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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