944 m. |
Translation: Big black peak
Pronuncation: skoor doo moar
June 2017 was a rather wet month in the Northwest Highlands. Frank and I had experienced what it means to be scrambling in the Skye Cuillins in bad weather in 2007 when we climbed five Skye Munros in clag, got drenched to the bones on more than one occasion and turned back a few dozen metres below the summit of Sgurr Dubh Mor because the rocks were wet and slippery on the more exposed parts of the scramble. So this time we patiently waited for a weather forecast predicting acceptable conditions in the Cuillins.
Thursday 8 June 2017 was such a day. At about nine o’clock we parked our car at the end of the public road in Glen Brittle and set off towards Coire a’Ghrunnda. The going on the broad path was easy until we rounded Sron na Ciche and the steep rocky climb into Coire a’Ghrunnda proper started. Once the first steep section was completed at about 400m the lip of the upper corrie girt by large rocks, boulder fields and the outflow of the loch cascading down over a succession of slabs came into view about 250m above our present position. We continued the climb up the steep path on the very left-hand side of the corrie through scree and over boulders in the passing company of three or four other groups of hikers. Some minor scrambling was called for before we reached the Loch Coire a’Ghrunnda at about 700m. This is a real gem of a corrie! We sat close by the shoreline of the loch and marvelled at the scenery trying to name the hills which encircle the loch.
Our aim was Sgurr Dubh Mor which is not visible from the corrie since its slightly lower sibling Sgurr Dubh an da Bheinn and Caisteal a’ Garbh-choire line the main Cuillin ridge and block the view towards the Munro located on a side ridge leading towards the east. From the loch we climbed up towards the Bealach a’ Garbh-choire but aimed too far south so that some nice exposed scrambling was called for on the ridge before the Bealach a’ Garbh-choire and the path contouring around Caisteal a’ Garbh-choire were reached. Then it was a more or less straightforward scramble up to the top of Sgurr Dubh an da Bheinn and from there a short descent towards the bealach between the two Sgurr Dubhs.
By that time Frank had made substantially more progress than me. He had already climbed Sgurr Dubh Mor in the wake of a guided group when I reached the scrambly bit of the final 40 or 50m up to the hill’s summit. I embarked on the climb, let the guided group pass me by on their return from the summit and met Frank who helpfully showed me the best way up over ledges and slabs. Nothing really difficult if you have a head for heights and know the best line. We did not linger long at the summit since, believe it or not, we were about to be eaten alive by the midges at the top of this rather remote Cuillin hill. On our way back to Coire a’Ghrunnda we took a well-deserved rest at the summit of the lesser Sgurr Dubh where Frank took very nice photos and video footage with his drone. Unlike 2007 the weather here was good enough to see most of the Cuillin hills. Perfect.
Now the only task left was to return to Glen Brittle, which we started by descending towards the Bealach Coir an Lochain and from there over Gabbro boulders at first and then over grass and slabs towards Loch Coire a’Ghrunnda. Another break at the loch was called for to both replenish our ‘batteries’ and to again take in the extraordinary views of mountains, corrie and loch. With our spirits uplifted by having finally climbed Sgurr Dubh Mor, a hill that we had not managed to summit ten years before, the return to the camping ground in Glen Brittle was easy as pie although I have to admit that I was glad to finally leave the rocky scree path behind when we reached the foot of Sron na Ciche where the well-engineered path through the grassy slopes towards Loch Brittle starts.
When we reached our car more than eight hours after having set off in the morning both Frank and I were quite exhausted. The tour had cost us more energy than we had anticipated but it was energy well spent since due to the good weather we had done more delightful scrambling than would have been strictly necessary to ‘simply’ bag this Munro. This successful day left us with ‘only’ the In Pinn to be climbed, our last Munro on Skye unticked.
Description These two peaks are near the southern end of the Cuillin. Sgurr Dubh Mor is not on the Main Ridge, but a short distance east of it near the top of the famous Dubhs Ridge which rises from the shore of Loch Coruisk for 900 metres to give one of the finest climbs in these mountains. The climb leads to Sgurr Dubh Mor and onwards for a short distance to Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn, which is on the Main Ridge at the head of Coir'a'Ghrunnda. Sgurr nan Eag is about 1 kilometre further south along the Main Ridge.The approach to these two peaks from the Glen Brittle camp site goes up the Coire Lagan path for a short distance then branches right across the moorland to the foot of Coir'a'Ghrunnda. The path goes up this corrie on its west side close under the rocks to reach Loch Coir'a'Ghrunnda. Go round the south side of the loch, climb east up a steep stony path to reach the Main Ridge and go ½ kilometre south along it to Sgurr nan Eag. Go north along the ridge to Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn and traverse east to Sgurr Dubh Mor. Return to Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn and descend to Loch Coir'a'Ghrunnda to rejoin the outward route.