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Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!


Postby GillC » Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:54 pm

Route description: Sgurr a' Mhaoraich, Loch Quoich

Munros included on this walk: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

Date walked: 23/03/2014

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 978m

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A planned 2 day trip of Munros had so far consisted of 1 sub 2000 (lovely though it was) We checked the weather again and decided to head up to the Invergarry road and Loch Quoich to take on Sgurr a Mhaoraich. Andy Smith was in the area on a Munro fest so we arranged to meet up at the start point around 9am.

Driving up from Corpach, by Laggan, Invergarry etc was lovely,,lots of fresh snow around on the trees and it was all very christmassy looking.

The last few miles are on single track and you really dont appreciate the time it takes to cover short distances, so a little later than planned, after much stopping for views, deer etc (hundreds of them up here and none too fazed by the cars/people) we arrived at the start point, only a minute or so in front of Andy.

9.jpg
An interesting angle of a curious stag


Another pair headed off just as we were kitting up, never to be seen again lol

You start this by the roadside and just climb, thankfully though,,there is a good path, which was easy to follow, as the 2 chaps in front kindly left their footprints. It zigzagged easily up from our starting point at 220mtrs to the more gradual Bac nan Canaichean shoulder and levelled off around 700mtrs.

2 Part of the zig zag path.jpg
art of the zig zag path


We could see a rounded top above us and a ridge leading to a jaggier top to the West, bit of debate and route checking, confirming the latter to be the summit.

3 Up to the summit, in the sunshine.jpg
Up to the summit, in the sunshine

4 Andy , but could be anyone in there  lol.jpg
Andy , but could be anyone in there lol


Continuing up B nan C, the views around us were stunning,,this really was a fabulous mountain day. We had one or two squally hail showers, all very dry but enough to have us scrabbling for the snow goggles, which remained on for much of the day, acting as protection from wind and hail at times,,others,,,just as glorified sunglasses,,very glary day.

5 Intrepid men o' the mountains.jpg
Intrepid men o' the mountains


The path turns West (ish) before reaching the top of Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach, the rounded top, at 891mtrs. The views to the top were great from here with the ridge between looking a bit scary, cornicing to the right , long sloping snow fields to the left and undulating rocky bits on the ridge itself. 3 consecutive bumps caught our attention, looked a bit tricky from here.

We had to cover some large areas of fairly deep snow, up over the knees for much of it. The footprints from the 2 guys in front,,who we never once caught sight of all day, appeared and disappeared over icy stretches, hidden under the hail that fell in short showers but were generally in evidence so we were able to follow on. We scanned the hill several times but saw no sign of movement to indicate their progress. A quick stop here for a bakewell tart and a drink.

7 The prints go THATAWAY.jpg
The prints go THATAWAY

6 Checking out the route ahead.jpg
Checking out the route ahead


From the top of Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach, the hill character changed, the North side became steep, snow covered crags heading off down to the Glenquoich forest and the corry below. Here we could see evidence of small and probably not recent avalanches. The cornicing and windswept snow formations were pretty impressive.
On several spots we could see cracking in the cornice to our right, poles in showed there was not a lot of ground under this and it was only a couple of feet to our right,,keep left Gill,,keep left. :crazy: (the wind was coming from our left so had to be careful here) One section showed a drop of a large amount of snow, still hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

10 Lovely but deadly.jpg
Lovely but deadly

9 John dwarfed against the windblown cornice.jpg
John dwarfed against the windblown cornice

8 Huge chunks of snow, ready to fall.jpg
Huge chunks of snow, ready to fall


Carrying on around the ridge we again assessed our options for the 3 rocky knolls with sheer snow sliding off down the slopes below. No idea how deep that was, or how secure so going across the snow field was not an option. The closer we got, we thought getting over the rocks would be the best way to go. The first of these was none too difficult but coming off, I saw Andy, already heading up the second. I watched as he struggled at a wee chimney, snow and steep grassy rock, poles were still out and appeared to be getting in his way a bit but using about 8 points of contact, knees, hands, chin etc,,he made it up and quickly disappeared from view over the top. John went next, a few feet up this short but steep section, and he decided to come down to don his crampons, no grip at all.
I decided to have a go, got to a wee ledge, with the broken snow up to the right where Andy had gone, tried this,,but very slippy and just couldn't seem to get both feet on a solid section. I was contemplating coming back down to put crampons on too but then tried a section of snow to the left. My arm went right in, up to my elbow,,realised this was possibly not as steep as the slippy rock to the right so started removing a lot of the snow and found a grassy section,, committed myself and heaved myself up and over pretty quickly. The fall back wouldn't have been far but was rocky and steep,,so this may not have been the sanest thing Ive ever done,,but I was up. Quickly followed by John.

Andy by this time was up on the 3rd top, shouting that it was a dawdle compared to the last one lol. This was still a fiddly wee fecker...but soon we were all up top. The ground was getting icier under the wind with melted stuff now freezing again. Andy put on his spikes,,I put on my waterproofs, for wind protection mainly and my crampons. Apologies to John for my shortness here,,,crampons were still set for my size 5 boots, I was now wearing a 6, both needed adjusting, my bum was cold and wet as I was was sitting on the ground and hadnt actually pulled up the waterproofs. crabbit cow! lol :lol: Ice axe out, poles away and onward.

So, all cosied up again, off we went, we couldn't see the top from here as we were pretty much under it. 2 peeps a way behind were now approaching the 3 rocky sections and had been noted standing back and staring,,as we had, to work out their options. (We did see the remnants of a path as we came off the third, so with no snow,, this would be your option, but today,,it was hidden at the top of a long sloping snow field,,avalanche risk, too risky)

The next section (and last) was steep, a wall of snow and some scrambling through and we made it to the top, lot of pulling etc. Arriving at around 1000 mtrs, Andy and John went off to check out the Western ridge as a possible descent, rather than a) returning by our ascent or b) using the WH route of the ridge to the North/North East. Then it was off to the big cairn and some summit pics.

12 Me, a cairn, a wonderful view, Munro #67.jpg
Me, a cairn, a wonderful view, Munro #67

11 Made it to the top.jpg
Made it to the top


We saw the footprints of 'those who went before' heading off down the ridge to the south that we planned on using, towards Leac nan Gaidhseich. The top being pretty rocky, with deep snow fields under it to the right, and sharp drops off to the left. Coming off the summit, we met the 2 guys behind, coming round the last steep bit by way of a detour. (Why didn't we see that?)

A quick chat and off they went to the summit. We headed back across the deep snow to the ridge top and on down to a sheltered spot for some more food and coffee. We pretty much stuck to the top of the ridge but even here there were pockets of pretty deep snow. The two we met near the summit chose to descend down the snow field but we saw them come up on to the ridge and cross over a bit further down. No evidence of a path at all but we did the best we could to avoid any major re-ascents.

13 Selfy,,looking a bit like Jacques Cousteau.jpg
Selfy,,looking a bit like Jacques Cousteau


My new boots were doing well,,but the balls of my feet were starting to burn, particularly the right one, which I knew had been tied a little more loosely all day. Eventually it was really pretty painful so as we neared the end of the snow line and could see the road below, John suggested he scoot off and bring the car back up the road. God bless that man lol Andy hung back with me while I struggled on. I had a different sock combo on today and I decided to follow Johns advice, removing the thinner sock I had on next to my feet, leaving only the thicker merino sock and tightening the laces. Fab,,worked instantly so I was able to then pick up the pace, of course,,then the left foot started doing the same. Repeated this on the left and again,,immediate improvement so off I trotted down the hill.

14 Off down the ridge.jpg
Off down the ridge


Pretty soon, we were below the snow line and saw John driving up in the car, only 5 mins or so later, we were back on the road, feet feeling fine now and a glorious snowy, sunny evening around us.

15 The road in sight at Loch Quoich.jpg
The road in sight at Loch Quoich


This hill took us over 7 hrs, in tough underfoot snowy conditions but was a fantastic day, great views, good chat and company, this is the stuff that good mountain days are made of.

16 Well deserved wee drinky by the road.jpg
Well deserved wee drinky by the road


Thanks guys for a smashing, epic day.
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GillC
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby PeteR » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:14 pm

Some great pictures there Gill :D It's a hill with great views.

Did this one last winter/spring, with a fair bit of snow still around. The scrambly section was not too bad, but I can imagine it's a challenge with snow and ice.

Possibly one of my favourite days on the hills to date this one and great to be reminded :D
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby dogplodder » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:33 pm

That sounded a bit harder going than the day I did it! What a great hill and views though. :D
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby GillC » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:41 pm

dogplodder wrote:That sounded a bit harder going than the day I did it! What a great hill and views though. :D


Tough in places indeed, a lot of fresh soft deep snow to slow us down :roll:
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby simon-b » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:02 pm

An adventurous day with some spectacular scenery, Gill. The weather's been mixed over the last few days, but the good days have been great.
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby Tomsie » Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:59 am

Fantastic views from here, could have stayed all day just sitting there .
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby The Rodmiester » Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:31 pm

That looks a great day on the hill. Love the lovely but deadly photograph, the others are no bad as well :lol: great stuff for getting out! :)
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby Klaasloopt » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:30 pm

Love the carmirror-pic !
This report wets my appetite. Thanks :thumbup:
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby GillC » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:32 pm

Klaasloopt wrote:Love the carmirror-pic !
This report wets my appetite. Thanks :thumbup:

:D
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby MG1976 » Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:01 pm

Nice report Gill, and some great pictures.
Only makes me jealous that I live in the wrong country.

Hope you all enjoy Ullapool, looking forward to seeing some great reports.
Martin
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:03 pm

Brilliant report and pics, love the one of the deer in the side mirror and the ones of the cornices :D Sounds like a fabulous day.
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby GillC » Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:05 pm

MG1976 wrote:Nice report Gill, and some great pictures.
Only makes me jealous that I live in the wrong country.

Hope you all enjoy Ullapool, looking forward to seeing some great reports.
Martin



hey Martin,,,im not going to Ullapool,,i thought you were though,,saw your name down. Hopefully get round other commitments and get at least a wee hill in this weekend, As for the wrong country,,what ya gonna do when you need a passport to come north of the border lol
:crazy:
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby Tomsie » Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:28 pm

Few more photo's

100_0627.JPG


100_0635.JPG


100_0639.JPG


100_0640.JPG


100_0643.JPG


100_0653.JPG


:D :D :D
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby MG1976 » Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:35 pm

Nice pictures Tomsie, but who was the smart ar$e, peeing the date into the snow ?
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Re: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich - Smashing and Epic in equal parts!

Postby GillC » Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:46 pm

MG1976 wrote:Nice pictures Tomsie, but who was the smart ar$e, peeing the date into the snow ?



you mean you dont recognise my handwriting?? lol :lol:
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