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Ridiculous week part 1

Ridiculous week part 1


Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:46 pm

Route description: Sgurr nan Conbhairean, Carn Ghluasaid and Sail Chaorainn

Munros included on this walk: Carn Ghluasaid, Sgurr nan Conbhairean

Date walked: 13/03/2016

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Sgurr nan Conbhairean seemed a good target for the first day of our holiday at the Saddle hostel in Invergarry. The forecast was for a layer of cloud, but above-the-summits. The forecast was right - we did not have the glorious sunshine we enjoyed for the rest of the week, but conditions were a lot better-than-average for the time of year.

Funnily enough, like my earlier stay in this area (see http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=58389) the brooding light gave a sombre beauty to all these hills around Cluanie. So I decided that the Sgurr nan C set of pics was worth including and doing a TR for them.

With a flurry of avalanches a week or so before, it seemed sensible to use south-facing ridge routes - and the stalkers' path up Carn Ghlusaid seemed ideal in that respect. Our plans turned out correct, apart from one minor problem - more of that later...

It is a quick drive from Invergarry to the parking spot at Loch Cluanie, and we followed the military road up to near the radio antenna. The skyline here is Creag a'Mhaim and Druim Shionnach.

ImageIMG_6577 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The stalkers' path branches off very obviously near the antenna, and is well-graded and easy to follow. Where the path crosses slabs, the route is marked by a line of boulders.

ImageIMG_6586 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

From here we had a steely vista of Spidean Mialach behind Creag a'Mhaim's east ridge.

ImageIMG_6592 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

As we climbed, peaks emerged to the west too, above the Drochaid an Tuill Easaich ridge. Right to left - Aonach Meadhoin, Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg and Sgurr Fhuaran.

ImageIMG_6608 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

At this point the path, which has been so easy, ran straight into a bank of deep snow. High temperatures made the snowdrift like a giant soggy meringue. We avoided it by going straight up the slope and emerged on the ridge line of Carn Ghlusaid with a great view down to Loch Cluanie and the whole South Cluanie ridge.

ImageIMG_6626 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

To the South, brooding light filtered through onto the loch below the Druim nan Cnamh - Beinn Loinne ridge.

ImageIMG_6635 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The flat summit of Carn Ghlusaid does not really feel like a Munro in itself, because the ridge to the West undulates, rather than dips properly, before rising to the obviously much bigger Sgurr nan Conbhairean. Of which there were great views from the edge of the scarp...

ImageIMG_6650 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Sgurr nan Conbhairean looms massively beyond the cairn while we make important decisions about snacks.

ImageIMG_6659 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Moody Blues - strange glowing light away in the west gave an almost blue fluorescence to Sgurr na Carnach and Sgurr Fhuaran, beyond Aonach Meadhoin and Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg.

ImageIMG_6664 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

We set off westwards, with views of the cornicing all along the ridgeline

ImageIMG_6678 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Occasional glimpses of Loch Cluanie far below

ImageIMG_6676 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Trogging along with the cornices for company...

ImageIMG_6690 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The last col below the rise to Sgurr nan Conbhairean. Beyond Aonach Meadhoin are Faochag and the Saddle, with the Sgurr nan Forcan and the dark line of its arete immediately below the summit.

ImageIMG_6696 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Before starting the plod up to the summit, we looked back at the South Cluanie ridge - this is Aonach air Chrith, with Maol Chinn-Dearg beyond.

ImageIMG_6699 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Starting out on the climb up the summit ridge... bits and bobs of cloud blowing past us

ImageIMG_6706 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

However we could still look over the edge down into the cavernous Glen Doe

ImageIMG_6711 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

A happy moment - the summit cairn. Although we were now briefly in full-on clag, we still got a sense of the dominance of this peak and its supporting ridges and faces dropping away steeply on all sides. A superb mountain-top which I must revisit in clear weather!

ImageIMG_6717 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

But then things improved - a gap in the cloud gave us a view westwards. The ridges bottom-to-top are Drochaid an Tuill Easaich, south ridge of A'Chralaig, the peaks of Aonach Meadhoin, Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg, and in the distance Sgurr na Sgine and Faochag, with The Saddle head-in-the-clouds.

ImageIMG_6737 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

To the north-west we could see Mullach Fraoch-Choire and Sgurr nan Ceathreamnan.

ImageIMG_6744 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

As we are not counting Munros we did not need, or want, to add on the dog-leg of Sail Chaorainn. One for another day and nice weather. Time to head on down.

ImageIMG_6748 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

And down...

ImageIMG_6761 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

We did not need to go back up to Carn Ghusaid, instead we contoured the head of the shallow southern corrie of the range (Coire Lair?) to rejoin the stalkers' path at the ridgeline. One of our party was a bit faster than the rest of us and sat on the ridge-top waiting for us.

ImageIMG_6772 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The sting in the tail was the big snowdrift across the path. We decided to cross it to reach a relatively snow-free slope. Mostly the crossing was fine - deep steps in a yielding pile of mush - but at one point my foot went in too deep, jarring my metal knee.

The snow half-solidified in a kind of giant Slush Puppy around my boot, trapping me. I had to dig it out laboriously using my ice axe. Not my finest hour.

The twist on my knee meant that sadly I had to take one day off climbing hills later in the week, although I did put that day to extremely good scenic use, as a later report will show.


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HalfManHalfTitanium
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Re: Ridiculous week part 1

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Mar 29, 2016 11:58 pm

Looks like a fine ridge, and I have this in mind for later in the year, so thanks for posting.
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Alteknacker
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Re: Ridiculous week part 1

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:02 am

Alteknacker wrote:Looks like a fine ridge, and I have this in mind for later in the year, so thanks for posting.


Cheers Alteknacker, yes a good ridge route. I'd recommend making it a horseshoe by descending the Drochaid an Tuill Easaich ridge.

When we were there, all the melting snowdrifts meant that we decided to go back down the way we'd come - but that ridge looked like a fine descent route in normal conditions.
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HalfManHalfTitanium
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Posts: 1442
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Joined: Mar 11, 2015

Re: Ridiculous week part 1

Postby Beery Hiker » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:07 am

You managed to salvage some pretty decent pictures from the greyest day of the week. I've added my report of the day you missed on Aonach Meadhoin.
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Beery Hiker
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