Friday, June 23, 2006

Achnashellach and Torridon Hills - Beinn Alligin: Tom na Guagaich (268) and Sgurr Mhor

Walk date: 01/05/06
My Munro #'s: 71 and 72

Tom na Guagaich looking chilly:

The ridge north off Tom na Guagaich:

The impressive Eag Dubh na Eigheachd:

At last, Sgurr Mhor. Time to go home!

Yours truly, taking in the Scottish Spring:

Hiking Expedition 2006! 08:30-14:30. The 'Horns of Alligin' are enthused about in many a guidebook. However, still suffering from my Aonach Eagach hangover, I didn't want to commit to them straight-off. To this end then, instead of the circular route recommended by my guidebook in a counter-clockwise direction, I decided to flip it round, thus making the Horns an optional extra with re-tracing my steps from Sgurr Mhor being the main idea. As it turned out, the snow that came down on this day, put any notion of the Horns far from my mind, even threatening the attempt on Sgurr Mhor!

From the carpark, immediately next to the bridge on the road I headed LEFT of the river to the start of the path toward Tom na Gruagaich. The going was steady on a decent path, but one unfortunately blighted in sections by boggy ground; this day was very wet and the low cloud completely hid the hill somewhere ahead. From the lower ground, a steep stile soon led to a greater incline and the lack of view made the word of a woman from the hostel, 'You're going west to east? That's so steep!', magnify in their power of foreboding! In actual fact, it was nothing particularly bad, just an honest direct approach on a Munro hill. By 500m, all the rain around had become snow and the ground started to get rather white, obscuring the path. Not that there was much choice; the channel of Coir nan Laogh has sheer sides!

Guidebooks talk about the sudden revealing of the view from Tom na Guagaich and I can imagine this is the case as the hill blocks all views until the trig point is reached when the ground immediately falls away. However, on this day, all that could be seen was white in all directions!

After the steep incline up to Tom na Guagaich, the second part I was really worried about had to be tackled. This was the ridge that drops down from this hill to the north and the way ahead. From the map, this looked incredibly narrow and fairly steep. No matter though, as even in the fresh snow it was at worst some enjoyable scrambling and mostly a straightforward path, I just made sure I took one step at a time.

In bad visibilty watch out for the cairn at 862m, as wishful thinking can make you imagine its Sgurr Mhor. Sgurr Mhor itself is soon reached however, that is after the impressive Eag Dubh na Eigheachd gash and a quick left at the end of the climb. Here is the point from which you can progress over the Horns, but like I said, not for me in conditions such as this day's. If they are for you, then nice one, and enjoy! Me, it was back along the same route. No problems encoutered.

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