the snow was much firmer so crampons were donned. Although cloud was billing around the tops on the South Sheil Ridge we were enjoying almost continuous sunshine and blue skies on our side of the road! :D
04BC2A19-7F51-4C02-A955-C5CC92D89B32.jpeg
Saileag ahead

4B8976CB-400E-4CF8-A517-6CBD9CC22019.jpeg
The Sisters behind us

E1453B8D-8467-4581-9532-0AC2652D9B1C.jpeg
South Shiel Ridge over the Road

11:30 and we were standing on Saileag's summit. It's cairn must be very small as it was nowhere in sight! I checked with Viewranger to check we were on the right hump before taking the summit photos.
9FE6C7E0-C78E-451E-B85D-121F0F143619.jpeg
Saileag

991A8B42-4AA6-4838-A438-DC11DCA43A9E.jpeg
Saileag

We are not really hill baggers as such, regarding the route taken as important as the summits, so although ascending via Bealach na Lapain had enabled us to reach Saileag we still had unfinished business with the ridge to Sgurr a Bhealaic Dheirg.
Leaving the summit was easy enough
F920F975-4DDA-40F5-8F9E-D51716949D4A.jpeg
Leaving the summit

7AB410D3-9077-4903-A435-D54BADF62995.jpeg

There were impressive snow formations and cornices
1773B9FF-4B94-40C6-9979-E41290E7FAA7.jpeg
Impressive cornices

and some fun easy scrambley bits
0C6C1B0E-8294-4101-93E9-646EA1CD801C.jpeg
Easy scrambley bits


and then came the surprise arete.
The wind had changed direction dramatically in the last day or two and in doing so had blown snow from both directions to form a narrow arete on top of a rocky slab. The snow was firmish, but by no means rock solid and no sign of where the path would normally lie. We edged carefully along, what seemed the least steep side with ice axes plunged to the hilt on the far side of the arete unsure if there was anything solid beneath our feet or not. (Bring on the squeaking mice choir!).
EE4EAE78-714D-4697-B1A0-AA56CEB9A267.jpeg
F748FBA2-039E-4E0A-B7F0-EB1C23187C18.jpeg
The arete
38C9E9FD-FDEC-485C-9C86-868CB8C57A88.jpeg
The arete from the other side

It felt far more exposed than it looks in the photo's. I am not sure which was worse, watching my other half edging across or creeping along myself. At least when you are moving the concentration takes president over the anxiety. It was a great relief to reach the other side and breath!
The arete was decidedly the crux of the route but not long after getting our feet back on solid ground we reached a rocky section of ridge.
5FB2CC94-9F63-4B2F-B3A2-FA1143A8F03E.jpeg
Rocky section of ridge

As this is not mentioned in any route descriptions I suspect it is avoidable when not covered in snow. My OH tackled it straight on, with one or two tricky bridging moves, made harder by the crampons.
2EE28940-97B2-48CC-B189-361B94E163FB.jpeg
Heading for the crest.

I tried traversing underneath the rocks but realised that regaining the ridge was going to be trickier than the top of it so climbed back upsome steep hard snow having just swapped one layer of difficulty for another.
529D313C-A5E5-4038-9237-23B01CCF3B4A.jpeg
Emerging from my diversion.

Then with the excitement behind us we were able to enjoy the sheer splendour of the situation
0A08FEBF-4E1A-4560-A763-EBB81EFB805C.jpeg
Looking along the ridge to Saileag

The wind speeds were increasing, and despite numerous attempts we could not catch the spindrift on camera. It did however make a splendid excuse not to totter out to Sgurr a' Bhealaic Dheirg! and to be honest my bravery supply was empty :lol: . So we carried on down,
A2E55BDA-AEBD-4F77-88BA-73682CDD5C0A.jpeg
On our way down.

enjoying the scenery and the cloud formations
E9783059-7C6C-4609-8133-24C365BB717E.jpeg
.
Feeling in need of nourishment we stopped to brew up, but it was a stop that didn't go well. The stove struggled in the wind and it took ten minutes to boil up some snow! Everything was blowing around and the cold was seeping through my belay jacket.
17EF6792-7A6F-42BD-A135-07FC46CEC27A.jpeg
An ill fated stop!

Glad to be on the move again and following the route towards Meall a'Charra, I discovered my phone battery was nearly flat, I neglected to put it in airplane mode! No more photos!
Before reaching Meall a Charra we headed down the side of the hill towards the gap in the forestry and on reaching the fence followed the eastern side of the stream down to the road having learnt from past experience that this is the easiest route across the rough ground.
A 3km walk down the road got us back to the van for 17:00.
Saileag may not be the most inspiring munro but in winter the ridge definitely provided us with an exciting day.
We have made something of a project going up and down the individual peaks in Kintail in winter and have found it an excellent area for exciting winter walks with stunning scenery and the added bonus of being able to plan shorter routes to fit the day light hours.
Last edited by Cairngorm creeper on Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Cairngorm creeper
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 701
Munros:147   Corbetts:22
Grahams:6   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:15
Wainwrights:9   
Joined: Jun 4, 2013
Location: Grantown-on-spey

Re: Saileag in Winter 3rd Time Lucky

Postby larry groo » Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:53 pm

Fabulous!

:clap: :clap: :clap:
User avatar
larry groo
 
Posts: 557
Joined: Apr 19, 2010
Location: Angus

Re: Saileag in Winter 3rd Time Lucky

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:41 pm

larry groo wrote:Fabulous!

:clap: :clap: :clap:

Thank you! It was a fabulous day!
User avatar
Cairngorm creeper
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 701
Munros:147   Corbetts:22
Grahams:6   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:15
Wainwrights:9   
Joined: Jun 4, 2013
Location: Grantown-on-spey

Re: Saileag in Winter 3rd Time Lucky

Postby jacob » Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:35 pm

Now there's some excellent photos CC! Only the best of what winter has got to offer. Well captured.
User avatar
jacob
 
Posts: 489
Munros:18   Corbetts:5
Grahams:4   
Hewitts:16
Joined: Mar 4, 2015
Location: East of Felixstowe ;)

Re: Saileag in Winter 3rd Time Lucky

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:42 pm

jacob wrote:Now there's some excellent photos CC! Only the best of what winter has got to offer. Well captured.

Thank you Jacob. It was the last day before the thaw! Kintail has some superb winter outings! Hopefully the snow will be back, we were in Glen Coe this week and it was more like summer, the only snow at the top of the Corrie paths to catch out the walkers!
User avatar
Cairngorm creeper
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 701
Munros:147   Corbetts:22
Grahams:6   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:15
Wainwrights:9   
Joined: Jun 4, 2013
Location: Grantown-on-spey

8 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).




Walkhighlands community forum is advert free


Your generosity keeps this site running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Mantress and 57 guests