Thursday, July 08, 2010

Knoydart and Loch Quoich: Sgurr nan Coireachan (213), Garbh Chioch Mhor (116) and Sgurr na Ciche (92)

Walk date: 29/5/10 (Saturday)
My Munro #'s: 197, 198 and 199

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
Skoor nan korachan - peak of the corries - 953m
Garav kee-ach voar - big rough place of the breast - 1013m
Skoor na keesh - peak of the breast - 1040m

Duration - 10:00? - 20:00
Distance - 28.4km
Total ascent - not recorded
Weather - poor from first hill, constant rain, wind and low cloud until back in glen
Team - Paul P
Other hikers: 5

Paul P and George 'Knoydart and around' hiking 2010

This turned out to be the last hiking day of this trip, and what an epic to finish on! This was always going to be a big day, but add in fatigue, poor weather, a wrong turn and an end-of-day race for food, and this is a day we won't forget in a while!

This hike had the same route in as the day before, with the endless drive along Loch Arkaig giving us plenty of time to contemplate that task ahead. This time we stayed in Glen Dessarry past the lodge until the road ran out and became a good, if wet, path deep into the hills. After a river crossing, a small cairn marked the point of climbing, and a descent path took us up toward first target Sgurr nan Coireachan.

As we hit the broad summit here, the cloud and rain hit us, and basically stayed all day. With a combination of a miscommunication between us and a couple of hikers we met, the flat summit, the low visibility and unbelievably not taking a bearing, it turned out we set off from this hill the wrong way, heading over toward yesterday's Sgurr Mor rather than Garbh Chioch Mhor, and we got all the way until An Eag before realising over mistake, once we met some more hikers who set us right (the irony being we had thought about doing all 4 hills in one, but reckoned it would have been too much!).

Given that the day was big and tight for time anyway, such an event was not welcomed, but we decided the objective was still possible, and set into a 'repair situation' pace, stomping back up Coireachan despite burning thighs. Now, with GPS and compass firmly in hand, we made off steeply down to the col, and onto the long back of Garbh Chioch Mor. In the cloud, this hill was unforgiving, one of those 'the next top is the peak', but then it never is, until you're ready to give up!

Eventually, the summit came, but we didn't hang about, instead dropping the short distance before finally Sgurr na Ciche was in front of us. This pyramidal peak has the ascent path you would expect, and I for one felt no shame in dropping my pack at the col where we would soon return. Savouring the last peak of the holiday, we powered up the 200m or so final ascent, which included some fun scrambly sections, feeling great once on top, but still without any views to speak off, a shame as we knew our other Knoydart peaks were just beyond the mist.

Off from the col, the descent made its way along a rocky river course, and I was happy that there hadn't been much more rain recently! After that rough slopes slowly took us back into the glen and a very long trek along it. However, with the last orders for food at Invergarry Hotel prominent in our minds, we powered along it as fast as we could. It was then left to Paul to do that awful drive one more time, getting us to the Hotel bang on 21:00 when they graciously accepted our orders!!

One last note, I had tried to give food orders over the phone as soon as we got reception. Although they wouldn't take them, but said they would look out for us. This led to me announcing upon arrival that we had 'phoned ahead'. Promptly, a tourist at the bar, thought I had said we had 'found a head'! You can just imagine the scene, as we burst in with dirty hiking gear looking bedraggled announcing body parts out in the hills. A great end to the week!

While we still had views, Sgurr na Ciche looks good:

Is that rain that cometh?

Sgurr na Ciche was the next photo:

That descent route:

Coming out the other side:

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