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Quinag - A magnificent way of conquering fears.
by Avocetboy » Fri Sep 11, 2015 2:50 pm
Route description: Quinag: three Corbetts
Corbetts included on this walk: Quinag - Sail Gharbh, Quinag - Spidean Coinich
Date walked: 17/08/2015
Time taken: 6 hours5 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).
I had been doing plenty of research and am always troubled at my ability to cope with my youngest son, Carter, being exposed to danger, but I have to admit that the sound words from BobmcBob responding to my fears on the recent Babies on Hills thread, had a significant impact on us succesfully completing this fantastic day out (Cheers Bob)...Plus, the never give up attitude of my Wife who took the initiative when I began to doubt whether the down climb from Spidean Coinich was a sensible thing for an 8 year old to be doing!
Quinag from Ardvrek
We needed a good day and Monday 17th August suggested blue skies and little wind. Perfect. The drive round from our digs in Drumbeg gave us plenty of opportunity to survey both Sail Gharbh and Sail Gorm
And so to the start. We crossed the road and followed the Walk Highland route and on reaching the cairn bared off to the left to start the steady haul up Creag Mhor. To be honest, this was a bit of a toil in the heat, but the gradient was steady and the walking easy on the large slabs.
Views began to open up with Ardvrek castle just visible on Loch Assynt
Eventually, after an hour or so, we reached the summit of Creag Mhor. A wonderful place with some amazing rock formations. We had a drink and a rest and this is the point at which the walk changed from a laborious slog up a hill, to a magnificent day in the mountains!!
The route up Spidean Coinich was clearly visible and from this view point it did look pretty steep
We climbed down off Creag Mhor to the small Lochan and were rewarded with a ptarmigan, superbly disguised against the rocks and were it not for the ridiculous noise it was making, it would probably have remained unseen
The climb up Spidean was no where near as steep as it looked and was great fun, especially with some cracking rock shapes, including this "arse" discovered by Carter, much to his amusement
Motivated by the thought of more interesting rocks, Carter was first to the summit of Spidean. (I was muttering under my breath about keeping away from the edge!)
Triumphantly we made it and Moley was ceremoniously hoisted to enhance her experience of the moment.
....and now things began to get interesting. Most of the hills we have climbed have mainly been straightforward up and downs, so having made the summit, the knowledge of knowing what you already have achieved makes the descent pretty straight forward. But today, this summit was only the start and as I peered anxiously down the descent route I was having certain reservations, but determined to be strong, I ushered the troops and down we went with me and the dog leading, followed by Carter and Becky at the back. However, feelings of trepidation were quickly diminished. It was great, nothing to be fearful of, just exhilarating and amazing views.
With the first down climb over we continued on our way with the pointy second top of Spidean our target.
We stopped for a quick break at the Lochan before heading up the grassy slopes.
...and this is where it got REALLY interesting. The WH route describes the second top as having "narrow grassy arete" with a steep down climb that "although steep, poses no difficulties"...mmmmmmm!!
and there it was, an arete approximately 10 metres in length and about 18" wide with some serious (OK, not vertical) drops both sides...and at the point the path just disappeared! I tiptoed my way along and was confronted with a huge down climb that looked exposed and pretty scary. I tiptoed my way back to Bec and Carter who could immediately sense that something was not quite right as I was walking as if I had sh*t myself. "I'm not sure if we should be doing this", I whispered in my wife's ear. Blatantly ignoring my concerns, the pair of them strode across the arete and started the ascent. Gobsmacked I was left with little choice other than to follow them with the dog and off we went.
And guess what? It was fantastic! Yes, it was slightly scary, but as I could see Carter in front of me, he was pretty much adopting a crab like position with 3 points of contact. There were drops, there was exposure, but you would have to deliberately veer away from the path for them to come into play. It must have taken about 20 minutes and at the end of it I felt like screaming at the top of my voice "We've made it..Look at us, we just descended THAT!!!!"
We stopped at the bealach and had some lunch whilst trying to photograph some of the little froglets on the tiny lochans. We then decided our next plan of attack. Carter was keen to ensure we achieved the highest summit, so we decided to go for Sail Gharbh. There were two routes. We could either go straight up the face of to the unamed top or take the traverse path that bypassed it. We took the latter as it looked pretty straight forward. As we neared the ridge, we passed a couple of path builders (what an amazing job they do). They had a spaniel with them. It approached Bec with a toy and dropped it at her feet. She attempted to throw it up to where the guys were working and to her horror it deflected and sped off down the slope, with the dog giving chase. Minutes later it returned only to be sent on its way again by the path builders. (What a dog! and what a life!!)
Eventually we reached the cairn at the ridge with the magnificent backdrop of Spidean behind.
From this point it was astraightforward, fantastic walk along the wide rocky ridge. Nothing to fear here and even a little bit of scrambling (if you wanted to) to reach the summit of Sail Gharbh. Once again, we had triumphantly summitted. Moley escaped the summit ritual on this occasion as she was feeling pretty tired and humiliated by the exploits of the Spaniel and needed a sleep.
I had a wander off towards the nose and contemplated our next step. We'd had a great day and Sail Ghorm looked a long walk away. This could wait another day and would give us the perfect opportunity and excuse to have to ascend again on another day
And so we set off wandering back with Spidean Coinich forever in our view, reminding us off what true and real mountaineers we had become!!!
The walk out was long and seemed to take forever. Eventually, after 6 hours we were back at the car, with a warm glow of satisfaction radiating from us all.
Later that evening we sat outside our holiday cottage with a glass of wine watching the sun go down and Quinag bathed in an orange glow. It's at moments like this and after days like that that you realise that Scotland, and in particular Assynt and Sutherland are, possibly, the most beautiful places on earth and we are lucky to be here.
by BoyVertiginous » Fri Sep 11, 2015 3:28 pm
Might join you for Sail Gorm next year.
by Petr Dakota » Fri Sep 11, 2015 7:45 pm
by BobMcBob » Fri Sep 11, 2015 8:00 pm
by Alteknacker » Fri Sep 11, 2015 8:56 pm
You're gifting your kids a truly priceless and lifelong treasure when you expose them to places like this at an early age; the experience is never forgotten and it never leaves them.
In years to come you will be SOOOO glad you conquered your concerns!!
by ancancha » Sat Sep 12, 2015 10:49 am
Nothing like a bit of scrambling with fabulous scenery to put a big grin on your face
by Walk cycle » Sun Sep 13, 2015 6:22 pm
by Avocetboy » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:27 am
Find me a path to descend from Sgurr nan Eagullt, Boy Vertiginous and, maybe....But, No way am I going down those gully's again!!!!
by dogplodder » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:57 am
by dooterbang » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:09 pm