North-West Highlands Trip.

I’m just back from three days based at the Sail Mhor Croft Hostel near Dundonnell with the Falkirk Community Trust Winter Mountaineering and Winter Hillwalking Teams.

Descending Sail Liath
Descending Sail Liath

On Friday the Mountaineering Team of John, me, Alastair, Linda, Lorne, Neil and Wilson completed the traverse of An Teallach. This is a long, but very rewarding day. The conditions on the ridge were firm snow, hard ice, well frozen turf and rimed rocks. The ice on the descent from Sgurr Fiona was particularly hard and scoured and required great care.

Climbing up on to Corrag Bhuidhe
Linda and Neil climbing up on to Corrag Bhuidhe

Craig and the Hillwalking Team decided on the Fannichs and climbed Sgurr Breac in high winds and often with poor visibility in driving snow.

On the An Teallach traverse
On the An Teallach traverse

On Saturday the Mountaineers took a gamble on a Grade 1 summer scramble on Sgurr Ruadh. This worked well and we were able to take a number of harder variations on the short buttresses on the North ridge. Some of the team then descended snow from the col beyond the summit, whilst the rest continued on to Sgurr Creag an Eich before returning to and descending the col.

Lorne & Wilson on Sgurr Ruadh
Lorne & Wilson on Sgurr Ruadh

The Hillwalking team attempted Bidean a’Ghlas Thuill, but were turned back by high winds and tricky underfoot conditions just after the col with Sron a’Choire.

Today Neil and I climbed a gully/buttress on the East Face of Sail Mhor before descending via a gully whilst the rest of the group headed up to the summit of Sail Mhor. There’s lots of water in the burns and the best route to Sail Mhor at the moment is up the West side of the very impressive Ardessie waterfalls; this avoids crossing the Allt Airdeasaidh as the old route has been washed out above the falls.

Neil about to descend a gully on the East face of Sail Mhor
Neil about to descend the gully on the East face of Sail Mhor

Strong West, South-West or Sourtherly winds throughout the period. Plenty of precipitation with snow down to about 500m, lots of fresh accumulations of snow in sheltered locations at height with strong scouring of windward slopes. Groupel and at times heavy hail showers today. The freezing level seemed higher than forecast today and was above the summit of Sail Mhor.

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