Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Torridon scrambling weekend, Aug'13

Torridon is one special place ! Mighty mountains rise dramatically from sea-level, their crests twist with gashes, spires and pinnacles. We were here at the beginning of August to bag the main Munro summits on Beinn Alligin, Beinn Eighe and Liathach. Would weather play ball - read on ?

Our first day was on Beinn Alligin, a fine mountain with two Munro summits and a good way to prepare for the tougher scrambling on the other nearby peaks. Steven met our group - Scott, Sue, Duncan and Fiona at the car-park and wandered up the fine path in clear, dry conditions. Forcast wasn't actually too good, but Torridon seemed to be defying the MWIS. Up the coire below Tom na Gruagaich and onto the summit presented no difficulties and we took in glorious views as we sat by the trig point, munching our lunches.

Over to Sgurr Mor, the other Munro summit and the higher of the two on the mountain, Scott bounded down, the others sticking to the crest, practicing scrambling techniques. We gasped in awe at the hugh cleft of Eas Dubh, then continued up to the summit, meeting a couple of folk on the way. Below us, the complexity of the Horns of Alligin could be seen clearly - all in the group were up for a rock-scramble ! Down to the foot of the Horns - one last chance for anyone wanting the by-pass path - fortunately no takers. The group headed up and along the Horns with aplomb - we had perfect conditions and really enjoyed the experience of getting our hands on the sandstone, twisting around and occasional use of our bums !

Once down, we picked up the obvious path to take us over two bridges and back to the car-park. On the way we were met by a group being filmed, possibly making out they were running some route, maybe through the hills rather than over - anyone know anything about this ?

Our second day was supposed to be Beinn Eighe, but this time Torridon stuck to the MWIS script - low cloud, wet and windy. We opted for our back-up plan of Slioch - it's a fine mountain with an approach heading up westwards in a coire, therefore often sheltered when other hill-routes are being battered. From the car-park near Kinlochewe, we walked in full waterproofs along the path, densely overgrown with ferns at this time of year. The rain made for some lovely rainbows and we found a dragonfly unable to move its wings due to the weight of the rain-drops (we moved it onto ferns, hopefully where it could dry off).

Up the back of Slioch into mist, then onto the crest near the high lochans, we were pushing onwards into a fairly strong wind. We found the strange stone-circle, then the trig point (which most of the group thought was the summit) and finally the summit, all in deep mist. Drenched, we returned the way we came, meeting several groups heading up, a few in shorts. Turns out that a chap in one of the groups we met was on his last Munro - shame about the weather !

Checking the forecast for our last day, we decided to aim up Beinn Eighe. Yupp, more mist, rain and wind was predicted. We headed from the car-park below the eastern end of Liathach on the path toward Coire Mhic Fhearchair - conditions were better than expected, even the midges had stayed away. Up into the coire, closely passing some deer that were completely oblivious to our presence, and time for some food while we took in the view around us with the Triple Buttress dominating high above - a spectacular place !

Our intention was to head up the loose ground to the col south of Ruadh stac Mor, however as we hiked, we found a grassy slope and decided to make for a more direct ascent. Yes, this was steep, but far better than the 'two-steps up, one-step down' involved on the loose scree heading to the col. Views opened up and even more spectacular than when in the coire. In no-time we were on the summit and getting a fine view. As we sat to eat our lunches, the mist rolled in. Occasional breaks in the mist teased us and we got glimpses of Slioch and Loch Maree.

Into the wind, we went over the col and onto the mountain's narrow crest. Some easy scrambling took us up to the trig point on Spidean Coire nan Clach - if you have the OS sheet for this mountain, this looks like the summit, just on the edge of the map's border - of course, it's not, the summit is further on. And a fine wee scramble too to get there. We were in mist, so sadly no views from the top, but the coud did break on our descent, to give us a fine walk out to the roadside.

More photos are on our Flickr sharing site.

We're back in Torridon in mid September as part of a weekend bagging the Coulin Forest peaks and Liathach, more details here.