Monday, August 13, 2012

A Bugger of a Bagger!

A solid forecast for a sunny weekend saw Ann & John brave the 4 hour drive to Kintail despite the Grade 5 midge forecast. The objective was a bagging trip of the grand day out that is the horseshoe of peaks centred on Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. We camped at Morvich on a very pleasant evening, quite different from the semi-blizzard conditions last time we were there on the Hogmanay meet. And the midges were no worse than a 2.
Next morning an early breakfast got us to the car park at Killilan by 8am, cycled-up for the 11 km approach to Carnach. The first part of the walk was a bit wobbly after getting off the bikes but we soon got stuck in to the steep and trackless ascent of Mullach Sithidh. 
View down Glen Elchaig from above Iron Lodge

The Mighty Stob Fraoch Choire (R)
This was heavy going in the warm temperatures and was made worse but having to veer into the boggy corrie to fill up with water. Once higher on the ridge, in the breeze and with the going improved, we picked up the pace and were soon on the first bag of the day, the Munro of Mullach na Dheiragain. After a well-earned first lunch we wandered along the undulating ridge to begin the 300 m ascent of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and met our first other people of the day. That started a trend, with about 15 in the next ½ hour. The ascent was a bit of a grind but worth it to get back to one of my favourite summits. A short but interesting traverse got us to the lower western top for a better view and second lunch.
Mullach na Dheiragain from Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan (try saying that after a pint!)

Summit of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan

Then we descended the North Ridge, which is a great outing over two decent Tops in a fine setting. This got us to the second bag of the day, the Murdo of Stob Fraoch Choire. For those of you who don’t know about Murdos, see the blurb below. They are named after the character Murdo Munro – he’s a bugger of a bagger, from the sadly-missed The Angry Corrie. This was my final Murdo and a source of some frustration, having passed within a couple of hundred metres of it a few years ago whilst Top-bagging and not been bothered to climb it. It is one of the mythical Seven Summits, peaks of sufficient prominence to be Murdos but neither a Munro Summit nor Top.

A bugger of a bagger....
Mountain anorak status assured (I don’t know of any other Murdoists, although there must be some around) we began the hot and sweaty descent through the increasingly rough bog to Carnach and an easy bike ride/roll back to the car.
Our 11 hour day had taken it out of us so the next day we just headed up to the Plockton area for a relaxing swim in the sea. Nothing too exciting but all very pleasant….

Snorkelling with Skye in the background

In recent years the word Munro has become synonymous with Scottish mountains over 3000 feet, yet anyone who has climbed all 277 Munros will be aware that numerous 3000-foot summits are not counted as Munros. The list of 517 Munro Tops might therefore be regarded as a natural progression, but few of the 1300+ Munroists have gone on to climb all of these. Perhaps most of them have simply had enough, but those with an appetite for more will discover the Munro Tops to be an unsatisfying assortment of major mountain summits and minor bumps. Many Tops are awkwardly distributed for a natural walking route yet are not distinctive enough to warrant a special trip. The list of Murdos provides a much more rational and appealing extension to the Munros.
A Murdo is a Scottish peak over 914.4 metres high (3000 feet) with a drop of at least 30 metres (98 feet) all round. The 444 Murdos comprise all 277 Munros, 160 of the most significant Munro Tops and seven additional summits. The list of Murdos shows the drop from each summit and so makes it easy for hillwalkers to collect the most rewarding 3000-foot summits without having to bother with the less significant tops.”

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Warm in the West

A fantastic forecast for the north west tempted Juliette and I up north with a view to traverse An Teallach (an  bag Juliette a couple of munros.....).  We stayed in the trusty van in the Corrie Hallie carpark - and given the number of empty cars we reconned Shenevall must of been heaving!

An early start to miss the heat (how often do you need to do that in Scotland!) but not unfortunately the midgies and we were off.

The walk up to Sail Liath was lovely, with cracking views all round.  A couple of teasing clouds appeared on the pinnacles as we reached the top of Sail Liath, but luckily the burned of equally quickly.  Not to worry, even if it clagged in totally some local climbers were about to guide us!

The initial scramble up a short slab was excellent and got us nicely warmed up for the harder slab above and easy chimney crack leading to the top of the buttress.



Lovely scrambling over rough sandstone with stunning exposure and views took us over the remaining pinnacles (with a brief pause for Juliette to have a famous seat) and the interesting part of the day was over and we were on Sgurr Fiona.

A brief sandwich stop and we were off for the second munro, Bidean a' Ghlas Thuill.  From there we wandered along the ridgeline to Glas Mheall Liath over some gentle scrambling.  Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come.  The descent down the screes to the corrie floor was horrendous.

Down in the glen, the heat was pretty oppressive (mid afternoon) and we were both feeling it when this appeared......

There was only one thing to do!  Splash!!

Unfortunately having dried off after our swim, we came across this 5 mins later!  Ah well, noted for next time!

Back at the van we decided to head to Laide to spend the night on the campsite, and talk about rooms with a view!!

Up early on Sunday, we decided to a quick wheech up Ben Wyvis would be a nice diversion on the way home.  The weather wasn't as nice, windy with a bit of cloud hugging the summit, but a pleasant day out and fine to stretch the legs after the previous days efforts!

A brief stop on the way home for a "healthy" pub lunch round the weekend off nicely.  Here's hoping that wasn't the last of summer!!!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Meagaidh Happy Returns!

Last weekend was a club meet to the excellent JMCS hut The Cabin at Balgowan, near Laggan. For once the forecast was reasonable so Saturday saw lots of tramping activity.
Stu, Juliette and Donald set out from the hut with the ambitious aim of traversing all four Monadliath Munros. Powered by Tangfastics and aided by the promised thunderstorms not appearing, they got back to the hut tired but successful, and more importantly in time for dinner.
Malcolm and Susan also headed into the Monadliath but restricted themselves to a more modest circuit at the western end.
John and Ann traversed the Creag Meagaidh group in a welcome return to the hills after a two-month absence. The gentle ascent via The Window was just what lazy legs needed, and we were greeted by an eagle as we topped out onto the plateau. The rest of the day was easy wandering in the fine weather, unusual for being very clear for such a warm day (over 20C in the glens). The only downside was that this route now gives excellent views of the almighty mess being created in the name of the Beauly-Denny power line.
Walking in to Creag Meagaidh

Coire Ardair

No room for 75 candles
Meanwhile, Denis was off exploring some interesting looking hills on the south-western end of the Monadliath. These Corbett and Graham Tops gave an interesting day out, also from the hut.
All parties reconvened at the hut for tea and cake in celebration of Denis’ imminent 75th birthday, followed by a fine meal that was well up to the usual high AMC standard.
Despite the forecast for Sunday being only slightly worse than Saturday’s, the weather was uninspiring with very low grey cloud and light drizzle. After the big days out in hot sunshine most people took this as an excuse for an easy day.
The next official club meet is the Sailing Meet on the Sept holiday weekend. Often there is an ad-hoc camping alternative for all you landlubbers so get your thinking caps on for where you would like to go….