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Heavenly Quinag (doesn't suffer fools}

Heavenly Quinag (doesn't suffer fools}

Postby steviesea » Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:14 pm

Route description: Quinag: three Corbetts

Corbetts included on this walk: Quinag - Sàil Gharbh, Quinag - Sàil Ghorm, Quinag - Spidean Coinich

Date walked: 02/06/2019

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 14.8 km

Ascent: 1251m

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Before setting off to Scotland I'd intended to stay at the Glen Nevis campsite in order to tackle the Ben via Carn Mor Dearg and the Arete from the car park at the very end of the road, but whilst looking at the website noticed that they were fully booked, even for tents :shock: so phoned them to check and it turned out the mountain biking world cup was taking place that weekend. Typical of my luck.
After the Ben I was going to make my way back up to the far North after falling in love with it last year, so plan B turned out to be: going the whole way in 1 go. Including stops it took me 12 hours from setting off at 3.45am to finding a pitch at the lovely Scourie campsite.
After travelling all the roads in the Assynt area last year and seeing the magnificent Quinag from the various angles available I knew I HAD to come back to climb it this year, and now I was up in the area it might as well be the next day as changeable weather predictions made planning for perfect weather days futile. As it turned out, it was a mixed bag, starting off a little overcast, then a mixture of downpours and sunny spells thereafter.
I followed the standard route and at the start there was a box containing info about Quinag provided by the John Muir trust, who steward the hill and amongst other things have repaired the path, which made me feel an affinity with the hill having recently become a member.

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Heading up ridge

As I reached a stone cairn/shelter just before the slight descent the heavens opened and I feared the worst for the rest of the day. luckily it was a passing shower and cleared after about 10 minutes.

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Not far from first summit

On reaching the summit the glimpses of views took my breath away but it was here that I first encountered the fast flowing cloud. Fantastic scenes would suddenly reveal themselves, but by the time it took to just get my phone out and swipe the camera icon the bloody cloud had ruined the shot :-x After about 10 pics had been lost to clag or wispy cloud, I decided to stop bothering about photos and just enjoy the reality of the (fleeting) views.

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At times the sea and multitude of lochs and lochans looked like pools of mercury tho sadly this doesn't show from using phone shots, cloud or no cloud.
Talking of clouds I loved the way these looked like giant waves lapping over the likes of Ben More Assynt and Conival
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Loch Assynt with giant wave behind

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The way ahead

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From here until ascending from the bealach it became either clag or fast moving mist but from there to the summit of Sail Gorm it was much improved.

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Spidean Coinch looking fine

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Descending to the next bealach there was a projecting airy platform that reminded of Pride Rock on the Lion King
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I can almost see Mufasa presenting Simba

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That's far enough for me

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View NW from Pride Rock

Moving on up the ridge toward Sail Gorm I passed the great cleft in the cliffs where I made a massive mistake on the return :shock: :thumbdown:
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The cleft

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Looking back

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Across to Sail Gharbh

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Summit of Sail Ghorm

The weather looked to be changing for the worse so I tried to photo some of the vistas before they were lost
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View to Kylesku bridge (not really visible here)

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Looking ominous. Rainy Suilven to the left

On leaving the summit for the return down the ridge, the rain and cloud came in. My glasses soon steamed up and covered in raindrops, so I took them off as my vision was slightly better without them. That was not the case when it came to navigation with either map or viewranger app as I could read sod all, but I wasn't overly bothered because there was a path of sorts, and I was returning from where I'd not long since been so I knew the way :roll: Big mistake.

The path was lost at 1 stage but ahead I could see the cleft where the path skirts by so just kept heading for it (instead of stopping and drying my specs to check) It seemed a lot steeper than I remembered and with it being full of swirling cloud the plunging cliffs seemed way more dangerous than before. I was telling myself to just keep going as I knew that once past the cleft it was a safe broad ridge down to the bealach.
It was getting worse. Instead of being safer I was seemingly surrounded by sheer precipices and I was pretty much on the edge. I had to quell the panic, but I was bloody scared and knew I had to back track. There was no way I could force myself back past the wrong cleft because the flight reflex had kicked in and I just had to get away from the cliffs to a safer spot. So the only way was turn around 180 degrees and ascend up what seemed like steep grass, but it soon became clear that the surface was rocks covered in a thin layer of grass that was hardly attached so was really slippy as it often just came away in my hands or underfoot.
I was getting close to panicking so decided to just stop, sit down, regain my senses and try to navigate back to the path. It was bloody uncomfortable sitting at that angle but I managed to regain composure and even had a bite to eat and a drink, whilst trying to erase thoughts of plunging drops. I then wiped my specs enough to see viewranger to find out what had gone wrong. I could see that about a 10th of a mile before reaching the cleft (the proper one) I'd started drifting to the right (west) and had ended up on a prominence directly above the real cleft. Even then, it took me a couple of adjustments to get the correct line back to the path as I'd totally lost my bearings.
Anyway, once safely back to the path there were no further incidents and almost immediately passed the real cleft which left me wondering what the hell I was thinking as it was nothing like the other one. I made a mental note to count this episode as a lesson learned, and from now on not to make assumptions that you know where you are without backing it up with facts, because the mind can play tricks and give you false confidence, (it's a cleft so it must be THE cleft :oops: DOH!!! ) just as it had when I carried on regardless whilst deep down I knew it was all wrong.

Back to the walk; it had stopped raining but from there to the summit of Sail Gharbh the clag was down so sadly no views there
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Sail Gharbh summit

The photo belies the strength of the wind which had picked up since gaining the ridge, and was really strong from leaving the summit until descending from the ridge. About half way down to Lochan Bealach Cornaidh the weather started to improve and happily didn't deteriorate again
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Spidean Coinich

Once back at the car, as often happens, the sun even made an appearance. Typical, seeing as I'd endured a fair amount of dubious weather, although that fact, and not even 'the incident' :wink: was going to spoil the memories of the day on my new favourite hill.

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Typical,Sail Gharbh in some sunshine.............. now

Quinag is, for me, the epitome of all I love about the Scottish mountains; absolute beauty yet brutal and demanding of utmost respect and never to be taken for granted.
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Re: Heavenly Quinag (doesn't suffer fools}

Postby SummitStupid » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:13 pm

After I got off Quinag I remember feeling that I'd had a perfect day. Objectively speaking, I think it's the finest mountain in Assynt. From start to finish it's a rocky rollercoaster with gorgeous views and interesting architecture, and never less than fun. Glad you enjoyed your day.
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Location: North Wales

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