WH Meet: Sun and snow on Buidhe Bheinn & Sgurr a' Mhaoraich

Munros: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich
Corbetts: Buidhe Bheinn

Date walked: 11/11/2017

Time taken: 8.5 hours

Distance: 18km

Ascent: 1810m

Munros: Sgurr a' Mhaoraich
Corbetts: Buidhe Bheinn.
Date: 11/11/2017.
Distance: 18 km.
Ascent: 1810m.
Time: 8 hours, 30 minutes.
Weather: Cold, breezy, snowy, sunny, calm

Made a last-minute decision to go on this meet - fortunately I wasn't working away from home on Friday, so I could make the Friday night as well. In fact I thought I had come up with a great plan - go to work in the morning, have a pub lunch with a couple of colleagues then set off for the South Laggan hostel on the bike. The weather had other ideas and even the 30 second wander from work to the pub was rather damp! Fortunately a large amount of the cycle was in the dry (although into a howling gale), with the rain not coming on until Errogie. The climb up the Suidhe was a bit drawn out, but the run downhill past Loch Tarff and Glendoe in the last light was welcome.

Loch Duntelchaig from the bike

Loch Duntelchaig

After stocking up on extra booze in Fort Augustus, the weather was suddenly calm on the cycle down the canal, with the moon and Loch Lochy hills reflected perfectly. Then it was into the hostel for a good evening, somehow ending up in bed before midnight.

There was a good reason for being in bed at a sensible time - I had been discussing routes with Allan (Alteknacker), and we settled on a traverse from Kinlochourn to Loch Quoich, which needed an early start. Despite being up before 6am, I managed to underestimate the time it would take to get to Kinlochourn, and after dropping a bike off at the viaduct over the finger of Loch Quoich leading to Alltbeithe, we were parked up at 8am, an hour later than planned.

A typical Alteknacker route involves going up lots of hills, then going up a few more. The original plan (and reason that we didn't opt for a simple horseshoe of Buidhe Bheinn and Sgurr a' Mhaoraich) was that we were also going to include Gleouraich and Spidean Mialaich. I wasn't sure if I'd manage all of that in the time available, so was happy to drop off Sgurr a' Mhaoraich to the bike and go back for Allan's car.

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We set off from the carpark and set off for the house at Kinloch Hourn, from where we were going to zigzag up stalkers paths onto Buidhe Bheinn. In the event, we opted to just go straight upwards.

Sgurr nan Eugallt from Buidhe Bheinn

Loch Hourn and Druim Fada

While it had rained for most of the drive in, the sun was now out and shafts of light onto various hillsides. We could see down Loch Hourn to Ladhar Bheinn too - I was really happy I made the effort to come here rather than have another wander up Ben Tee (which I had been on last month). One of my favourite areas (apart from all the other ones!)

Sgor Mor

Ladhar Bheinn and Loch Hourn

Loch Hourn

Sgurr nan Eugallt

At the small lochan at around 650m,we hit the snow, which wasn't too deep and completely unconsolidated. Having cycled down to the meet, I had left out my axe and crampons to save weight. Didn't think there was much chance of needing them, and fortunately I was right (would've been a retreat to the glen otherwise).

Approaching Buidhe Bheinn

Druim Fada

The highest point on Buidhe Bheinn isn't actually at the end of the ridge, but the spot with the best view is. Some place - looking right down Loch Hourn, flanked by Ladhar Bheinn and Beinn Sgritheall on each side 8) .

Summit of Buidhe Bheinn

Sgurr Thionail

Beinn Sgritheall

Summit of Buidhe Bheinn

Back to the SW summit

Looking back to Buidhe Bheinn

We shuffled along the broad arête towards the main summit, the snow making the easy scrambly sections across slabs and boulders a little more slippy. After the highest point, the wind suddenly increased and the cloud moved in for a bit - a pattern for the day.

Snow flurry moving in

Sgurr na Sgine

After following the ridge a little further towards Sgurr a' Bhac Chaolais, we made a descending traverse to Loch Bealach Coire Sgoireadail, where it was time for lunch. The sun was out and back in again as we made our way towards the slopes of Sgurr Thionail

Sgurr an Lochain

Head of Wester Glen Quoich

We tried to use a fragment of stalkers path to take us up onto Sgurr Thionail, but it was more of a notion than an actual path close up, even though it was easy to spot from a distance. The weather was again quite wild as we approached the final slopes of Sgurr Thionail, but it was great - felt like being on proper big mountains for a change.

Buidhe Bheinn from Sgurr Thionail

Across the S Glen Shiel Ridge to Affric

NW to Applecross hills

A fast, easy descent from Sgurr Thionail led us towards the more intricate terrain of Am Bhathaich. Time had passed rather too fast, so we decided to contour around the end of it rather than visit the summit. Shame, as it looked like a good ridge.

Allan on Sgurr Thionail

Am Bhathaich

Back to Sgurr Thionail

Then we made the steep ascent up to Sgurr a' Mhaoraich, where the weather closed in again. Shame as this is another great viewpoint, but we had had a great day so far, so weren't complaining at all. In fact just before we left the summit, it cleared briefly, although not to give the full view down Loch Hourn. The eastern ridge that we were about to descend looked fine though.

Loch Hourn and Druim Fada

Sgurr Thionail and Am Bhathaich

Loch Hourn from Sgurr a' Mhaoraich

E ridge of Sgurr a' Mhaoraich

I don't remember much about this ridge from my previous visit, but it looks like the skyline would give a fun traverse in good conditions. Given the slithery snow, we stayed mostly below the crest. Allan was starting to realise at this point that we had probably started too late to include the next group of hills. Even with the extra hour that we would have got by starting earlier would have made it a squeeze to do before dark. Mind you, it would've helped - sorry about that Allan!

Back to Sgurr a' Mhaoraich from the E ridge

As it was, we just dropped down to the bridge on Loch Quoich. Allan fetched his bike to cycle to the car, while I strolled down the road to Kinlochourn at an ambling pace, including a stop to look out west to the Garbh Chiochs and Sgurr na Ciche. It was a lovely wander in the twighlight, with only one other car passing me before Allan picked me up

Loch Quoich

Sunset behind Sgurr na Ciche

Allan goes off to get the car

A fantastic day out - one of the best in a good few weeks, or maybe even months. We then got soundly whipped in the evening quiz (glad there wasn't a maths round, because by my count we were doing really well :roll: ), and I forgot to go to bed at a sensible time, making Sunday morning the usual pain :sick: .

Fortunately the perfect thing for a hangover was a crisp, clear sunny day and a quick trundle down to the head of Loch Lochy on the bike before turning north to head for home. I spent most of the morning and early afternoon dawdling along, taking detours onto the Great Glen Way above Invergarry, and again further north (in search of a bothy, getting very muddy in the process), before hitting the canal towpath to Fort Augustus.

Loch Lochy hills from the locks

Loch Oich

Caledonian Canal near Fort Augustus

Unfortunately the wind had edged around to the north, and was in my face for most of the day. I briefly considered going back up the A82 but it was far too nice for that, so I took a deep breath and ground my way up the Glendoe/Loch Tarff road again (which is actually less painful from this direction than the other, as it is a lot shorter). At the first summit, I spotted a shiny yellow thing coming in the other direction - it had to be the Jaxtermobile! I was so slow getting to Fort Augustus that Jackie and Andy were on their way home after climbing Carn a' Chuillin by the time I passed them :? :lol: .

Across Loch Ness from the Glendoe road

Some great views from the top of the Suidhe were followed by a speedy descent to Whitebridge, after which my energy gradually seemed to fade.

At the top of the Suidhe

Suidhe viewpoint - downhill now

NE from Suidhe

Meall Fuar Mhonaidh and Loch Knockie

The road home near Whitebridge

By the time I was freewheeling down the last hill into Inverness, it was dark and I was close to falling asleep on my bike - didn't know that was possible :shock: . Then I nearly dozed off again while standing in the shower, and again onto my dinner. These meets really need some extra hours built in somewhere :lol: . A big thanks to Michelle and Jim for organising, quizmaster Alan, slave-driver Allan and everyone else for a good meet :D .

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Comments: 6

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Location: Inverness
Occupation: Civil Engineer
Interests: Walking, Scrambling, Cycling, Mountain Biking
Munro rounds: 1
Corbett rounds: 1
Graham rounds: 1

Munros: 282
Corbetts: 222
Grahams: 219
Donalds: 50
Wainwrights: 81
Hewitts: 204
Sub 2000: 190

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Trips: 51
Distance: 925.8 km
Ascent: 50140m
Munros: 25
Corbetts: 11
Grahams: 7
Sub2000s: 33
Hewitts: 13
Wainwrights 1


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Distance: 1132.8 km
Ascent: 59985m
Munros: 18
Corbetts: 20
Grahams: 20
Donalds: 4
Sub2000s: 33


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Corbetts: 18
Grahams: 35
Donalds: 5
Sub2000s: 26


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Corbetts: 23
Grahams: 43
Donalds: 33
Sub2000s: 23


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Ascent: 52310m
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Corbetts: 23
Grahams: 36
Sub2000s: 26


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Grahams: 16
Sub2000s: 19
Hewitts: 95
Wainwrights 16


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Ascent: 45165m
Munros: 5
Corbetts: 21
Grahams: 31
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Corbetts: 35
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Sub2000s: 5
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Munros: 15
Corbetts: 22
Grahams: 18
Donalds: 3
Sub2000s: 6


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Ascent: 30550m
Munros: 22
Corbetts: 19
Grahams: 7
Donalds: 3
Sub2000s: 4


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Ascent: 32785m
Munros: 39
Corbetts: 6
Grahams: 4
Hewitts: 1


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Ascent: 27635m
Munros: 29
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 1
Sub2000s: 2
Hewitts: 5
Wainwrights 8


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Distance: 839.4 km
Ascent: 47975m
Munros: 60
Corbetts: 6
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 2
Sub2000s: 1
Hewitts: 1


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Ascent: 51905m
Munros: 68
Corbetts: 5
Hewitts: 5


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Ascent: 42245m
Munros: 46
Corbetts: 3
Grahams: 3
Hewitts: 24


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Ascent: 59035m
Munros: 45
Corbetts: 1
Sub2000s: 1
Hewitts: 52
Wainwrights 23


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Distance: 512.5 km
Ascent: 42190m
Munros: 19
Corbetts: 2
Sub2000s: 1
Hewitts: 55
Wainwrights 27


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Ascent: 43786m
Munros: 23
Corbetts: 1
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Wainwrights 4


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Ascent: 33525m
Munros: 12
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Distance: 512.1 km
Ascent: 44205m
Munros: 19
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 1
Donalds: 2
Hewitts: 62
Wainwrights 6


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Distance: 476.5 km
Ascent: 40740m
Munros: 12
Corbetts: 2
Hewitts: 74
Wainwrights 17


Trips: 2

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