Tuesday, 15 October 2019


Mark enjoying sunshine on An Teallach
We have long been due a nice spell of clear, calm conditions. This weekend we got it! Mark had booked a day on An Teallach with me for the Saturday. The NW Highlands were probably the only place in the country that was plagued by cloud and showers on his booked day out with me. Tarmachan Mountaineering are always flexible around choosing the best weather day. Mark was too. So we swapped the traverse of An Teallach to the Sunday. A glorious weather forecast so everything looked promising.

Beinn Dearg Mor from the ridge
Fine conditions for walking
Mark had already been on An Teallach, indeed he has completed all the Munro summits. His return to the finest mountain in the UK was to 'bag' the Munro 'tops'. There are almost has many of these as there are the main Munro mountain peaks. So, unfinished business on the many tops of An Teallach along the numerous spurs and ridges that this fine mountain boasts. All of them are walkable with only one that required scrambling. If you take some devious lines you can minimise this and find an easy way to the tops, requiring hardly any hands on rock.
The traverse under the pinnacles of Corrag Buidhe
There were quite a few folk going in the opposite direction and taking direct lines across the pinnacles. On Sgurr Fiona we met a group of 14 folk! Don't think I have ever seen An Teallach so busy. There was no wind  and despite the low temperatures we were walking in just light fleece tops. What a joy in mid October and the added bonus of some fine views.
Sgurr Creag an Eich ridge looking back to Sgurr Fiona
After the Sgurr Fiona Mark still had two more outlying tops, Creag an Eich which lies off a ridge to the west and gives fine views out to the coast. We retraced our steps to the bealach then a traverse under Sgurr Fiona, returning onto the main ridge line leading up to Bidean a' Ghlas Thuill. Here you get the classic An Teallach view.
An Teallach profile
Finally our last top of the day, Glas Mheall Liath. Along this ridge you get to look down into one of the impressive easy winter climbs on the mountain, Hayfork Gully and above the abyss, its striking Torridonian sandstone pinnacle. Shortly before the summit there is a dramatic change in the rock, from sandstone to quartzite blocks as you gain the final easy slope up to the top.
The 'pinnacle' above Hayfork Gully

The 'Deargs' in the distance
We descended the steep quartzite blocks into the beautiful Toll an Lochain. This is one of the toughest parts of the entire route. Careful route finding and steady  footwork to reach the floor of the coire some 400m below. It's a slow descent but the stunning and wild scenery at the bottom more than makes up for it. After admiring the views we made our way back onto the easy track leading down to Corrie Hallie, the final 30 minutes in the dark. A good 10.5 hour day on the finest mountain on a fine Autumn day.

On Saturday day Karen and I had a great wee jaunt up on the Cairngorms. There are some great viewpoints and in a quiet part of the Northern Cairngom range, overlooking Strathnethy. It was clear and a stiff breeze.

Above Strath Nethy
Cairngorm plateau and Strath Nethy
This route is probably the finest way to Cairn Gorm. Quiet and away from the skiing paraphernalia of the Coire Cas area.

On Monday I took a wander up into the coire to check out the ptarmigan and mountain hare. It's been a strange summer and early Autumn with very few sightings of ptarmigan. Quite worrying. Hopefully they will be back in their usual flocks soon.
Autumn colours for the hares
On Tuesday morning there was a layer of thin cloud down in Strathspey, glorious sunshine above 300m. A cool breeze in the morning with dramatic cloud layers swirling about from the south. A great day on the Fiacaill Coire Sneachda then over to the rim of Loch A'an. Some fine views and the skies staying clear.
A layer of cloud in the Lairig Ghru

Atmospheric cloud over the Fiacaill
Sunshine taking control
By lunchtime it was beautiful in the warm sunshine and the winds had dropped. I wandered around the top of Hells Lum, Stag Rocks and then a pathless walk circling Cairn Gorm and into Ciste Mheared before heading down Windy Ridge. Didn't see a single ptarmigan again all day. Where are you?
Loch A'an
Fine views
Hells Lum Crag
Stag Rocks
Beinn Mheadoin and Loch A'an

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