Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Forcan Ridge and Sgurr na Sgine, Oct'13

Manny led a small group up the delicate Forcan Ridge in mid-October. Here's his tale of the day. Photos were taken by Lorna McDougall's camera !

After a still and foggy drive over to Glen Shiel our small band of intrepid scramblers Lorna, Jo and Derek gathered in a growing breeze. The plan was straight forward looking to do the Saddle via the Forcan Ridge and Sgurr na Sgine before descending steep Faochag, but there options of tagging on a Graham, Biod an Fhithich, or the Corbett-top, Sgurr a’ Bhac Chaolais. With the possibility of some really great photos today, I cautiously changed the battery in my camera, then double–checked I had plenty memory on the SD card, before very carefully forgetting to put it back in my pack – what a twit!

Lorna got us well warmed up at a steady pace on the good stalkers path to the first bealach, but we chose not to take the early option of Biod an Fhithich, perhaps saving the energy for the exciting imminent scramble, or maybe for Sgurr a’ Bhac Chaolais later? The clouds were staying high and the views tremendous when we stopped at the foot of the Forcan Ridge for a bite to eat. The ridge of course needs steady hands and feet to negotiate the many slabby, rocky steps and our team methodically picked our way up, only stopping occasionally for a photo or a quick breather and a look at the changing view. The fantastic wee exposure moments kept the mind focussed and we varied the order of leader and followers now and again and kept things relaxed. At the infamous bad step and after a quick look over, no one really fancied the exposure on a rope, so we opted for the right hand get-out-of-jail funnel, itself a tight, steep scramble. Just for fun we kept off the final grassy section of path to the top of the Saddle, instead playing our way up the last sections of optional rocks having a laugh. High-fives were distributed at the summit, with brilliant views in all directions, with the clouds perfectly above most of the high tops and sunshine breaking through to give superb contrasts. Lunch was well earned and enjoyed at the trig point, with Eigg, Rum and the Skye Cuillin all on show.

The girls were very taken with their guide's natty colour-coordinated gear, a lovely pseudo-butch combo of greens and olives, with jacket, breeks, t-shirt and boots, all topped with a super contrasting aubergine and gold braid hat! After a quick twirl and fashion shoot, we moved on and down into Bealach Coire Mhalagain in sunshine seeing a few ptarmigan and the intimidating big ravens clacking at us as we went. The first part of the next climb seemed to slow us down a wee bit and our Swiss “stalker” aka Toblerone Man snuck past us and ahead to the top before us, with the Lorna & Jo dreaming of his sack stuffed full of chocolate triangles! We had a quick blether with a couple of Lorna’s pals as they headed off in front of us, before our final summit push onto Sgurr na Sgine and another round of high-fives, more photos and grand vistas, but noticeably the cloud was lowering and thickening. After a quick break and confirmation that no one had the legs for an additional hill, we headed back along the ridge of Faochag for our final 360 view. The descent is steep and picky on the eroded path, especially with the greasy rocks so we cut a lot of the zig-zags on the grass to ease tired legs. The final lower sections to the stiles seemed to take an age to arrive and everyone was glad to hit the glen floor just as a few spots of rain were starting to fall.

More photos taken by Lorna are on our Flickr site.