Monday, 10 February 2014

Strathfarrar Munros, Nov'13

Heading up from Gleann na Muice
Doing the Strathfarrar Munros in winter has pros and cons. On the minus side there's limited daylight in which to ensure a complete traverse of the 4 Munros is done in daylight. One the plus side you obtain the code to locked gate so there's no strict time in which to return. I think that the latter outweighs the former, hence why we opt to head up these peaks at this time of year. And last year we had some fabulous winter views, so hopefully this year's trip would be blessed with similar !

We had 12 folk booked onto this event, plus Tarn the dog. We all met near the end of the public road and condensed into 3 vehicles. Driving up the private road, we kept an eye out for wildlife - a few deer, a heron and a buzzard were all that was spotted. To the day's start spot, I then drove back to our end point, followed by Philip, to leave a vehicle to save tired legs at the end of the day. Philip and I then hiked at a fast pace to catch up with the rest of the group who were now well into Coire Muice.

Creag Ghorm a'Bhealaich - spot the avalanche !
Collected together, we started walking on snow just above Loch Toll a'Mhuic, higher up it looked pretty thick. Weather was glorious, sun beaming on smiling faces. The higher we got, the deeper the snow became. At around 800m Martin and myself decided that wading through more of the white powder along the buried stalker's path was just going to be too hard work, so instead we got the group together for a chat. The hillside directly above us looked fine, however it was crowned by a small cornice. Martin and I decided it would be safe enough for the two of us to break through, then rope folk up one-by-one. Everyone seemed happy with this, and the group gathered out of danger to enjoy the views and get a spot of lunch while Martin and I went to work.

On Sgurr a'Choire Ghlais
Once through, we got the group up, belaying them on the end of a rope. An experience that everyone enjoyed, the smiles telling all. Once onto the crest, progress was much easier - wind had scraped the ground clear of deep snow, with only a light surface needing broken through. The group bounded on with great enthusiasm, over the minor top of Sgurr na Fearstaig and onto our first Munro Sgurr Fhuar-thuill. The views were amazing today, crystal clear and far distant. After much photo taking, we headed for our next Munro Sgurr a'Choire Ghlais. Of course there was another minor summit on the way - Creag Ghorm a'Bhealach, where our first avalanche of this winter was seen.

Heading up Carn nan Gobhar
After this Munro, the group split into two - those who were determined to get all 4 Munros would continue on and those who were enjoying the scenery and happy with two Munro summits would descend from the next col at a more leisurely pace. I took the determined group and we continued eastwards, upping the pace slightly. Descending Sgurr a'Choire Ghlais, particularly in poor visibility, needs care ! Up onto Carn nan Gobhar seemed like an easy hike, whereas the ascent up Sgurr na Ruaidhe goes on for quite some time. Up to this last Munro summit as the last of the sun's rays disappeared. Yupp, we were in darkness and using torches for much of the descent !

A fantastic day out and great crowd. We hope to be bagging the two easterly Munros in this range sometime in the next few months.

More photos are on our Flickr site.

Details of the route are here.