Thursday, June 22, 2006

Achnashellach and Torridon Hills - Beinn Eighe: Ruadh-stac Mor (120) and Spidean Coire nan Clach (150)

Walk date: 30/04/06
My Munro #'s: 69 and 70

Looking down the corrie over Loch Coire Mhic Fherchair:

The extremely sheer drops of Coinneach Mhor:

Coming up on Ruadh-stac Mor:

Great views of Liathach from Coinneach Mhor:

Approaching Spidean Coire nan Clach:

Hiking Expedition 2006! 08:30-15:00. From the car park at 957568, the good and obvious path rises gently as it rounds Stuc a' Choire Dhuibh Bhig at the eastern end of Liathach and is then flat and simple all the way into the corrie of Loch Coire Mhic Fherchair, which actually takes a surprisingly long time to get to.

The corrie itself is really is impressive as the guidebooks make out, with crystal clear water revealing rocky and algae-clad sections of the loch-bed, coupled with the three mighty buttresses of Sail Mhor. From the corrie, the first target, Ruadh-stac Mor, can be seen clearly provided there's no cloud in the way. My original plan for an ascent had been to climb the grass and rock slopes to hit the hill's spine north of its col with Coinneach Mhor, however the snow that remained in the short gully to the col revealed footprints, and these tempted me to take that route. Unfortunately, the snow on this section was much harder and icier than I had expected, especially given the soft snow the day before on Liathach. To add to it, the dry sections were made up of the loosest type of scree. Progress was all-round slow. About half-way up, some easy-looking scrambling routes over the rising rock sides became apparent, and I decided to give them a go. Soon however, the scrambling increased in incline and started to get worryingly near the foreboding sheer drops on the eastern end of Coinneach Mhor's north wall. Some retraced steps got me next to the snow channel again, but thankfully higher up than I'd left it! From here, a short horizontal version of the previous day's kicking and punching efforts got me to the footsteps again, which at the higher altitude were solid enough to not give way, and so could act as a useful staircase! Once on top, Ruadh-stac Mor was easily reached and I spent the way wondering how the grassy slopes would have worked out.

From the summit, the col was soon revisited and a stiff but short climb got me onto Coinneach Mhor. From that point on the route was easy with no real danger as long as you keep away from the edge! A good climb gets you onto the trig point, but look at the map closely as the actual summit of 933m is a short distance NNE with the link involving some light scrambling (although it could prove heavier with ice!).

Returning to the trig point, a quick southward stretch gets you to the cairn that marks the start of the easterly drop down along side Coire an Laoigh. On this day the slopes were heavily snow-laden which made things interesting though manageable. The rest of the route back is a simple path followed by the inevitable road walk, but it comes with excellent views of Liathach!

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