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Cul Mor: silence before the storm

Cul Mor: silence before the storm

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:51 pm

Route description: Cul Mor

Corbetts included on this walk: Cul Mor

Date walked: 05/03/2019

Time taken: 6.25 hours

Distance: 14.3 km

Ascent: 879m

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Tuesday the 5th of March was forecast to be a sunny affair in the far north of Scotland. After the windy Sub'2 experience on Sunday, it was great to go to a higher mountain for a change.Our car has just passed the MOT with flying colours so the idea of a quick trip to the weird word of Assynt was hatched. We had already climbed all Corbetts and Grahams in Assynt so with no pressure on our shoulders, we could pick whatever we wanted and simply enjoy the walk. I was keen to repeat Cul Mor as it's been a while since we visited this Corbett.

We knew that storm Freya was coming on Wednesday and I was desperate to walk off some recent stress (it's called bureaucracy and it makes me sick). Because weather has turned colder and it rained in Beauly the day before, we were convinced that a hill as high as Cul Mor will harbour some fresh snow. To our surprise, there was very little. A thin layer covering the rocks on the north facing slopes, that's all. We didn't even bother taking crampons, just packed YackTracks, and we didn't even need these. The day was bright, the wind was low and if it wasn't for the cold air, one might think we were climbing this hill in May or June!

Track_CUL MOR 05-03-19.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Cul Mor from the car park:
2019-03-05 cul mor 005.JPG

We started on the well-made stalkers patch which makes the first half of the climb really easy. We didn't push it too fast, just enjoyed a rare sunny day in the current unsettled spell of weather. As we walked up, we spotted a small herd of deer grazing nearby.
Friends from the hills and Cul Beg in the background:
2019-03-05 cul mor 009.JPG

Further north, the Assynt Munros held on to more snow:
2019-03-05 cul mor 023.JPG

Canisp looked as snowless as our target Corbett:
2019-03-05 cul mor 024.JPG

The path took us up all the way to the small top of Meall Diomhain (609m) where we stopped for a short photo session. I was a bit concerned that we didn't take enough water with us (didn't expect it to be as warm as it felt at the moment!) but the hill looked so tasty that no force could stop me from going all the way to the summit!
2019-03-05 cul mor 028.JPG

The NW pano: Canisp, Suilven, Quinag:
2019-03-05 cul mor 030.JPG

Distant An Teallach to the south:
2019-03-05 cul mor 033.JPG

Across the slight dip of Fliuch-choire, we climbed up the western shoulder of Cul Mor, right to the edge of the hidden corrie, Coire Gorm. It didn't matter that we've been here before, this is a superb mountain, one to visit many times and best saved for good weather.
Suilven in its full glory:
2019-03-05 cul mor 041.JPG

For the final 200m to the summit, the route follows the edge of the corrie. It's steep-ish and bouldery higher up, but no scrambling required:
2019-03-05 cul mor 055.JPG

Not required, but it's nice to scramble up a few large rocks for mountain explorations, especially if you are a mad cat:
2019-03-05 cul mor 056.JPG

View north from just below the summit:
2019-03-05 cul mor 063.JPG

The boulderfield was a bit wobbly in places and covered in thin layer of snow as it was facing north, but I was too eager to get to the top to pay much attention to unstable rocks:
2019-03-05 cul mor 071.JPG

Gotcha! Not a new hill for us, but Corbett no. 83 for Lucy!
2019-03-05 cul mor 093.JPG

It was now time for a summit picnic! We sat down and stretched out, enjoying the clear weather. Views around us were fantastic in all directions, especially to the north, but also south and west to other Assynt hills. There is no place in Assynt with bad views :D
NE to Loch Veyatie and Cam Loch, Assynt Munros to the left:
2019-03-05 cul mor 076.JPG

South to Cul Mor, Stac Pollaidh and Coigach Grahams:
2019-03-05 cul mor 086.JPG

WH route suggests taking a short detour along Sron Gharbh, the western ridge of Cul Mor. We decided we would only do this if weather allowed us, but as conditions looked fine, we were happy to explore the hill a bit more:
2019-03-05 cul mor 089.JPG

The detour only takes an extra hour or even less, but I don't recommend doing it fast. Take your time, savour every step and sink in every view. This is the way to properly see Cul Mor for what it really is: a formidable fortress with many steep flanks, a mountain with loads of character, a peak of many faces. Also, some curiously shaped rocks:
2019-03-05 cul mor 097.JPG

The ridge to Sron Gharbh:
2019-03-05 cul mor 108.JPG

Stac Pollaidh, despite its modest height, dominates the view to the south-west:
2019-03-05 cul mor 111.JPG

Panoramic snap of Coire Gorm:
2019-03-05 cul mor 120.JPG

The cliffs of Coire Gorm below the summit of Cul Mor. This is the side of the mountain you will never see if you just do an up-and-down run to the summit!
2019-03-05 cul mor 138.JPG

We followed the edge of the cliffs towards Sron Gharbh, taking far too many stops for pictures!
2019-03-05 cul mor 131.JPG

Suilven seen face-on. Another mountain which is due for a repeat!
2019-03-05 cul mor 149.JPG

On Sron Gharbh with Stac Pollaidh behind me:
2019-03-05 cul mor 145.JPG

The western end of the ridge drops down almost vertically, and the view west into the world of land and water is breathtaking. I don't even want to attempt to name all the lochs and lochans in this labyrinth of water, but it's one of the best views I have ever seen in Scotland. So no more words, just enjoy it as much as I did in "live" version!
2019-03-05 cul mor 172.JPG

2019-03-05 cul mor 166.JPG

South to Cul Mor and Ben More Coigach:
2019-03-05 cul mor 165.JPG

After another lengthy photo session, we walked back along the ridge, to visit the southern top of Cul Mor, Creag nan Calman. There is no need to climb it but it makes for a nice addition and offers some more exhilarating views!
The thing to climb:
2019-03-05 cul mor 176.JPG

Panther ready for more on Cul Mor!
2019-03-05 cul mor 178.JPG

We kept taking detours to the edge of the cliffs, simply to find the best vantage points. There are very few places in Scotland that make my heart skip a beat - and this corner of Assynt, when seen from above, certainly did that!
2019-03-05 cul mor 199.JPG

The climb to Creag nan Calman was easy enough, the ground was frosty but there was a good path to follow.
The western cliffs of Creag nan Calman:
2019-03-05 cul mor 209.JPG

The weird world of land and water:
2019-03-05 cul mor 212.JPG

Do we have to go home???
2019-03-05 cul mor 216.JPG

To get back down, we descended the eastern spur of Creag nan Calman, where we spied a sketchy path. Later, we followed a more obvious path down this wee stream:
2019-03-05 cul mor 220.JPG

Finally, we returned to Meallan Diomhain, where we picked the upper end of the stalker's path (it is marked with a small cairn). Now it was just a matter of retracing our steps back to the car. Not that we did that very quickly. Weather was still holding so there was no need to hurry. We wanted to enjoy the good weather while it lasted. We spotted a pair of ptarmigan and a mountain hare: the wildlife was out and about :D
2019-03-05 cul mor 226.JPG

Back in the car, we were in good spirits, definitely feeling better and more optimistic about life. It's true that mountains have that great "cleansing" ability. A day spent up there, surrounded with all the beauties of this amazing landscape, heals the wounds and fills ones heart and soul with optimism. Life simply CAN'T be bad as long as places like Assynt still exist :D
And special thanks to today's hero - the mighty Cul Mor!
2019-03-05 cul mor 228.JPG

On the way down home, we noticed that the forecast cloudy weather was pushing in from the south:
2019-03-05 cul mor 230.JPG

...and we knew that Storm Freya was on our doorstep. It has eventually arrived in the late evening and stayed for the whole Wednesday, so instead of getting soaked on the mountains, we got soaked with paint, doing some home DIY :lol: :lol: But on Thursday, with slightly better conditions forecast for the western coast, we set off again to spend a day in the equally beautiful world of Moidart. TR in progress :D
Last edited by BlackPanther on Tue Oct 29, 2019 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cul Mor: silence before the storm

Postby litljortindan » Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:51 pm

Great choice! I've not been along to the western end but it looks well worth it. I was on Meallan a' Chuail the same day but didn't quite get as many fluffy white clouds to enhance my photos.
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Re: Cul Mor: silence before the storm

Postby naepace » Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:12 pm

I really need to head up there one day, fantastic pics :clap:
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Re: Cul Mor: silence before the storm

Postby malky_c » Fri Mar 15, 2019 2:22 pm

Perfect de-stress, with or without snow 8) . That ridge out to the west is great - when I camped up there a couple of years ago, I took my dinner over there to eat and watch the sun set.
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Re: Cul Mor: silence before the storm

Postby NeepNeep » Fri Mar 15, 2019 4:53 pm

We love this hill. One of our favourites in our favourite place. Assynt is so beautiful. We did it 3/4 years ago at a similar time with similar blue skies but with more snow. Absolutely great day on the hill and were lucky to see a pair of snow buntings whilst we ate lunch at the col. Great WR. Thanks.
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Re: Cul Mor: silence before the storm

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:57 pm

Great report and lovely photos BP. We had a beautiful day on Cul Mor in November, our first visit but I am sure it won't be our last. Definitely one to savour!
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Re: Cul Mor: silence before the storm

Postby dav2930 » Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:39 pm

Nice report and photos BP :clap: . A good bit of timing there to catch such a fine day before the storm blew in! I really must visit this unique area one of these days!
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Re: Cul Mor: silence before the storm

Postby Coop » Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:43 pm

Fantastic and good timing with this report, as I'll be on Cul Mor next Friday- although I know there will be a log more snow.
Cheers- looks a great hill with great views
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