I'm always ready to try a new route on a local hill, especially if it is a nice one like Bac na Eich. Not a very popular Corbett, but one with great character. We had already tried several different approaches to this mountain, including Coire na Feola route, but I was intrigued by a possibility of a direct climb up Creag Coire na Feola and then traversing to the summit. I called this idea "Bac na Eich direttissima" and it never left my mind until I eventually dragged Kevin up the steep slope.
According to Wikipedia: "A direttissima (Italian for "shortest link") is a climbing term meaning a direct climb to the summit of a mountain up the fall line from the valley base to the top. Whilst the normal route aims to find the way with the least difficulty, the climber attempting a direttissima faces the challenge of ascending the mountain in a more "direct" way. "
In Reinhold Messner's opinion, diretissimas always exist - so long as the mountain permits it.
Of course, I wouldn't even dare comparing myself to Mr Messner. My version of "direttisima" would probably be laughable for any rock climber, or even for advanced scramblers. But having walked past the steep northern end of Creag Coire na Feola, I always wondered, was this direct approach possible. Well, it is. I checked it
In the first days post-lockdown we were looking for decent routes close to home and the BnE variation seemed a good idea. We started from the car park at the end of the public road in Glen Strathconon and followed the track to the ruins of Corriefeol.
Allt Coire na Feola wasn't much of an obstacle today:
We met some curious locals:
On the stalkers path into Coire Mhoraigein, Maoile Lunndaidh in the distance:
As the path turned into the corrie, we slowed down to study the slopes above us, looking for the best line of ascent. The hillside didn't look too scary, just steep:
So up we went. I was surprised how easy the direttissima was. Soft grass almost all the way, with occasional scattered rock. Yes, it was steep and I wouldn't recommend this slope in descent (unless you want to give your knees a good bashing ) but I felt like a grasshopper on a green meadow rather than somebody going directly "up the fall line"
Views were tremendous from the very beginning. We were gaining height quickly so even the distant peaks came into view... Guess what, it's Slioch on the horizon!
View into upper Strathconon to Maoile Lunndaidh:
We aimed for the northern end of the ridge:
Zoom to the Fannichs, Sgurr Mor and Sgurr nan Clach Geala dominating the view:
Somebody here is seriously hill-starved!
Having reached the top of the steep section, we stopped for a longer breather and took time to appreciate the views. The northern cliffs fall almost vertically from 720m down to about 200m and on a good day, one can see not only the panorama of the upper Strathconon with River Meig, but as far as Torridon, Fannichs and Fisherfields to the north.
The river beneath our feet:
A man on a mission:
Showing off my new French Legionary hat (very practical for protecting one's neck without smearing sunscreen all over clothes):
Zoom to Torridon:
There was a bit of haze in the air so the more distant photos were not as clear as in spring days but still we took some nice snaps. Kevin mentioned sandwiches, but I preferred to wait with lunch till we got to the summit of Creag Coire na Feola.
The final walk to the top doesn't look hard from below...
...and climbing with such views around is indeed a privilege:
He Who Always Knows It Best decided, he needed some extra fun, so he began to look for optional scrambling...
Upper Strathconon panorama:
The summit of Bac Na Eich from Creag Coire na Feola (which is a Simm and a Corbett Top if anybody cares )
The summit area of CCF has several small cairns and rocky lumps, according to Hill bagging the summit feature is just "rock", so we picked the one that looked the highest and made it our lunch spot. We were now on 770m and had good vistas in all directions, especially to the giants of Strathfarrar:
Traversing to the main summit wasn't much more than a pleasant stroll now, the ground was relatively dry and the sun came out. Not the warmest of days, but the whole summer this year is rather cool (at least in Scotland).
The summit of Bac na Eich is a good example of "mountain p**n hotspot". Come here on a clear day if you want to play hillspotting, gaze in the distance or simply sink in the beauty of the Highlands.
Lucy on the summit with Torridon behind her:
The other Strathconon Corbetts:
View due north:
Silly poses on the summit! Note Kevin is still wearing his knee support, though his leg was feeling slightly better today. Those annoying knee injuries take ages to heal!
We had several options for the return route but descending via the lovely long glen of Coire Mhoraigein has always been our personal favourite:
We noticed several fresh-looking landslides in Coire Mhoraigein, most likely from last year:
River Meig on the way back:
The final stroll to the car park:
I'm not sure we have exhausted all possible routes for Bac na Eich. The next step would be to combine it with the neighbouring Graham Beinn Mheadhoin, or maybe try the steep ascent via Sgurr Toll Lochain (if the mountain permits it!). Good to have such a versatile Corbett on our doorstep. Shame there are no plane crash sites here
My stories will continue (5 more TRs to write) so watch this space for more meowing
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