Sunday, June 30, 2013

Loch Treig and Loch Ossian: Carn Dearg (231) and Sgor Gaibhre (208)

Walk date: 15/4/13
My Munro #'s: 237 and 238

Pronunciations - translations - heights:

Kaarn jarrack - red hill - 941m
Skor gyra - goat's peak - 955m
Duration - 09:45 - 16:45
Distance -  27.3 km
Total ascent -  1312m
Weather - very mixed.  Dry throughout but never settling on wind, sun, or cloud...
Team - with Paul P

Other hikers: none

After the severe weather of the previous days, it was a relief to have one vaguely forecast to be acceptable.  However, the predicted 60 mph winds meant that we did change the route from a circular ridge walk to one going straight up the glen and then jutting out to each peak, a 'T' if you will!

After a lengthy drive from Pitlochry on exceptionally windy roads, we pitched up near the extremely remote Rannoch Station and started off up the good Landrover track.  This was only slightly delayed by a river crossing slightly too wide and deep to stride through, fortunately the next, bigger, one had a bridge!

To take the glen route, as the turn at a small forest is reached, leave the good path and take the thin trail alongside the Allt Eigheach, this improves as it goes along and it soon meets a deerstalker's track and so widens a little although it was rather wet on this day.

As height was slowly gained we started to enter the snow fields, patchy at first, but then more constant, with plenty of melt-water streams underneath ready to catch you out (up to my knee in one on the way up!).

Making a line up the bank of Carn Dearg, we eventually kicked our way up onto the crest, and were met by the forecast blustery winds, but fortunately also the expected incomparable views across the bleak wilderness of Rannoch Moor and Loch Ossian, over to Beinn na Lap and the imposing Ben Alder group.  We felt truly privileged to be there, but also well aware that this was wild land, and it was our responsibility to work at getting back safely!

After the summit of Carn Dearg, we almost went wrong immediately, strutting off down the northwestern spur before correcting ourselves with a compass bearing!  From there it was plain sailing down and up onto Sgor Gaibhre, simple even on snow.  Only the return down into the glen was problematic as the meltwater streams hiding under the snow were plentiful and deep.

Once back to the path the long stride out beckoned, but a lone hiker in the distance provided a quarry to keep a pace on, and we were soon enough back at the car.

Looking down the glen before the final climb:

Wild Rannoch!

Loch Ossian:

Sgor Gaibhre from Carn Dearg:

Getting closer:
Ben Alder:

Paul on Sgor Gaibhre:

And me:

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Glen Affric and Strathfarrar: Sgurr Fhuar-thuill (82) but NOT Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais (60)

Walk date: 14/04/13

My Munro #'s: 236

Pronunciations - translations - heights:

Skoor ooar hil - peak of the cold hollow - 1049m
Duration - 10:00 - 14:30
Distance -  10.8km
Total ascent -  1045m
Weather - calm in morning, hint of sun and blue sky, very windy along top ridge.  Heavy rain at the end of the day.
Team - with Paul P
Other hikers: none

Loch Toll a' Mhuic:
With a forecast of winds upto 100mph in the afternoon, there was considerable discussion with the team at home regarding whether or not anything at all should be attempted on this day, but with the forecast also predicting a 'lull' in the morning, we decided to reduce our aims and just try the one hill which would mean minimal time up at height and maximum protection against the wind.

And so, after a tremendous breakfast at the Struy Inn, we drove up lonely Strathfarrar and set off on a good Landrover track over the lower slopes, soon gaining reasonable height.  The river beside the track was immediately a torrent, and the waterfalls marked on the map were very impressive.  

Above the waterfalls was a small bridge which would have been used on the way down if we had still been going for the circuit, but that will be for another time.

After that the path becomes more winding, but also flattens out and progress was good.  However, just below the loch in the corrie the path hits a river but there was no crossing possible with the depth of the flow going through.

In soggy conditions then we had a last ditch effort to round the loch just in case it was possible, but fully expecting to have to turn back. Fortunately the far side was quite manageable, and we were soon back on the path entering the high corrie below Sgurr na Fearstaig and treading over thick patches if snow.

With cornices above, Paul spotted a diagonal line of snow moving NE which indeed turned into the route onward, helpfully confirmed later on by snowy footprints.  This route was hard going, with a deep snow ascent being replaced by a slippery traverse on all fours.

Eventually, we made it onto the broad ridge, with less than 500m to the summit.  Here the winds were strong but manageable, I would guess being 50-60 with gusts of 70mph.  A quick tap of the cairn then and we were retracing our steps.

As predicted, as soon as we were off the ridge, we weren't really affected by the wind, and soon we were making a decent quick descent in the increasing rain, looking forward to a dry car, a late lunch, and an eventual dinner in Pitlochry at The Moulin Inn.  

The shortened day means Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais is the only hill in the whole district that hasn't received my attention, but somehow I'll cope with having to stay at the Struy Inn again, and it's always better safe than sorry!

That tricky traverse on the way down:

Looking south with Sgurr na Muice on the right:

Me 'enjoying' the traverse:

Making good progress once down:

The diagonal of the traverse visible on the slope:

The Moulin!

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