An ever-changing forecast for the June meet didn’t discourage 7 AMC members from travelling to the SMC Naismith Mountaineering Hut located in Elphin in the corners of North West Scotland. The hut is impressive, tidy and well-equipped, with superb views out to Cul and over Loch .
Late arrivals by most meant a short evening together on Friday discussing plans and adventures for the following day. Over a glass of whisky Ewan, Ed and Simon plotted an early start to tackle the iconic Old Man of , the 60m high sandstone sea stack near Head Lighthouse. With conditions looking favourable, but low tide at 5.30am, limited shut-eye was on the cards.
As alarm clocks rang at 3.30am the party sneaked out quietly from the hut and made their way towards , North of .
|The Old Man of Stoer|
Supposedly the Old Man can be reached by a walk or a jump at the lowest of low tides. On arriving and discovering a large swell, a dry route across could not be spotted, but happily someone had left a static rope across the water channel for a Tyrolean traverse.
The incredibly slimy first pitch was not the easiest introduction to the day’s climbing. Ewan at backed off from the committing move but soon returned, soaking wet after getting hit by a wave from trying the walk round, emboldened by the inevitability.
|Ed on the first pitch|
|Views from the top|
|Views from the top|
|Relaxed once at the top|
The early start had not been in vane since there was plenty of time left for a visit to the famous pie shop in .
Suitably later Derek, Hazel & set off to Lodge near to start their traverse of in sunshine.
|Suilven this way|
A pleasant walk down into Forest from the lodge using first a track then a well-maintained walkers path made for easy work to cover the distance to the turn off up on to .
This (newish) path continued up onto Bealach between the two tops of .
|Scuz approaching the bealach|
With a through-walk in mind the group tackled to the West first, an easy walk to the summit, then heading Eastwards, taking in the grade 2 sections up and over the spine and bobtail to the summit of .
|Scuz on a trickier section of the scrambling|
|Hazel negotiating one of the scrambling sections|
From here a steep descent to the East of Loch then back to the the path Eastwards all the way back to Elphin. It was exceptionally warm and dry weather throughout the day with just enough wind to keep the midge away.
Denis walked to Crag to explore the fascinating geology and plant variety on offer.
As usual an enjoyable AMC supper was had, thanks to volunteer chefs Simon, Ed and Hazel. We had a lovely visit from Robert who had travelled the short distance from Ullapool after dinner too.
Sunday’s forecast was for continued good weather so plans were made to tackle Cul from two different , , Hazel & Derek from via the mod/grade 3 scramble up Pinnacle Ridge on the North of and Simon and Ewan from near Loch . After tidying up the hut, everyone set off.
The first team followed the path from which was enjoyable then had a distance covering rough and wet ground to reach the start of the route.
|Derek, Scuz & Ed on the approach track|
|Views over to Suilven|
|In Coire Gorm|
The pinnacles were easily identifiable being prominent half way up the slopes of . The scramble was discontinuous but provided plenty of interest and some more challenging individual moves. There was plenty of loose rock and questionable so care was taken when moving together.
|Scuz donning climbing gear ready for the scramble|
|Scuz on one of the pinnacles with Derek keeping at a safe distance|
Meanwhile, Ewan and Simon started their route to Cul from Loch . Denis had promised the best view in Scotland and he would know.
Denis had also told about a dune landscape at the lochan, Lochan Dearg a , and there was indeed a lot of sand there. The view from Creag nan was indeed stunning, a beautiful vista over Loch and of Stac .
|The best view in Scotland|
On reaching the summit, with the other climbing party still some halfway up Pinnacle Ridge, they descended using the path to where a short while later they hitched back to the starting point and the car, another classic finish to the day.
As always, a fun weekend of mountaineering and socialising with the Aberdeen Mountaineering Club.