Spring on Sgiath Chuil

Munros: Sgiath Chuil

Date walked: 25/03/2018

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 14km

Ascent: 850m

I did this hill together with its partner years ago by the standard route from Auchessan: the only memorable thing was that we inadvertently locked the car key in the boot at the start :roll: Fortunately in those days a wire coathanger was all that was necessary to get back in and the man at the first house on the L kindly lent us one - so problem over :lol:
However I've always thought it looked attractive from the east - particularly under snow,
Sgiath Chuill from the woods bove Glen Ogle
Also I wanted to try it from Auchlyne where a pleasant hill track takes you "boglessly" up to the 450m mark :)
I'm a bit wary at my age of going out alone on the "big" hills in full winter conditions, but Sunday dawned warm and sunny, the clocks had just gone back and it felt quite Springlike :)
I parked in the village, and wandered up the delightful track which zig-zags easily up the hillside.

Early views up the track
Above a small lochan/reservoir there was a dead sheep in the ditch above the track :( I guess it had gone in to shelter from the recent blizzard and been buried by the snow. further up there were two more. :( Eventually the track splits and you head Left whereafter it's broadly level
My target comes into sight
From the split in the track
It crosses the Auchlyne West Burn
And then travels alongside it :D :D
Ben More and Stobinian start to emerge from the cloud
There was quite a strong cold breeze, but I found a nice sheltered spot for a rest with a comfortable seat :)
I had intended to leave the track around here and head directly towards the top, but That would have entailed crossing the burn which didn't look at all easy. I noticed from the map that the track crossed it again a few hundred metres beyond - but it didn't so much cross as go through it :(
The ford
It looked at least 8" deep in the centre and there was nothing to hold on to until you passed that point. I checked that the concrete was not at all slippery and after looking around but finding no easier crossing point I plunged through and set off up the boggy hillside shortly after. Wet bog or wet snow? not a great choice and progress was glacial, but I headed up towards a larger snowfield in a shallow gully - the going was a bit better
Snow field
Looking back down
Ben More and Stobinian again - clearer now
I made steady progress - but it was the usual Scottish stuff - three steps on top and then a plunge in :( - infuriating and exhausting in equal measure
Nice views over to Stuc a Chroin - Creag Mac Ranaich to its R I think: Ben Vorlich is to its L but hidden
I wasn't sure what the gully in the centre would be like so I headed up to the R at this point. I had crampons in my sack, but my view - if just hill-walking - is that you only put them on if you feel seriously unsafe without. they slow you down because you have to lift your feet higher and if you don't concentrate you are always likely to catch one in the other and do an instant face plant :lol: :lol: :lol: - only it might not be funny!
Almost alpine - The summit ? sadly no - just the side of Sgiath Chrom
I contoured round on to the flat area below the real summit
That must be the summit
First view of the hills further W - Ben Challum at the back
At this point I was feeling pretty tired when a sudden squall blew up. The sleet stung my face , my hands and one wet foot (from the ford) were getting cold: was I going to have to turn back? I started to get those "wtf am I doing here feelings" that arise when things aren't going well :lol: :lol:
But I pushed on a bit , the squall moved away and I saw the big track made by walkers descending the normal route :) Nice to know there were other people on the planet :)
Tracks descending - nice
Thus encouraged I soon made the 70m or so climb to the top and found a sheltered spot to rest

Views from the summit

Near neighbours Meall Glas and Ben Cheathaich: Ben Challum on the L and Creag Mhor/ Beinn Sheasgarnaich perhaps in sunlight behind
A wider view
Looking N - Meall Ghaordaidh in the distance I think
According to the map the Tarmachan ridge is directly in front of Ben Lawers from here
Zoomed view - That must be Lawers at the back in mist
Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin
Zoomed again
The hills S of Loch Tay
Looking East - the snow in this corrie gets a lot less sun than the S facing slopes I had ascended

Looking at the slopes in this picture I decided to head down that way, staying on the North side of the East ridge of Sgiath Chrom. The result was that I tromped down a magic kilometre or more of perfect spring snow :D :D :D - I haven't done that in Scotland for years. I came round the Eastern edge of the ridge - still in shade and found some fresh tracks - they could only be mine and I followed them back to the track
They had to be mine
However when I reached the ford it was several inches higher than in the morning.
From the ford - Ben More and Stobinian now totally clear
I didn't mind getting wet feet at this stage of the day, but there was nothing to hold on to at the deepest part, and I had visions of being swept down these steps, banging my head and drowning :(
So I decided to chicken out and stay on the N side of the burn as I knew it eventually went under the track. Fortunately only about 300m down I came upon this and was able to cross and regain the track with ease :)
Some way befiore the track junction there is an area on the R marked tip (disused). heading off here I found a small track that cut diagonally down across the hillside and after going through a gate I rejoined the track just above the reservoir. Clearly others had taken the same short cut. I was also able to cut through a number of the zig-zags below this.
A final view
According to my camera I set off at 12.50, reached the ford at 14.30, the top at 17.00, the ford again at 18.20 and the bottom at 19.20

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Activity: Mountaineer
Mountain: Weisshorn
Place: Torridon
Member: FRCC, AC, John Muir Trust
Camera: Lumix G6
Ideal day out: remote mountain where i'm unlikely to meet many people

Munros: 282
Corbetts: 82
Grahams: 27
Donalds: 6
Wainwrights: 159
Hewitts: 146
Sub 2000: 3

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Last visited: Apr 20, 2018
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