End of the Blog

This is just to say that while the pages here will continue to exist, I will no longer be publishing anything.  Feel free to view the past posts but for now this is goodbye to WordPress.

Posted in Winter Climbing and conditions | Leave a comment

Riding the Achnashellach loop

I joined up with my Brother, Willie. Willie on his bike and me on foot, with the dog as well. We started from Achnashellach station and headed up the Coulin pass, down to the bridge then up the path to Coire Lair. From there downhill all the way back to finish. Here are some pics.

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A rare inversion – Sgurr a Bhasteir

After a week of cloudless days, there was a layer of low cloud over the sea. I could tell the sun was trying to come through and I guessed at an inversion. So headed off to Sligachan and went with the dog up Fionn Coire to Sgurr a Bhasteir. Still a fair covering of snow, and fairly firm also, glad not to be spotted by any mountain guides and paraded as an example of an under-equipped day tripper!

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Ruadh Stac – A seldom visited peak in the Cuillin

A new blog post at last!

Skye has had stunning weather in the last 2 – 3 weeks, and there have been many climbers visiting the Cuillin also, some notable successes including several fast ridge traverses, 2nd ascents of both White Wedding (IV) and Icicle Factory (VI), several new routes also reported. http://skyeguides.co.uk/mega-conditions-continue-3rd-march-update/

So to take advantage of the fine weather myself and Suilven took a run along Glen Sligachan and then ascended Ruadh Stac, which is one of the few parts of the Cuillin I have never set foot before. It feels very remote, and there is litttle sign of the passing of feet here, and although it stands at only 493M it feels very lofty as the ground falls away on 3 sides very steeply for 400M to the floor of the Glen.

Just below the snow line I could see a possible return route across the hillside to the East of Marsco, so making more of a loop. This was a severe test of contouring ability, with several slabby sections to negotiate, and many steep sided riverbeds to cross. Finally coming to the flat Mam a Phobuill, and an easier descent back to the main path through the Glen.

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Sgurr na Feartaig

In Winter I have visited the north facing corrie a number of times, mostly in murky conditions. A number of very fine ice climbs are here. However I have never been up to the summit nor really seen the views to the wilderness to the South. The last trip to the area had been with Garry in June (here – https://colinthrelfall.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/sgurr-coinnich-and-sgurr-a-chaorachain/), and the cloud had been down, but it had given me the idea.
After the path leaves the fine estate track it follows a really nice stalkers route, fairly dry, all the way to the foretop before descending slightly and bypassing the large summit cairn. After a quick break it was onwards along the undulating summit ridge with excellent running terrain, smooth grass and mossy. The path then descends in long zigs and zags and meets the other path coming up from Achnashellach. This descent, as I had remembered from Winter, is not a good path. It has fallen into disrepair and is boggy and deeply rutted, not ideal for a quick run down. But once back in the valley it is an easy jog back to Craig.

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Bealach na Sgairne and Gleann Lichd

With my brother, Willie. I was keen to go out on an adventure with Willie, him on his MTB and me on foot running. I had heard it was possible to bike this route but not really knowing how Willie would get on because we hadnt done this kind of trip before.
We walked up the big climb, Willie carrying his bike mostly, so that was fine, and I promised him the rest was ‘easy’ and downhill. And so it was the next few KM passed quickly once the boggy area had been passed. Then a punchure, and a 20 minute delay. Also the path was relentless for Willie with large drain ‘gaps’ too big to hop over, and the fear of another punchure.
We reached the bridge near Alltbeithe and got onto a better track, all the way to Camban where we had a look inside. Both agreed it was a good bothy. Then relentless ups and downs and rough pathage again slowing down the MTB.
A pause for photos before the final drop into Glen Lichd, we walked down about 100M or so then Willie mounted his bike and got a good descent in, then it was an easy 7km back along the flats to the start.

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Land of the Lost and Found

After a long wet Summer of false starts and dreich days, I finally got the chance to re-visit Skull Buttress on Quinag, a hugely exposed overhanging prow of rock. Home to Guy Robertson on many occasions through the year as he scoped and cleaned the lines. I had missed out on the July trip when Jurassic Spark, (E7) was climbed. However I had my doubts about today because of the massive winds swirling round the mountain. It was very chilly, however Guy and Adam battled discomfort and numb fingers to both lead and succeed in their new route – Land of the Lost and Found E7 6a.6b/c.

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The Great Mountain Crags of Scotland, launch night video.

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Best day of the Summer

On paper, Fuar Tholl, Sgorr Rhuadh and Beinn Liath Mhor, looked like a 4 hour circuit, jogging the flats and descents. In retrospect perhaps in reverse might have been closer to the mark. I had been here both in Summer and Winter on many occasions but never as a full traverse of the three. Once before over Beinn Liath Mhor, in snow, masking the cruel quartzite.
The route of ascent up Fuar Tholl, the way I chose, takes rough hinterland, chest deep heather masking sunken boulder-pits. Although after 400M or so height I managed to get onto the famous slabs, which were amazing and take you right up to about 700M. A short ridge with a narrowing leads easily to the Summit. All around surrounded by the cloud inversion. Skye like a sawtooth in the distance, to the East-clear.
So 40 mins behind schedule already I tried to make up time on the descent to the lochans, running into a band of rough quartzite near the bottom, a taste of what was to come. A stop at the loch for water and fuel and I was lifted by the easy and quick climb to Sgorr Rhuadh. Ah hour and a quarter on my timing to go, mmmm 15 mins to the col, then 30 mins to traverse Beinn Liath Mhor, 30 descent, it could be done…..
1 hour and 15 mins later, only just on top of Beinn Liath Mhor. So much rougher and so much steeper than I had remembered. Impossible to run at speed now that I was so warm/worn. Final pull to the last top on the ridge was heavy. What a view though, Torridon to the North, over the lochans. ‘I’m going to be a bit late’ call made, I gingerly made my descent firstly over a field of quartzite, then more quickly once sandstone had been reached.
Still all in all, 5 hours 50 mins. So rough.


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View from the North

Some telephoto images from Saturday’s trip to Quinag.

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