Welcome to David SeòrasDavid writes a great blog called Luachmhor and describes himself as a photographer, photography teacher, lover of the great outdoors, esp. backpacking, wild camping and the ascent of the more obscure hills. Hope you take the time to visit his excellent blog and read more of his adventures.
Unlike the Munros, the option of climbing more than 1-2 Grahams in a day is pretty limited, and so for quite some time now, I have waited for the perfect couple of days to climb these 3 Coigach Grahams - Beinn an Eoin, Sgurr an Fhidhleir and Ben Mor Coigach. The weather was perfect last week and I was going to savour this trip with a planned bivy on the ridge of Ben More Coigach.
I parked up around 3 km in from the main A835 road, on the single track road to Achiltiebuie. As it was so early yet, and as the weather was shaping up to be the best we have had all year, I took a snap decision to ascend the corbett of Cul Beag as well. From the roadside, it is a very quick, very steep ascent to the summit, which takes little more than an hour.
Looking back south west now, I can see my 3 Grahams
Stac Pollaidh looks fabulous from this vantage point
Dropping back to, and then across the road, I proceeded almost in a straight line heading for the ridge of Beinn Tarsuinn. This was pretty tough going, and I was up to my knee in a couple of spots traversing across this bog. Gaining the top, I then had a bit of descent across more wet ground to enable me to arrive at the foot of the Eastern end of BMC. A delightful climb up to this top of Speicein Coinnich and the 2.5km ridge now stretched before me. Very easy going now, and I took my time walking this ridge, enjoying it to its full in this late afternoon sun. This must be one of the more popular Grahams as there was actually a path to follow now.
BMC appears as an impressive, near 3km long, sandstone wall from the A835 at Ardmair, but it is only from the top that you can truly appreciate the splendour of the sandstone rock formations which make up this, at times, narrow ridge. The path traverses across the very top of these rocks and provides excellent scrambling, although there is a bypass path on the northern side for the faint of heart.
I had reached the western end of the ridge now, and set about unpacking, getting the stove on, and finally getting to take more photos. The sun had been more or less directly overhead or in front of me all day since Cul Beag, which doesnt favour photography very well. A very light sea breeze was keeping the midges at bay, thankfully.
kitchen with a view
quite a few of these moths at the summit
It was only about 7pm, and with sunset not due until just after 10pm, I got into my bivvy and dozed for a bit. I had been working all night last night finishing up at about 5am and was now starting to feel the tiredness. It had been a long hot day, and I fell asleep instantly, neglecting to set an alarm. Fortunately I awoke just as the sun was about to dip below the horizon. I was instantly awake and up, grabbing the camera and composing images and making memories. This was even better than I had envisaged.
At this time of year and at this latitiude, the sun never dips too low below the horizon, and back in my bivvy bag I watched the deep orange glow slowly move several degrees across the sky, dimming only slightly over the next couple of hours, before becoming more vibrant again. It was a comfortable night, despite not taking a sleeping bag. I relied on my Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme, a silk liner and PHD minimus down jacket inside the bivy bag, and I was quite cozy.
I was hoping to be on my second Graham - Sgurr an Fhidhleir - by sunrise, so by my reckoning, a little under 3km should take me about 2 hours, taking my time on the ridge in the twilight. I was on my way shortly after 3am, but was becoming increasingly slowed down by the photographic opportunities which were now throwing themselves at me.
A long exposure shows of the blue hour with flash lighting up the foreground of these rock formations
The moon and Jupiter balance out the sky over this rock formation as a cloud inversion covers the hills to the east
Looking back to the ridge from the summit
There was now a little over half an hour to sunrise as I descended BMC steeply towards the bealach between the 2 Grahams before ascending SNF. I made it to the top with about 5 minutes to spare.
Cloud lapping at the base of Suilven
This was a time to savour. Having walked the hills of this country for 18 years, I dont think I have had any better experience of the outdoors.
Unfortunately, I had to leave. There was still one Graham left to tackle and this involved a very very steep descent from SNF towards Lochan Tuath. I know someone that has done this descent before and was aware that it could be tricky, but it turned out to be not quite as bad as I feared.
There were a lot of frogs on the descent
A track is picked up on the southern side of Lochan Tuath and I follow it around to the deer fence, before leaving it to ascend Beinn an Eoin. This summit is gained in no time and provides a good viewpoint for BMC and SNF. The descent off SNF can be seen following the water course/gully just to the left of SNF and heading towards the centre of the image.
From here I had one more ascent I wished to make, that of Sgorr Tuath, a top of BAE about a km away and offering a good view of Stac Pollaidh. At the bealach between the 2 tops, I stopped to fill up with water and spotted a newt winning a battle with a moth which was stuck in the water.
Once on top of Sgorr Tuath, more sandstone pillars offered opportunities for posing.
All that remained now was to head back to the van. 3.5km of torturous steep slopes and deep bog on aching legs. But what a trip. This one will live long in the memory.
weight carried 4068g
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