A Fine Route to Sail Mhor on Beinn Eighe.

Date walked: 25/06/2018

Distance: 18.6km

Ascent: 1170m

We had beautiful weather for our traverse of Sail Mhor and Coinnneach Mhor on Beinn Eighe,which proved to be a fine mountain route with impressive rock scenery, beautiful views and challenging scrambling.
The Route Shown in Blue

It was 08:50 when we set out from the main Beinn Eighe carpark, the sun was shinning and not a midge in sight :D . The day was full of promise as we followed the path along through Coire Dubh Mor and round, up into Coire Mhic Fhearchair, trying not to waste time stopping to admire the crags and distant peaks, Even the boggy lochans were looking picturesque filled with massess of white cotton grass and yellow buttercups reflected in clear blue water.
From Coire Mhic Fhearchair we planned to follow Lawson,Ling and Glovers route to Sail Mhor, a grade 2 scramble described in the Highland Scrambles North Guidebook. The route starts near the mouth of the coire, climbing the along side a large gully and across a narrow arete and then a final ascent to Sail Mhor summit.
As we arrived in the Coire our first view of the route left us feeling excited but also a bit anxious, the arete looked steep and narrow from below and we wondered if we had bitten of more than we could chew.
First view of Lawson, Ling and Glovers Route to Sail Mhor

It was 11:30 and this would be our last opportunity to fill our water bottles for many hours. We decided to brew up by the water fall, have an early lunch and ensure we were well hydrated and fueled up for the challenges ahead. All the while nervously eyeing up that arete. Definitely no prevarication involved. :lol:
It was a very warm day and as we were eating lunch there was a group of folk sounding like they were having a great time wild swimming Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair. Very tempting :D
With our water bottles full and hoping it would be enough to see us through we walked across to the base of the gully and started to make our way up steep scree. The scree was mainly large rocks and boulders and it was incredibly loose, probably some of the most unstable ground I have encountered. Several times it started to give way beneath me and I seriously thought I may end up pulverised.
Nearing the end of the Loose Boulders

Eventually we were able to transfer from the loose boulders onto vertical grass. Despite being very exposed the grass was great, it didn’t move and with plenty of little ledges it was like climbing a steep winding staircase. There were some rocky slabs in the grass but they tended to be wet and greasy so we avoided them where possible.
The side of the gully

The grass gave way to rock, and some questing around was required before we found easy scrambling on a rib of rock that we were able to follow to the top of a small tower above the gully.
Resting on top of the tower.

From here a short walk walk led to the feared arete.
Arete Ahead.

We were not sure, up to this point, if we had been following the route exactly as described, but now there could be no doubt, there were even crampon scratches to prove it. The arete was much broader than it appeared from below, but the climbing looked tenuous and exposed.
We always carry a short section of climbing rope and a bit of gear with us with when scrambling but we had not been expecting to need it today on a grade 2 scramble, but unable to find an easier or less exposed start we decided to rope up.
Narrowing of the arete

After this first pitch the arete consisted of a series of pitches of exposed scrambling/moderate climbing with walking and easy scrambling in between.
The situation was tremedous, and with the security of the rope for the harder sections we enjoyed climbing on the grippy sandstone.

Another steep section

Superb rocky platform, but I look like I am out for trouble stomping across it :lol:

The exposure here made me glad we had the rope

There were quite a few very loose boukders and holds on route. Luckily the stacked boulders at the top of this pitch were secure. :D

At the top of the arete the rock changed quite abruptly from sandstone to quartzite for the final straightforward, scramble to the summit.
Final scramble to the summit

But all the effort became worthwhile as the summit of Sail Mhor appeared above us and the views across the Torridon mountains all around.
Sail Mhor summit
Sail Mhor

Sail Mhor is an impressive summit so we stopped long enough to have a quick snack and to absorb some of the atmosphere. It was a bit disappointing not to be able to spend more time admiring the views but use of rope meant the ascent had taken longer than anticipated and it was 17:00 with still some difficult terrain ahead of us.
As we moved on it was impossible not to admire the grandeur of The Triple Buttresses.
The Triple Buttresses from Sail Mhor
and the route across the top of them linking Sail Mhor to Coinneach Mhor.
Ceum Grannda leading to Coinneach Mhor

The path led up the boulder strewn slopes and threaded improbably through the crags until it reached a crag that could not be avoided. The scrambling here was much easier than the previous route and if we had been fresher I doubt it would have given us much difficulty. We were however quite weary, and as the rope was still out we decided to play safe and use it
to protect some of the exposed moves.

Delightful slabs

By 19:45 all the scrambling gear was packed away and we were approaching Coinneach Mhor.
Approaching Coinneach Mhor
19:50 Coinneach Mhor

Having achieved our days objectives with the direct scramble upto Sail Mhor it was now time to take the descent path back to Coire Mhic Fhearchair.
Feeling more relaxed I was able to appreciate the clumps of Thrift and Mountain Everlasting, and the Starry Saxifrage growing in cracks on the rocky path. We scrabbled our way down the infamous steep scree that leads from the bealach down to Coire Mhic Fhearchair and wondered if the long and meandering path from the upper coire would ever reach the loch as we watched the sun setting over Beinn Dearg.

It did and we finally reaching the mouth of the Coire where stopped for one last look back at the Famous Buttresses
and the unforgettable Lawson,Ling and Glovers route
Sail Mhor in the evening light

After a much needed, long drink, at the waterfall we headed back through Coire Dubh Mor towards the car park, grateful for the excellent path.
You know your late when you see the moon rising over Liathach in June

We finally collapsed into our campervan at 12:30 and the next day, in retrospect, agreed, this was truly an enjoyable outing and ranks highly amongst our best mountain days. :D

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