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The Easains: two run-ins with the Bald Redhead of Fersit

The Easains: two run-ins with the Bald Redhead of Fersit

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:35 pm

Route description: Stob Coire Easain and Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin

Munros included on this walk: Stob a' Choire Mheadhoin, Stob Coire Easain

Date walked: 23/07/2018

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 16.5 km

Ascent: 1172m

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After a bad run of weekend on-call which meant that I hadn't managed to get out walking all July, I eventually used some Annual Leave and took a Monday-to-Wednesday break, 23rd-25th July, for some walking centred around Invergarry, as a sort of late birthday present to myself. The forecast for the Tuesday and Wednesday looked reasonably promising, but the Monday looked more iffy :? ... After a prolonged perusal of the www.mwis.org.uk forecast, I noticed that the best of the weather looked as though it would be around western Glen Spean, with "some breaks in the cloud" and even "occasional sunshine", although still only a 30% chance of cloud-free Munros. Well, that definitely looked like the best of a bad lot, so I set off from Glasgow not particularly early (being just a tad jaded after birthday celebrations the day before :lol: ) to drive up to Fersit and tackle the Easains ridge as a straightforward there-and-back-again walk, exactly as per the website route description..

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When I arrived at the car park at the end of the public road just short of Fersit around 10:30 a.m., the weather actually looked quite a bit better than the forecast, and there was even some blue sky around. Perhaps just as well, because the steep end of the Easains ridge was looking decidedly intimidating from here, and I'm not sure that I'd have wanted to tackle it in thick Clag :shock: !
WR1 - Maol Cian Dearg from car park at Fersit.jpg
This impressive nose is known as Meall Cian Dearg, which translates (more or less) as "the Bald Red-Headed Hill" - basically a variant of the same name shared by two Munro summits, Maol Chinn-Dearg in the South Shiel Ridge, and Maol Chean-Dearg near Achnashellach. There do seem to be a lot of bald redheads about in the Scottish Highlands :lol: !
I set off south along the hydro track from the car park, soon reaching the Loch Treig dam. The water level in the loch was looking alarmingly low after the recent prolonged dry spell :o ... Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg on the other side of the loch still had their heads in the cloud at this point.
WR2 - Loch Treig with low water and Chno Dearg with head in clouds.jpg

I walked on along the lochside track for a while, before eventually taking the second of two tracks which branch off to the right in quick succession, as per the website route description. This rough grassy track led up to a sheep fank, and continued on from there to eventually top out at a big hydro pillar (like an enormous trig point) that sits just north of the base of Meall Cian Dearg. There was a fine view from here of those two impressive Loch Laggan Grahams, Binnein Shios and Binnein Shuas:
WR3 - Hydro pillar on ascent and distant view of Binneins.jpg

The two impressively craggy Binneins are by far the most eye-catching hills in these parts despite their relatively lowly height, and I really must get round to climbing them sometime soon. Here's a zoomed shot of them:
WR4 - zoomed shot of Binneins.jpg

But now it was time to tackle that Bald Redhead, which was standing just to the south of the hydro pillar, eyeing me suspiciously and looking more than a tad forbidding :shock: ...
WR5 - Maol Cian Dearg looking forbidding.jpg

Actually, it mostly wasn't as bad as it looked from below, with a fairly clear path winding a cunning way up left, then cutting back right to almost completely avoid the crags. However, there was one brief moment that definitely got the adrenaline racing, where the path suddenly becomes exposed above a steep muddy gully down left, which by the looks of it is the result of a fairly recent landslip :shock: . I can't see any mention of this in previous WRs, and I suspect that it may just have happened over the harsh winter (and spring!) of 2017/18. Anyway, the main path is becoming significantly eroded at this spot, and there are already bits of scrabbly and precarious bypass path developing above it, so I suspect that it is a Developing Problem. Be warned :roll: !
Anyway, I made it past this wee bit without undue incident, and after that it was a straightforward enough climb up to the ridge proper, where the views opened up delightfully. The sun had come out properly now, and I enjoyed a brief, only slightly hazy view of both Munro summits, clearly visible ahead to the south:
WR6 - up on ridge with brief hazy view of both Munro summits ahead.jpg

There was a really lovely view westwards towards all four Grey Corries summits: I'd have to say that Grey's craggy profile as seen from here fair had my Inner Goddess doing somersaults :lol: !
WR7 - Lovely view of Grey Corries.jpg

Although admittedly no match for Grey, Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg were also looking fine to the east, with their summits also briefly Clag-free:
WR8 - Stob Coire Sgriadain briefly clag-free.jpg

The Easains ridge has an interesting step-like profile: the initial nose of Meall Cian Dearg is the steepest bit; then there is a long flat section, after which comes a second steepening, complete with impressive east-facing crags; then another flat bit before the final steepening to the first Munro. The clear path made easy work of the second steepening, however.
WR9 - second steepening with impressive crag to east.jpg

A look back down over Meall Cian Dearg, towards Loch Laggan and the distant Binneins:
WR10 - Loch Laggan and Binneins again in distance.jpg

Sadly, the sunshine didn't last that long, and as I continued to ascend the Clag started to close in again. To the east, Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg soon had their heads right back in the cloud:
WR11 - Sgriadain & Chno Dearg back in clag with Loch Treig in foreground.jpg

A nice hazy view southwards along Loch Treig:
WR12 - nice hazy view south along Loch Treig.jpg

Before long, I was up at the cairn of the first Munro, Stob a' Choire Meadhoin. Sadly, there were no summit views to be had at this point, but I settled down happily enough at the cairn to eat my lunch before tackling Meadhoin's slightly higher twin, Stob Coire Easain.
WR13 - Stob a' Choire Meadhoin summit cairn - no views at the moment.jpg

To my delight, wee breaks developed in the cloud while I was eating, offering tantalising glimpses of Grey Corries - never quite delivering the Big Reveal, but still enough to get the pulse racing :lol: !
WR14 - Hazy Lunch Summit View #1.jpg
WR15 - Hazy Lunch Summit View #2.jpg
WR16 - Hazy Lunch Summit View #3.jpg

With lunch completed, I headed off south again on a stony but reasonably clear ongoing path down to the bealach between the two Munros. I soon found myself back below the cloudline, although needless to say Stob Coire Easain still had its head up in the Clag...
WR17 - descent to bealach with SC Easain deep in Clag.jpg

However, as I neared the bealach, the Clag started to lift again. and I also saw two ladies heading back towards me (visible in the distance in this photo). They stopped to pass the time of day: they had started out a bit earlier than me (and probably made somewhat quicker progress), but they had unfortunately missed out on summit views too :? .
WR18 - almost at bealach with Clag clearing and two ladies in distance.jpg

By way of consolation, however, Stob Coire Easain now briefly lifted its head entirely out of the Clag, revealing a very impressive pyramidal profile rather reminiscent of the Toblerone-box mountain:
WR19 - Easain breifly Clag-free and lochs in distance.jpg

The second Munro is definitely the steeper of the two, and it has impressively precipitous west-facing crags, but the clear ongoing path made reasonably easy work of it.
WR20 - Easain west-facing crags looking quite impressive.jpg

Needless to say, of course, the Clag closed in again relentlessly, just about 30 seconds before I made it to the summit cairn :roll: ... ah well, at least I got a good look at it before it disappeared!
The inevitable Summit Selfie:
WR21 - Easain summit selfie.jpg

Given the thickening Clag, I didn't hang about for long, and headed back down to the bealach. In theory, I could have varied my return route by taking an alternative descent path to the west from the bealach and then heading back northwards to Fersit via Coire Laire (in reality more of a glen than a corrie, despite its name, and lying immediately to the west of the Easains ridge). However, I wasn't feeling particularly imaginative today, and I went for the slightly shorter option of just heading back the exact same way that I'd come up. I therefore plodded back up Stob a' Choire Mheadhoin (actually easy enough, with only 140 metres or so of fairly gentle re-ascent in this direction), and then stoated back northwards through the ever-thickening Clag in what I hoped was the general direction of Meall Cian Dearg.
It was easy enough walking, with the clear path making it almost impossible to stray too far off route. As I came back down the second steepening, I eventually fell back below the cloudline and was able to enjoy a rather nice rainbow over Loch Treig:
WR22 - emerging from Clag with a nice rainbow over Loch Treig.jpg

Route-finding became momentarily trickier at the very end of the ridge, where the path becomes briefly indistinct amidst a short run of peat hags just before reaching Meall Cian Dearg. There are, however, two useful marker cairns that mark the start of the descent path, at the very northern end of the ridge: if descending in Clag, it would be fairly vital to find these, I would think! Meall Cian Dearg looked impressively precipitous when viewed from above, with cloud boiling up from below:
WR23 - edge of Maol Cian Dearg precipice with cloud boiling up below.jpg

However, the descent path again made fairly straightforward work of it, with the exception of that one short exposed section at the recent landslip, which proved to be even more "amusing" on descent than it had been on ascent :roll: !
All the same, soon enough I found myself back down at the hydro pillar, more or less in one piece and enjoying yet another fine view out east towards Loch Laggan and the Binneins:
WR24 - back at hydro pillar on descent with those Binneins in distance again.jpg

A very enjoyable day's walking on the whole, and actually somewhat easier than I'd expected :D - however, that Bald Redhead could definitely bear watching ... do take care on that wee exposed bit at the recent landslip :roll: !
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Posts: 362
Munros:216   Corbetts:38
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Re: The Easains: two run-ins with the Bald Redhead of Fersit

Postby gld73 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:09 pm

I read your walk report before I did this route this week - I did pause when I came to the landslip bit of the path and think "ah, that'll be the bit he was talking about!". The bypass path I took above was okay, just a little bit more hands-on than the old path used to be by the looks of things.
Precarious-looking path ahead

Looking down on the dodgy bit of old path from the bypass above
Posts: 668
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Joined: Aug 11, 2015
Location: Inverness

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