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Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg


Postby malky_c » Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:14 am

Route description: Sgùrr Dearg and the In Pinn

Date walked: 28/02/2004

Distance: 8 km

Ascent: 1000m

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EDIT: New slightly improved photo scans added

Here's a report from a few years ago. I've been meaning to add some winter Cuillin reports for a while now. An amazing day out on Sgurr Sgumain and Sgurr Alastair was probably the best experience, but this one has the best photos (although they are not as good as the original prints).

Travelled up to Glen Brittle on the Friday night in a rather cramped minibus with the university climbing club. Snow on Skye was right down to the road, and the final descent down to the glen was a bit hairy. After a reasonable night's sleep in the Glen Brittle Memorial Hut, we woke to a fair looking day. Cloud was down low on the ridge, but there was sun in the sky. There was fresh snow was right down to the beach.

Will, Dave Dmitri and I decided to head up towards the Inn Pinn, although we didn't expect to climb it in these conditions. We set off up the path which skirts the Eas Mor gorge, and worked our way towards Sgurr Dearg. As we began ascending the steep end of the ridge, the cloud began to clear, revealing tantalising glimpses of Rhum and the coast. At just over 3000 feet, there is a small summit, which marks the end of the walking and the beginning of the scrambling. A quick break here, and the cloud cleared from the surrounding hills completely. This was turning out to be some of the best winter weather ever.

Loch Brittle:
Image

Rhum:
Image

Sgurr Alastair:
Image

Me on way up Sgurr Dearg:
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Sgurr Dearg and Inn Pinn:
Image

Sgurr Mhic Choinnich and Sgurr Alastair:
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Yuppie Dave on summit of Sgurr Dearg:
Image

Conditions underfoot were not so good though. This year might have been an exception, but the temperatures on Skye rarely stay low enough for long enough for snow to consolidate properly. Today was no exception, with all of the features of the ridge covered in piles of fresh powder, useless for baring any weight. It covered up all of the ledges and handholds and made the going awkward. Normally the easiest route to the summit of Sgurr Dearg is to bypass the crest of the arete on the right, but it was impossible to make out the ground here. Instead, we donned crampons (of little use, but better than nothing) and went straight up the crest. This was good fun, with a couple of steeper narrow sections making for some hairy moments.

Sgurr Dearg was reached easily enough, and the Inn Pinn filled the view to the E. Coire Lagan and the surrounding horseshoe was spectacular, and Rhum and South Uist seemed close enough to touch. We had no inclination to even attempt the Inn Pinn, but decided that continuing to Sgurr Mhic Choinnich would be a good move due to the stunning weather (there was no breeze, and it wasn't even that cold).

Bla Bheinn:
Image

Inn Pinn:
Image

The fun began with the descent of the side of An Stac. This is a truly unpleasant route in the summer, made of ball bearing scree and loose rock, so we hoped a good snow covering would maybe improve it. How wrong we were! With no purchase in the powdery snow, and no idea if we were following the easiest route or about to drop off a mini crag, which was nerve wracking. Lower down, it is important to get off the main slope and traverse leftward to avoid a big drop. Most of this was accomplished on arses. Finally things got a bit easier traversing the top of the An Stac Screes and back round onto the main ridge. From here we headed along the fairly flat crest, descending and ascending around the points where a couple of gullies from the E side eat into the ridge line. At the steepening onto Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, we were beaten back by the snow. Will, who was the best climber of the group, had a look at a few options here, but couldn't find a satisfactory way through. Not much hope for the rest of us then! Funnily, this section is barely noticed in the summer, when it is little more than a walk.

Looking back to An Stac:
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Sgurr Thearlaich and Sgurr Alastair:
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Sgurr Alastair:
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Group shot:
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Will has a go at Sgurr Mhic Choinnich:
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Another lunch stop and a bit of messing around with Dmitri's tripod produced some nice group shots, and it was generally really nice to be in this location, in these conditions, without having to wrap up too much. With Sgurr Mhic Choinnich abandoned, we headed back to the An Stac Screes. This is where I had one of the experiences which has been responsible for my regression in climbing and scrambling abilities. Descending around the tops of the gullies which cut into the ridge, I have never felt so insecure. My feet couldn't find anything to rest on, and my axe was pretty much useless. Under my feet was a 300m drop straight to the floor of Coire Lagan, and somehow, I had to inch my way a few meters down this drop without ending up at the bottom of the corrie. I rather filled my pants as I eased my way down, possibly making a few 'aaaaaaaah' noises, then thankfully all was fine. The worst part is that these gullies are passed without a second glance in summer conditions. Ever since this, I have become gradually more and more cautious when scrambling, which is probably a good thing in some ways, but means I am never going to do some of the things I would have liked (Kings Chimney, Bastier Tooth, TD gap on Skye, NE Buttress on Ben Nevis to name a few).

Traversing under An Stac:
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Looking down An Stac Screes:
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That fun over, the descent down the An Stac Screes was a doddle, and we ran down the snow slopes. In the corrie, it was warm enough to strip down to a T-shirt, and with the lenghening shadows in the afternoon, the walk out of the corrie was simpy amazing. A good few beers were drunk in the hut that night to celebrate the day's events. I think all of the other groups had had an amazing day out too, but I can't remember where any of them went now!


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Out to Rum:
Image

Sgurr Mhic Choinnich and Sgurr Alastair:
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Sgurr Sgumain:
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Walking out of Coire Lagan:
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Looking back to Sgurr Dearg and Sgurr Alastair:
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Last edited by malky_c on Thu Nov 11, 2010 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby kinley » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:48 pm

8) Nice :D

Walking out of Coire Laggan is a cracker 8)
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby Scotjamie » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:50 pm

great report malky_c
I love the cuillin in the summer, and, very impressed with the report, though with the soft snow and scraped buttocks, am not sure you are selling effectively the winter cuillin experience to this mountain feartie :?
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby mountain coward » Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:23 am

I definitely put a remark on this yesterday but it's gone?! So 'fraid I'm putting it again...

How come, if the In Pinn is supposed to be a Munro summit (but to me is actually just a rock flake and not a mountain), people don't climb onto the block on the top?

Great photos by the way...
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby malky_c » Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:43 am

:lol: You're losing your marbles MC! I think you put the comment on Rockhopper's report, where I had posted a link to this. The original pictures must have been bad on this - it went down like a lead balloon when I posted it in March :lol:
As for summits, as far as I'm concerned, if my head is higher than any blocks, then no need to stand on them :wink: . I can't remember very much about the summit, but I'm pretty sure there was nothing higher than me (even if I didn't have my feet planted on the highest bit of rock). As I've said before, you make your own rules up here, so if you want to count the pinnacle as a mere flake which isn't the top, be my guest :lol:

Cheers for the other comments. I doubt I'd go up there in those conditions now (except maybe one of the easier summits like Bruach na Frithe or Sgurr nan Eag). Despite the amazing scenery, the Cuillin are pretty frustrating in the winter. I went 4 or 5 times in Feb/March through the years when I was right in the middle of my Munro bagging frenzy. Always got out onto the ridge, but only ever bagged one new summit on those visits (with a few 'almosts' as well). There's a good reason why the Glen Brittle Memorial Hut is easiest to book at this time of year.

Daft really, but I've only really explored other parts of Skye after compleating, when I should have been doing it on the days when the Cuillin were too difficult.
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby mountain coward » Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:59 am

Ah - no, I'm not losing my marbles, you and Rockhopper are conspiring to make me think I'm going mad!! :o :lol:

Good approach to summit relevance - whether it's higher than you... however, as I'll be laid down if I ever get up the In Pinn, that block will be higher than me - so you're saying I'll have to climb that as well? :lol:

When you were stood on Sgurr Dearg, was the In Pinn higher than your head?
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby magicdin » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:02 am

mountain coward wrote:
How come, if the In Pinn is supposed to be a Munro summit (but to me is actually just a rock flake and not a mountain), people don't climb onto the block on the top?



Forbye the recent discussion about where we start to climb the hill - surely it is a given that we have to get to the highest point to "bag" it - Eh ????
Now then - THE COBBLER Image

the in pinn is 40 feet higher than the cairn (deleted top)

TEST - edited at 13.06 ???
Last edited by magicdin on Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby mountain coward » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:07 am

Well I have to admit it isn't my approach to bag the very highest bit if it's anything like The Cobbler - I took one look through that window on that little greasy ledge and said sod it! But it does seem to be a popular view of 'reaching the summit' so I was wondering why noone seems to be climbing that block? :D

So, using the approach of 'if it's higher than me I have to go up it', I have to grow to over 40 feet then to avoid the In Pinn? :lol:
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby magicdin » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:11 am

mountain coward wrote:Well I have to admit it isn't my approach to bag the very highest bit if it's anything like The Cobbler - I took one look through that window on that little greasy ledge and said sod it! But it does seem to be a popular view of 'reaching the summit' so I was wondering why noone seems to be climbing that block? :D

So, using the approach of 'if it's higher than me I have to go up it', I have to grow to over 40 feet then to avoid the In Pinn? :lol:


So do you consider that you have "bagged" The Cobbler ?
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby malky_c » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:16 am

I'll admit to a bit of cheating here - I've logged the Cobbler, but not stood on the true summit. However, in my mind, I won't be happy to claim a full set of Corbetts until I've been back to do it properly. As I said in the other thread, it's all about whether you feel you have cheated yourself. If I don't do the Cobbler properly I'll have cheated myself - wouldn't be too bothered what others thought.

Could the In Pinn issue be solved by starting the ascent 40ft lower? :wink:
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby magicdin » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:20 am

malky_c wrote:I'll admit to a bit of cheating here - I've logged the Cobbler, but not stood on the true summit. However, in my mind, I won't be happy to claim a full set of Corbetts until I've been back to do it properly. As I said in the other thread, it's all about whether you feel you have cheated yourself. If I don't do the Cobbler properly I'll have cheated myself - wouldn't be too bothered what others thought.

Could the In Pinn issue be solved by starting the ascent 40ft lower? :wink:


Even ten feet lower and walk up and down 4 times :D
But if we don't get to the highest point of a hill where do we draw the line - 50 feet,100 feet short
cross the road from the car park ?
Sorry to hijack your fine report BTW
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby Paul Webster » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:20 am

So, using the approach of 'if it's higher than me I have to go up it', I have to grow to over 40 feet then to avoid the In Pinn? :lol:


An ingenius solution MC :lol: . Perhaps you could get some really big stilts?
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby mountain coward » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:39 am

magicdin wrote:
mountain coward wrote:Well I have to admit it isn't my approach to bag the very highest bit if it's anything like The Cobbler - I took one look through that window on that little greasy ledge and said sod it! But it does seem to be a popular view of 'reaching the summit' so I was wondering why noone seems to be climbing that block? :D

So, using the approach of 'if it's higher than me I have to go up it', I have to grow to over 40 feet then to avoid the In Pinn? :lol:


So do you consider that you have "bagged" The Cobbler ?


As I'm definitely not going up that clamber, yes - sorry to anyone who disagrees but I am unamimous in that! (from a certain 70s comedy for those who are too young to understand)

Where I draw the line for summits is if they have a daft bit of rock on the top which I don't like the look of :D
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby magicdin » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:44 am

mountain coward wrote:
magicdin wrote:
mountain coward wrote:Well I have to admit it isn't my approach to bag the very highest bit if it's anything like The Cobbler - I took one look through that window on that little greasy ledge and said sod it! But it does seem to be a popular view of 'reaching the summit' so I was wondering why noone seems to be climbing that block? :D

So, using the approach of 'if it's higher than me I have to go up it', I have to grow to over 40 feet then to avoid the In Pinn? :lol:


So do you consider that you have "bagged" The Cobbler ?


As I'm definitely not going up that clamber, yes - sorry to anyone who disagrees but I am unamimous in that! (from a certain 70s comedy for those who are too young to understand)

Where I draw the line for summits is if they have a daft bit of rock on the top which I don't like the look of :D


Ah yes - I'm old enough - Mrs Slocombe and her Pussy :lol:
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Re: Winter Cuillin - Sgurr Dearg

Postby mountain coward » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:16 am

My pussy's not going up that clamber either! :lol:
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