Sgurr Dearg – The InPin

In 2007 Frank and I had been acting under the delusion of being able to summit the Inaccessible Pinnacle on our own when we had first visited the Sgurr Dearg summit area. But we soon had realized that climbing the Pinnacle without professional help would be foolhardy to say the least. So on 7 June 2017 we met our friendly guide Ian at the Glen Brittle Memorial Hut (why is it called ‘Memorial’ Hut?). Ian handed us our climbing gear (harness and helmet) and soon we were on our way on the path that leads up towards the Eas Mor and the west ridge of Sgurr Dearg.

After a short test of our stamina and fitness on behalf of Ian, who stormed up the path like a torpedo, we settled into a more leisurely speed suited to our limited energies and lower lung capacities. Anyhow, we made good progress on the excellent path and soon left the grass behind. The lower part of the ridge between Coire na Banachdich and Coire Laggan is quite steep and in the middle of the ascent a chimney of sorts catered for some very mild scrambling in order to avoid an alternative path in the unpleasantly steep scree slope. Soon we topped out on a slightly flatter section of the ridge and continued on the obvious path towards Sgurr Dearg. Ian pointed out the highest source of fresh water in the Cuillins, a little spring where cold water was merrily dripping from one of the rocks. Delicious. The views into the corries below and out towards the sea were stupendous! Only the summits hid in the clouds on this otherwise sunny day.

Then we were getting close to the rocky upper section of Sgurr Dearg’s ante summit(s). Due to the traffic on the ridge and the possibility of someone above […]

2017-09-19T14:14:55+00:00June 9th, 2017|2007, 2017, 2017 - 2010, The Islands|

Sgurr Dubh Mor

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 […]

2017-09-19T14:14:56+00:00June 8th, 2017|2017, 2017 - 2010, The Islands|

Bruach na Frithe

After our delightful excursion to Knoydart, Inverie and Meall Buidhe we took the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale and arrived at the Sligachan Hotel around midday. We were definitely not the only people there :-). But soon we left the hustle and bustle of the hotel’s surroundings and the road intersection behind us and climbed the path beside the Allt Dearg Beag.

The going was easy, the path was obvious and the weather was okay with only one stiff shower accompanying our progress. After three kilometres we reached the steep and rocky hillside that blocks easy entrance into Corrie a’Basteir and forms the left side of the Basteir Gorge (orographically, that is). Frank and I followed the more or less obvious path first through scree and then over some ledges in the rocks. Soon the path passed above the Basteir Gorge and took us into beautiful Corrie a’Basteir. We paused for ten minutes in the corrie and took in the views of Pinnacle Ridge, Am Basteir and the Basteir Tooth. A great place to be in the sunshine which we were lucky enough to have on this Saturday afternoon.

You can never get enough of such views but we finally tore ourselves away from them and embarked on the steep climb towards Bealach a’Basteir which we reached just as heavy rain set in. Rats! I was a little slower than Frank so that when I reached the Bad Step in the ridge of Am Basteir Frank was already coming back and I decided that I would not continue to the summit in view of the very slippery surface of the basalt rocks.

Instead we returned to Bealach a’Basteir, contoured around the foot of Am Basteir, gained Bealach na Lice and continued to Bruach na Frithe which Frank climbed in thick clouds while I waited for him on […]

2017-09-19T14:14:56+00:00June 3rd, 2017|2000, 2017, 2017 - 2010, The Islands|

Am Basteir

After our delightful excursion to Knoydart, Inverie and Meall Buidhe we took the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale and arrived at the Sligachan Hotel around midday. We were definitely not the only people there :-). But soon we left the hustle and bustle of the hotel’s surroundings and the road intersection behind us and climbed the path beside the Allt Dearg Beag.

The going was easy, the path was obvious and the weather was okay with only one stiff shower accompanying our progress. After three kilometres we reached the steep and rocky hillside that blocks easy entrance into Corrie a’Basteir and forms the left side of the Basteir Gorge (orographically, that is). Frank and I followed the more or less obvious path first through scree and then over some ledges in the rocks. Soon the path passed above the Basteir Gorge and took us into beautiful Corrie a’Basteir. We paused for ten minutes in the corrie and took in the views of Pinnacle Ridge, Am Basteir and the Basteir Tooth. A great place to be in the sunshine which we were lucky enough to have on this Saturday afternoon.

You can never get enough of such views but we finally tore ourselves away from them and embarked on the steep climb towards Bealach a’Basteir which we reached just as heavy rain set in. Rats! I was a little slower than Frank so that when I reached the Bad Step in the ridge of Am Basteir Frank was already coming back and I decided that I would not continue to the summit in view of the very slippery surface of the basalt rocks.

Instead we returned to Bealach a’Basteir, contoured around the foot of Am Basteir, gained Bealach na Lice and continued to Bruach na Frithe which Frank climbed in thick clouds while I waited for him on […]

2017-09-19T14:14:56+00:00June 3rd, 2017|2000, 2017, 2017 - 2010, The Islands|

Bla Bheinn (Blaven)

The best day, at least weather-wise, was also the last day of the 2016 holiday in Scotland. After five days of fog, two days of wind and rain and one further beautiful day this hike was the saving grace of an otherwise rather viewless bagging season.

Knowing the weather would be very good we had decided to climb Blaven via its south ridge since this would afford us marvellous views of the Black Cuillins on the way up. Like quite a few other walkers we started the hike from the parking south of Kilmarie where a Landrover track crosses the Strathaird peninsula. The track undulates a bit but then rises to its highest point (Am Mam) and drops again on its way towards Camasunary. Shortly before the next sharp bend in the track a path leads off towards the foot of the south ridge of Blaven. In due time this path crosses a small burn. A few metres past the burn the path leading up the steep grass slopes of the mountain’s south ridge branches off at an altitude of approximately 100m.

We climbed this very steep slope on the good path which further up outflanks the first bands of rock to the right before it leads up a steep gully filled with scree. Then at about 380m the path suddenly reaches the crest of the ridge and the complete Black Cuillin ridge springs into view. I took a break there and enjoyed the views which really were to die for.

From this spot onwards there is not much grass left underfoot as slabs of rock, small boulders and scree form the ground your boots tread on. The way forward was marked by cairns though and route-finding was not a problem. Over several steps in the ridge – which gave opportunity for some mild scrambling – the […]

2017-09-19T14:14:57+00:00June 18th, 2016|2016, 2017 - 2010, The Islands|

Ben More

The last day in Alba in May 2012 saw us climbing the only Island Munro outside Skye: Ben More on Mull.

We definitely did not want to save this hill as the last one in our first round of Munros. First, it simply did not feel right to us to do it like so many others. Second, we have neither unfit members of family nor unfit friends to accompany us to the summit of the last one so we need not pick an easy mountain for the final tour. Third, we wanted to see Mull this beautiful island in 2012 and not in 2016.

With these principal deliberations accomplished well before we left for Scotland in 2012 we had sailed to from Oban to Craignure the evening before, had spent a nice Friday evening and a relaxing night at the Craignure Inn and then had set out on the road trip to Loch na Keal. At Dhiseag we parked our car on the grass facing the sea. This being a Saturday morning we were in the company of MANY other hillwalkers: Children, men, women, grandads, grandmas, families.

We chose the easiest approach, the north-west ridge. Beside the Abhainn Dhiseig we climbed first on its right bank than beside the left bank. The going was easy on grass of only moderate steepness. Higher up the slope got steeper and considerably more rocky. It got colder, too. The wind was strong. The last 150-200 metres below the summit take the form of a skyline highway: A very broad and gritty path up the ridge. Very comfortable and good to keep up a steady walking rhythm. The summit ridge is flat and a few hundred metres long. There is a wide round stone wall on the summit which offers some protection from the wind. The views from the summit are […]

2017-09-19T14:16:13+00:00May 5th, 2012|2012, 2017 - 2010, The Islands|

Sgurr Mhic Choinnich

On a dry day in May 2007 the two valiant hill-walkers set out to climb the Inaccessible Pinnacle and Sgurr Mhic Choinnich in one outing. Alas, it was not to be (in its entirety, d’you see?). But let’s start at the beginning. From Glen Brittle House we climbed the path leading to the Eas Mor and once past the waterfall we branched right in the direction of Loch an Fhir-bhallaich.

Half-way to the loch another path branches off to the left and approaches the steep west ridge of Sgurr Dearg. Gaining height quite quickly the view soon opened up and Corrie na Bachachdich impressed with its great scenery. At about 750 m the clouds finally won and we climbed up the final steep, slabby and stoney steps of the ridge before reaching the summit of Sgurr Dearg. There the Inaccessible Pinnacle finally became visible through the clouds. Nice piece of rock. We slithered to the basis of the pinnacle and checked the start of the climb. Other groups of climbers made their way up the Inaccessible Pinnacle while we watched. Finally we started our climb – without using the rope.

We soon realised that the climb was not really difficult but quite exposed. And since we had not really expected the need for using the rope for other purposes than abseiling we decided to be wise and go back and to leave the In Pinn for another day. I explored the summit of An Stac before Frank and I contoured around its basis on the scree-strewn slanting path leading to the broadish (by Skye standards at least) Beallach Corrie Laggan. About here the visibility improved dramatically and the views were stupendous later. From the beallach we followed the trace of a path that leads up to Sgurr Mhic Choinnich. This part of our hike […]

2017-09-19T14:17:50+00:00May 25th, 2007|2007, 2009 - 2000, The Islands|

Sgurr Alasdair

The climb up this hill proved to be a test of endurance under conditions of bad visibility, wind and rain. Let’s begin at the start, though. We set off one morning from Glen Brittle House and headed across the moor on the path that rises more or less gently towards Corrie Laggan. Once past the Eas Mor we reached the base of the clouds and were soon engulfed by the white and increasingly moist stuff. The path climbed steadily past Loch an Fhir-bhallaich, levelled off a bit and then we met the path coming up from the Glen Brittle Campsite.

We continued uphill, climbed up some scree-covered rock slabs and arrived at Loch Coire Laggan soon. Once at the outflow of the Loch we stuck to the south shore until we reached the point were the Great Stone Shoot ends among boulders. Due to the bad visibiity we were not 100% sure at first that we climbed the right scree slope but further up it became obvious that many other climbers had suffered on this ascent before. For suffer we did, too, since it was more or less a matter of two steps forward and one and a half backwards again. The scree was very steep, unstable and climbing it was extremely exhausting. But then we reached the part of the shoot were the walls of Sgurr Alasdair and Sgurr Thearlaich move togehter closer and the gap between the two summit was becoming visible further up. The wind picked up once we got close to the beallach. We sat in a sheltered spot and rested for a few moments. Then we tackled the final 30 or 40 metres of the summit ridge which was quite slippery under these wet and windy conditions. On the way up we met a group of Englishmen we already […]

2017-09-19T14:17:50+00:00May 23rd, 2007|2007, 2009 - 2000, The Islands|

Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh

The first day of hiking on Skye in 2007 saw Frank and me tackling the three Munros of Corrie a’Ghreadaidh. From the Youth Hostel in Glen Brittle we walked up the path into the corrie, just as Mike and me had done four and a half years earlier (life’s ticking away, pal).

After a mile or so we located the junction with the return path coming out of Corrie an Eich. We continued on the main path, however, later crossed the Allt a’ Choire Ghreadaidh and climbed into the upper corrie. From the flat section of this magnificent arena we watched a group of hikers tackling the northwest ridge of Sgurr a’Mhadaidh – certainly an entertainig scramble. For us, however, it was up the stone shoot and rocky terrain to the An Dorus col. From the col we climbed up to the summit of Sgurr a’Mhadaidh in five minutes. Instead of enjoying the views we put on our protective plastic as it started to rain. Sleat was beating down on us. Luckily this was only a short shower.

The clouds and fog stayed with us for the rest of the day, though. Blimey! So it was back to an Dorus – the last few metres being quite slippery after the shower. Then we climbed the entertaining north ridge of Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh, passed the deep cleft and The Wart and touched the summit cairn(-let) of our second Munro of the day. No views but also no wind. You have to be content with what The Cuillins give you :-). The continuation along the southwest ridge was an exceptionally interesting climb – at least for hikers like us. Constant handwork, some minor difficulties and loads of fun. Then the ridge widened, the fun was over and we soon we passed the three teeth of Sgurr Thormaid […]

2018-11-13T02:45:53+00:00May 20th, 2007|2007, 2009 - 2000, The Islands|

Sgurr na Banachdich

The first day of hiking on Skye in 2007 saw Frank and me tackling the three Munros of Corrie a’Ghreadaidh. From the Youth Hostel in Glen Brittle we walked up the path into the corrie, just as Mike and me had done four and a half years earlier (life’s ticking away, pal). After a mile or so we located the junction with the return path coming out of Corrie an Eich. We continued on the main path, however, later crossed the Allt a’ Choire Ghreadaidh and climbed into the upper corrie. From the flat section of this magnificent arena we watched a group of hikers tackling the northwest ridge of Sgurr a’Mhadaidh – certainly an entertainig scramble.

For us, however, it was up the stone shoot and rocky terrain to the An Dorus col. From the col we climbed up to the summit of Sgurr a’Mhadaidh in five minutes. Instead of enjoying the views we put on our protective plastic as it started to rain. Sleat was beating down on us. Luckily this was only a short shower. The clouds and fog stayed with us for the rest of the day, though. Blimey! So it was back to an Dorus – the last few metres being quite slippery after the shower. Then we climbed the entertaining north ridge of Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh, passed the deep cleft and The Wart and touched the summit cairn(-let) of our second Munro of the day. No views but also no wind. You have to be content with what The Cuillins give you :-).

The continuation along the southwest ridge was an exceptionally interesting climb – at least for hikers like us. Constant handwork, some minor difficulties and loads of fun. Then the ridge widened, the fun was over and we soon we passed the three teeth of Sgurr Thormaid and climbed […]

2017-09-19T14:17:50+00:00May 20th, 2007|2007, 2009 - 2000, The Islands|