Sunday, August 19, 2012

Glen Affric and Strathfarrar: Sgurr na Ruaidhe (151) and Carn nan Ghobhar (153)

Walk date: 30/04/12
My Munro #'s: 221 and 222

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
Skoor na rooy - peak of redness - 993m
Kaarn nan gower - hill of the goats - 992m

Duration - 10:00 - 16:15
Distance - 21.7 km
Total ascent - 1200m
Weather - damp and misty, windy with hail and snow at height
Team - solo
Other hikers: none

Paul P and George 'Daddy Team' Hiking Trip 2012
Day 2 - MondayThe second of our big days was wisely chopped down to size, in fact for Paul it didn't happen at all as he opted to sit today out to ensure his various niggles from the terrible Loch Mullardoch experience the day before didn't end up finishing his entire week early for him.  For me, despite a battered ankle I decided to press on, although I prepared myself for abandoning the full plan if problems did indeed arise.There was almost one to start with as the turn for Strathfarrar is completely unmarked, however I did make it for the gate opening at 09:00 and drove up the private track to the power station marked.  After the glorious weather the day before, this was a dull day with a heavy sky, as if the weather had changed to match the mood and fitness levels!  I could have parked closer to the walk and wished that I had, as the short patch of road on a bashed ankle was extremely unforgiving.  Nonetheless, I was soon on the track and gaining height, and in my hobbling way I progressed steadily.Unfortunately the cloud seemed to hang just below the snow line and so I was soon faced with the disorientation of white sky and white ground and for good lengths of time I made my way over icy slabs with no definition whatsoever.  As the height increased so did the wind and I was soon blasted with horizontal hail and snow.  With my GPS and compass firmly gripped I finally made it onto Sgurr na Ruaidhe and moved off immediately toward Carn nan Gobhar.  After this hill I dropped a little too quickly and had to traverse soft snow for some distance.  I was very glad to hit the crest again.  Although the weather was being fierce my progress was actually good, and I was toying with myself of going for the three or even the four instead of just the first two as I'd been telling myself on the way up.  However, this internal debate came to a head as I tried to make my way across to Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais; I came to a point where my way on was a convex slope of pure white with some distant black jagged rocks.  The slope disappeared out of sight and the scale could not be made out.  This situation like a switch hit my personal safety alarm and the decision was made; I was turning south and escaping off An Socach for home.  There is always another day.

One of the only photos, I carried the weight of the camera for nothing on this day!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Glen Affric and Strathfarrar: Carn nan Gobhar (152), Sgurr na Lapaich (24), An Riabhachan (29) and An Socach (67)

Walk date: 29/04/12
My Munro #'s: 217, 218, 219 and 220

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
Kaarn nan gower - hill of the goats - 992m
Skoor na lahpeech - peak of the bog - 1150m
An reeavachan - the brindled, greyish one - 1086m
An sochkach - the snout - 1069m

Duration - 09:00 - 22:00
Distance - 35 km
Total ascent - 1900m
Weather - Absolutely glorious most of the day with a cool wind in the evening.
Other hikers: many
Team - with Paul P

Paul P and George 'Daddy Team' Hiking Trip 2012
Day 1 - Sunday

And so, my link to the hiking world is restored!  The annual Hike Week returns!  Eagerly looked forward to, this year saw Paul and I head out to the Central Highlands, to the Alder group and then back to the West Highlands to finish off Knoydart and Loch Quoich.  We had some big days planned, and by and large we managed it.  Fortunately, we chose the only good week of weather for the whole summer!

We kicked things off with one of our biggest days, and one which almost finished us off! We headed deep into Glen Cannich to the head of the dam holding back the insanely long Loch Mullardoch.  A line of four magnificent Munros lies to the north of this loch, but it is no easy circular walk as the path along the loch barely justifies the name.  Most hikers opt for the loch first and then gain height, and this tradition is reinforced by the fact that there used to be a boatman to take hikers to the far point.  Paul and I however were too keen to take in some hills and so we went up first, little did we know how much impact that decision would have!

The route up onto Carn nan Gobhar was a little hard going, with no clear path, and lots of long grass and mud in the early morning sun.  It was a relief to hit the snow line and have some hard ground beneath us.  From here, Sgurr na Lapaich looked impossible, a sharp peak rising above a wall of snow, but as we moved on, the slopes slowly started to become believable, and some hard kicks into fresh snow was the most that was required as we gained the height.  At this height the walking was some of the best ever, beautiful fresh snow, hardly any wind and warm sunshine.  It was truly as good as it gets.

After Sgurr na Lapaich, An Riabhachan came easy with little height being lost, but the way onto An Socach was much harder, with a very steep snow-covered slope needing to be negotiated, one tentative foot-slide at a time.  After An Socach, we kept with the plotted route gently down to Loch Mullardoch, but in retrospect we would have been much better to retrace our steps and head down Sron na Frithe, or at least aim for Allt Coire a' Mhaim, as both of these options would have put us further along Loch Mullardoch and given us less of the horrendous walking conditions along its banks.  The path got better as we went along, but that was from non-existent to acceptable, so it was never ideal.  Paul's knee came a cropper pretty early on, and by the end my ankle was bad too, the pace dropping all the time.  We ended up getting back to the car at 22:00, and we still didn't have phone reception to make sure people knew we were safe.  It was another half hour before I had to beg for forgiveness from Sonia and promise that we would do better next time!!  And almost another two hours before we would get something to eat!  

It was fun though!

First sign of the hills in the morning!

And Loch Mullarodch up close:Gaining that tricky height:

The summit of Carn nan Gobhar:

On the back of Carn nan Gobhar:
First views of Sgurr na Lapaich:

Here we go:
Getting close:
Sliding down Carn nan Gobhar:
Finally going up again:
Now that's getting steep:
Surveying our achievements:

From whenst we came:
The summit of Sgurr na Lapaich:
Time for lunch:

A cold spot!

Paul happy with his efforts:

An Riabhachan:

Paul coming up on An Riabhachan:

Thar she blows!

The summit cairn:

An Socach, end of the line!

Looking west up the rest of the loch as we started the long walk out:

Labels: , , , , , , , ,