Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Mamlorn Hills: Sgiath Chuil (270)

Walk date: 10/11/07
My Munro #'s: 140

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
Skeea-chool - back wing - 921m

Duration - 11:00-14:30
Distance - 16.2 km
Total ascent - 827m
Weather - Moderately gusty on ascent. Strong wind on summit. Brief light rain during descent.
Team - solo
Other hikers: two on summit just before I started final ascent.

A slight deviation west in my eagerness to descend!
Last week's hill, Meall Glas, is in the top left corner:

After losing out on Sgiath Chuil and the chance to reach halfway in the Munro tallies last weekend, I just couldn't resist another go this weekend. Even with weather forecasts predicting strong gusting winds up at height, I figured I would at least go and have a look just in case, and I was glad that I did!

Having decided that I would visit the south side of the hill this week, for no other reason than to have a different look at this hill, I parked up at the relevant lay-by on the A85 and made my way across the River Dochart and through Innishewan farm. Straight away after the farm the climbing begins, with a steep ascent through long grass and woodland. This section is very slow-going. Once you get above this, the main section begins, about 3km of wet, rough heather and grassland. My progress was not as quick as the distance would have suggested, with the steady but relentless ascent taking its toll. At least the weather remained dry, although the moderately gusty winds couldn't be ignored. Eventually I made it to the side of Sgiath Chrom, but only having a helpful increase in the incline.

A healthy River Dochart marks the start of this hike:

Fine views over heather and grass to Ben More:

Ben More again (R) with its impressive neighbour (L)
Stob Binnein:

Halfway sees this track on its flat way to the col
between Beinn Cheathaich and Sgiath Chuil:

For most of the way Sgiath Chrom here hides the target:

It is only after rounding Sgiath Chrom that the summit of Sgiath Chuil comes rightly into view, as does the entire eastern edge of this huge mound of a hill. After a quick bearing to ensure I was heading for the right top, I set off up some exceptionally steep grass slopes in a direct line to the summit cairn. Without having had a proper stop in order to quicken my progress, I found this section very tiring, but the nearness of the top kept me going and soon enough (as measured by time, not mental excursion) I was sat next to the cairn enjoying truly great 360-degree views, taking in the Lawers group, Ben Vorlich and the Bridge of Orchy Hills, the latter dotted with snow!

An intended stroll around the top was cut short by a sudden increase in the wind, as I figured that I had had my luck for the day. I thanked the hill for allowing the visit, and I set off down the tiring grass slopes making decent time back to the car despite ending up descending through the wrong wood at the bottom! A satisfying feeling to visit what had been a near-miss hill, but I would imagine that the north side would make a better walk in general as the entire south ridge would be your ascent route. However, with the wind as high as it was on this day, I was glad to only get exposed at the very end of the day. That's it for this year I think, let's hike again in the spring...

The end is nigh, just near vertical grass left!

Ben Vorlich (L) and Stuc a' Chroin (R) to the SE:

Meall Ghaordie to the NE:

C'mon! The cairn finally in sight:

Some heavy weather happening to the west:

Last week's hill, Meall Glas on the left with Beinn
Cheathaich on the right:

The summit panorama:

Cloud low down over Crianlarich:

These fellows remained down at the bottom and
remained confused as to my passing each way:


From the last Munro post, I promised Eric that I would list my kit contains. Here we go then.

First of all, I generally wear thermal trousers except in high summer, then standard walking trousers over them. On top I just wear normal T-shirts although I do own a couple of hiking shirts. I always have a light-weight jumper and a good water-proof. Good quality hat, water-proof gloves, four-season boots and good gaitors make up the rest of my normal wear.

Other pack contents:
Spare jumper (i.e. in addition to the one above)
Spare hiking socks (big wet rivers anyone?)
Foil sleeping bag (in effect these are rubbish and I need to upgrade to a proper dense-packing thermal job)
Plastic two-man survival bag (ideally used in conjunction wth the thermal sleeping bag)
Water-proof outer gloves
Torch (I should upgrade to a head-torch)

As for food, as minimum I always carry:
2.5L water minimum
1L hot drink
3xApples/other fruit inc dried fruit

Do you think I need more?

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Blogger Scott said...

Can't wait until spring to hear more about your hikes. Thanks for posting the info on your kit--very interesting.

13 November 2007 at 13:58  
Blogger eric said...

Hey Andrew - Another great post and thanks much for the equipment list. You’ve got to admire a man who sets out with 3.5 liters of liquid on his back! You and I have many common items in our packs, but I find your specialization of particular interest.

I have a couple of different head lamps and recently got a cheap one with LEDs. The batteries last forever, and I’d imagine that a similar unit of slightly higher quality would be a really worthwhile investment.

Also, for summer sleeping and winter emergencies I carry along a lightweight polar fleece sleeping bag liner tucked inside a Black Diamond winter bivy sack. I used this one night when the temp got down to 2C and was still comfortable. It takes up very little pack space, weighs next to nothing, and is entirely waterproof and breathable – maybe an option to consider.

I’d hate to wait until next spring for your next post – your photography is amazing and your voice unique. Keep it up! Thanks again and take care.

14 November 2007 at 17:08  
Blogger George Walks said...

Scott - Well, there could be some hiking in late winter but for that I would incurr the wrath of the Sonia!!

Eric - You're totally welcome, and thanks for such a positive write-up. That bag sounds like just the kind of thing I am after, I will check it out. Maybe I should also carry whisky in case one day I am truly not going to make it!!

14 November 2007 at 18:24  

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