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Sgurr na Ciche and a summit camp

 
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Byrdman
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:58 pm    Post subject: Sgurr na Ciche and a summit camp Reply with quote

TRIP REPORT: Show trip details

Sgurr na Ciche, Garbh Chioch Mhor, Sgurr nan Coireachan, Sgurr Mor

Date: 28-30 August 2020


For as long as I can remember, whenever people have asked me what my favourite mountain is I have always said ‘Sgurr na Ciche’. (Actually, I don’t exactly get asked this question every day, although it strikes me that it’s just the kind of leftfield question that bank security systems should set up for phone calls, followed by… ‘and one final question sir, could you just remind me what your favourite breed of otter is?’) Where was I? Ah yes. Thirty-something years after the first time, I’ve now climbed Sgurr na Ciche again, and it has gone up even higher in my opinion. But I realise that what I really meant by ‘favourite’ was ‘favourite to look at’. That conical shape takes me back to the kind of mountains I drew when I was a kid. But it may not – yet – be my favourite hill to actually climb. That’s because both times I’ve been up from…

P1060948 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Glen Dessary. Now that part of the route, down by Glendessary Lodge, is fine. But once past Upper Glendessary, the track is notoriously boggy. And worse, the ugly…
P1060949 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…forestry plantation cuts off the view across the glen. Basically, it’s a bit dank and hemmed in. And let’s be honest here, it does go on a bit.

We’d set off from Loch Arkaig late in the afternoon, and by the time we’d passed the top of the forestry and reached the top of Glen Dessary, it was time to camp. From here, at least we were in a great position to be up high…
IMG_5553 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…early the following morning. Not a bad morning at all. Across on…
P1060952 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Bidein a’ Chabhair there was evidence of rain, but sun too. The route up to the Feadan na Ciche – basically climbing up and around a stream – is a bit clarty, but once up at the watershed, the going underfoot improves. Overhead it improved too. The cloud started to…
P1060955 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…melt away, and I realized that we were going to get a result. We did. And this next photo, looking down the west ridge to…
P1060962 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Loch Nevis, is why I hope that Ciche may one day be my favourite hill to climb, as well as to look at. An emphatic result! And yes, I had planned to go up via this ridge, but for various tedious reasons it was just impractical on this trip. One day.

Next up, Garbh Chioch Mhor. Another goodie. Every garden should have a good water feature, and…
IMG_5558 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Garbh Chioch Mhor certainly does. Also a nice…
P1060967 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…stone installation. I’d be fascinated to know the real history of this wall. Even where it is obviously intact, it’s often far too low to act as a bar to an aspirant sheep. And if it was just a boundary marker, didn’t the ridge already provide that? In lieu of a real history, I’ve invented my own, in which an absentee landlord in London or Edinburgh – who doesn’t know he’s talking about the roughest terrain in Britain – just orders it to be built on a whim to stop poaching by another estate. Bearing in mind the scenery (although they’d probably end up shooting it somewhere in New Zealand, with sandflies acting as doubles for midges) I think this has the makings of a good film. But where could the obligatory love interest be worked into the script? Could this be a period Brokeback Mountain?

Another silly idea I’ve had (and I’m not short of them) is that someone should do a guide called ‘Munros the Hard Way’. In other words, finding the most ‘entertaining’ way to reach the summit of every Munro. Reaching the top of Garbh Chioch Mhor direct from Coire nan Gall (i.e. up the cliff on the left of…
P1060969 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…this photo) would be a good example. Of course, the craggy western hills would be no great challenge to put in this kind of guide. But how about the Drumochter hills? Mount Keen?

From the summit of Garbh Chioch Mhor we could see right down the western seaboard from…
IMG_5560 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr…the view was glorious – here panning from Eigg down to Ben More on Mull. And looking down into…
P1060979 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Coir nan Gall. Very much a corrie of two halves. The middle of this corrie is as clear a divide as I know between the hills of the west and those of the centre.

We stopped for lunch on the ridge of Garch Chioch Bheag, and passed the time of day with two lovely young doctors. One of them was currently posted to the Belford in Fort William, and said she’d hardly seen a day’s rain there in the last month or so. Never mind global pandemics, when the Western Highlands are dry during August, we really do know that we’re living in odd times.

From the top of the third summit, Sgurr nan Coireachan…
IMG_5566 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Shinty could admire the view south. And looking east, we could see the rest of the ridge, all the way along to…
P1060981 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Sgurr Mor. Here, by the way, is more evidence that the Weather was all over in the east.

From An Eag we could see down into sweeping…
P1060986 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Glen Kingie. The rain was dancing around, but never quite landing on us. Thank you, rain, for respecting social distance like this.

Across the glen was…
P1060992 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Druim a’ Chuirn. The first time I came this way was with a New Zealand friend, Phil, and I remember pointing at this hill and making the supremely crass comment that ‘mountains are big things, aren’t they?’ After he’d been silent for about five seconds I remembered that two weeks earlier he’d been staring at the South Face of Annapurna. Well, all things are relative.

We got to the top of Sgurr Mor early in the evening, and decided to camp on top. I remembered reading somewhere that this is an ideal place for a summit camp, because there is a good water source very close to the top. Fine, but could I remember in which direction? Nup. Well, I did find water, but I had to go at least a hundred metres down into Coire nan Laogh for it. Damn the West! Why does it have to be so darn dry over this side of the country?

Anyway, tent up, and time to look at the view. Back along the ridge to…
P1060997 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Garbh Chioch Mhor, Sgurr na Ciche, and Eigg between. Further north was…
P1060998 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Ladhar Bheinn and Gillean on Skye. Memories, memories, memories! And lovely…
P1070001 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Lochan nan Breac, which only three weeks ago we were spying from the other side, over in Knoydart heaven.

The west may always look glam at this time of day, but the east has jewels too. Such as…
P1070003 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Ben Tee. And the greatest jewel of all – sunlight.

Time to bed down, and read from the Book of Eternal Wisdom we’ve been enjoying on hill camps this summer. Yes, Finn Family Moomintroll! What could we learn from tonight’s reading? Ah yes, that they call their boat The Adventure. So yes, from now on our Tarptent will be known as…
P1070002 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
The Adventure. Inside, Caroline decided to utilise…
P1070006 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Shinty as a hot water bottle. The dog was too pooped to object.

One last…
P1070007 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…view out to the west before the sun went down.

Not a bad night at all. Not windy, not particularly cold. We woke in the cloud, but it was still magical. And after breakfast, and the descent towards Glen Kingie. And here, for this first time I can remember, I did a thing you’re not supposed to do in the hills. I fell down! Nothing serious – just a bruise to my elbow and dignity – but still, it makes me long for the days when I was a Weeble. I’ve since been doing some research, and I gather there’s a term for the condition I’m developing. Age. Perhaps I was looking at the view too much, as things started to clear. Here…
P1070010 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…is Loch Quoich. And round the ridge, vanishing up towards…
P1070014 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
Sgurr an Fhurain. Best of all, though, was the view back west and…
P1070019 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…yesterday’s hills coming out to play.

By the time we reached the floor of…
P1070024 by SIMON RAVENS, on Flickr
…Glen Kingie, and started to see the first walkers heading in to Sgurr Mor for the day, the light had flattened out. Still lovely, but give me either end of a hill day any day. So here’s to The Adventure and all who sail in her!


Last edited by Byrdman on Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Squiz
Sir Hugh
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Joined: Jun 20, 2008
Posts: 11481
Location: Fife

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2020 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that this could count as a September TR being posted in Sept so it doesn't have to fight it out with the other Knoydart report for TR of the month.. On the other hand it DESERVES TR of the month, so I'll wait and see what happens to the other one before nominating this for EITHER month.

Lovely route and pictures.

I googled "Munros the Hard Way" and came up with Steve Fallo'ns 10 hardest Munros, so I put it in Amazon and it came up with Ant Middleton's "Zero Negativity". As if we didn't have enough trouble from rogue algorithms lately. But I do know my favourite breed of otter......sir.
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malky_c
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Joined: Jul 10, 2010
Posts: 4054
Location: Glasgow/Inverness

Logged:
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2020 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Knoydart summit camp....well that's me officially jealous!

A great looking couple of days out there Cool .
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munros111
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2020 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a fine trip that was,done them from Sourlies by ridge you mention but still have Sgurr Mor to do,might have to do them all again.
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rockhopper63
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2020 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic stuff - enjoyed that. Am more than a bit green Mr. Green Mr. Green - cheers Smile
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vuirich
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another great trip. Cool Where's next on the linear itinerary?
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Byrdman
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Joined: Dec 17, 2012
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Logged:
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vuirich wrote:
Another great trip. Cool Where's next on the linear itinerary?

Well done for remembering our planned 'Long March' to Ben Avon! But I sort of wish you hadn't, since for various reasons (covid, weather, age) meant that we put this to one side and decided to just do what we could when we could.
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ProfRob
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

v good. Serious hills to carry packs over.
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OwdJockey
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2020 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brings back memories of a tough day out 18 years ago. Unfortunatley Sgurr Nan Ciche was in the clag and it was blowing a hooly!

Both my 'squidge' hounds are used as hot water bottles! Very Happy
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hopper68
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2020 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent, I plan to visit these hills soon.. cheers Stevie
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hopper68
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent trip, i plan to go into this area soon ..thanks for sharing
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