994 m. |
Translation: Peak of the treasure
Pronuncation: skor na hoolya
These are two hills which receive not too much attention and are sort of off the beaten track. The weather being good we stuck to our plan of climbing Sgurr na-h Ulaidh and Beinn Fhionnlaidh together in one outing. The day before we had climbed the Glen Etive Five (Ben Starav to Meall nan Eun) and we still felt quite exhausted after that 35km, 2400m and 12 hours trip. As seems most economical when climbing both hills in one go we started the hike from Invercharnan in Glen Etive.
The walk through the forest was nice in so far as the trees provided for some shade against the morning sun. But it was no exactly scenic since a lot of road construction and tree felling had been and still was going on. After about 45 minutes we reached the upper perimeter of the forest and walked into the wide open corrie between the slopes of Meall nan Gobhar and Meall a’Bhuiridh, both foothills of their respective Munros. We headed up the corrie in a northerly direction following an indistinct track and traces of footpaths. After a kilometre and a half we headed up to the col between Meall a’Bhuiridh and the foot of the south-east ridge of Sgurr na-h Ulaidh. This part of the walk was quite interesting since grass gave way to slabs and vice versa. At the foot of Sgurr na-h Ulaidh’s south-east ridge we took a short break before we tackled this rather steep way of ascent – but there is no easy-angled up this hill anyway. There were outcrops and sections of grass which together form several steps in the ridge. This made for an interesting and entertaining climb. There are remnants of an old fence which can be a guide in bad weather but we did not need any artificial markings to find the way for it was a gloriously sunny day. So after some climbing and walking we reached the small summit plateau of the Sgurr and touched the cairn. Do I need to mention that the views were extensive, great and offered unfamiliar angles on well-known hills?
From the summit we continued on a path along the spine of the hill to Corr na Beinne and from there over increasingly steep grass slopes towards the beallach below Beinn Fionnlaidh. The last one or two hundred meters above the col had some tricky sections and some real care was required. We later concluded that we had erred a bit too far to the west and that easier slopes would have led down to the col further to the east. We crossed the burn which comes from the beallach and flows towards the west. The slope ahead looked very, very steep but the route ahead was clear. First up about 250 meters on grassy rakes straight before us and then turn left above the major outcrops (as described by Storer). And that’s what we did. Man, that was a real slog! This was one steep bugger of a slope. But with enough pauses for catching our breath it was doable. Soon (?) we reached the upper more stony slopes that lead up to Point 841m capped in white quartzite. We skipped this top and traversed below it directly to the grassy connecting ridge that heads towards Beinn Fionnlaidh. The final steepening and the last few spots before the Munro’s summit that required some very moderate hand-on-rock work were quite challenging to me due to the accumulated exhaustion. But then the summit of Beinn Fionnlaidh was there! Frank and I spent a good 20 minutes at the summit gathering our strength and looking out towards Ardnarmurchan, Glen Etive and Mull. Great vistas!
What was left for us then was the descent back to Invercharnan. We retraced our steps towards the Fionnlaidh/Point 841m col. From there we followed traces of a gravel path which runs diagonally across the eastern slopes of Point 841 and ends close to Meall nan Gobhar. From there a well-engineered if in its upper part somewhat eroded path leads back down to the corrie and back to the spot where the Landover track comes out from the forest and where we had started towards Ulaidh hours earlier. Once on the track it was a relaxing stroll through the fir trees back to our car.
This was a hike with two very sharp ascents, one sharp descent and a surprisingly great variety of terrain and rocks. A gratifying experience and a superb combination of two remote hills of two a different characters. Good and exhausting!
Max elevation: 1000 m
Min elevation: 3 m
Total climbing: 1886 m
Total descent: -1869 m
Total time: 09:02:14
Description Sgor na h-Ulaidh is an outlier of the Glen Coe mountains which is hidden from viewpoints in the glen by its prominent projecting ridge Aonach Dubh a' Ghlinne and its higher neighbour, Bidean nam Bian. However, like the other Glen Coe peaks, it is steep and rocky with a fine north face cleft by steep gullies at the head of the Allt na Muidhe. On its remoter south side it drops steeply to the headwaters of the River Creran. Two possible routes of ascent are from Glen Coe and Glen Etive. The Glen Coe route is the more popular, but it is steep in places and may be quite serious in winter. The less frequented Glen Etive route has the advantage that it is much easier.The Glen Coe approach starts from the A82 road near Achnacon and goes up the glen past the farm at Gleann-leac-na-muidhe. 2 kilometres beyond the farm climb up the steep grassy slopes on the east side of the glen to reach the ridge just north of Stob an Fhuarain. Traverse this peak, drop down to the col to its south-west and finally climb the rocky slope at the top of the north-east ridge of Sgor na h-Ulaidh to the summit.The Glen Etive approach starts from Invercharnan, following the route described for Beinn Fhionnlaidh. Once clear of the forest, bear north then north-west on a rising traverse across the west side of Meall a' Bhuiridh to reach the south-east ridge of Sgor na h-Ulaidh which is followed easily to the top.