Date: Saturday 14th February 2015
The only good weather forecast for the weekend was the NW Highlands – who were we to argue?
Fancied a return to Kinloch Hourn – rather horrifying to realise that it’s just over 5 years since we’ve been out to KH despite some of our favourite hills being out there.
A drive out on a foggy, frosty road had us parked up at Coireshubh and walking just after dawn. We were at the edge of a streamer of cold fog – looking west to clear hills.
While on other hills in the area we’ve looked at the south-west ridge of Sgurr a Mhaoraich as a potential ascent route. A stalkers path is marked on the 1:50000 OS as heading up Sgurr a Mhaoraich Beag, but we fancied an ascent on the south side of the cleft of Allt Ban to the wee nubbin Meall an Uilt Bain to start.
A track runs from Coireshubh round into Coire Sgoireadaill to start.
The track gives nice views of Loch Hourn.
We headed uphill from NG 960 065. The first 150m of ascent were on thicker grass, which with frost, was a bit irritating, but soon done.
Easily distracted by the great views of towering sunlit hills.
The inversion to our east was flowing downhill towards Kinloch Hourn and dissipating as it dropped – a bit like a high speed glacier I suppose.
Took a few moments to remember the hills on view – Druim Fada and Beinn Sgritheall along Loch Hourn.
The sun started to light the top of the flow of cloud down at Coireshubh.
Sgurr nan Eugallt was across the glen – spent some time looking for the stalkers path we’d ascended in the dark in December 2009 – our last visit to the area.
At NG 965 061 there’s a wee crag band easily turned to the right (SW) side.
From there a nice grassy ridge, easy to walk.
Once up to Meall an Uilt Bhain we had a bite to eat, unslung the ice axes and stuck on the microspikes. A wee glissade off the Meall before starting up the slopes of Sgurr a Mhaoraich Beag.
A bit worried by the soft snow as we started up the slope – much postholing and cursing. Happily, after 50m ascent it became hard, smooth packed snow and easy to walk up.
Headed NW to pick up the SW shoulder of Sgurr a Mhaoraich Beag – with the best views of Loch Hourn (saw a picture of this view on Facebook recently which probably moved this walk to the top of the queue).
From Sgurr a Mhaoraich Beag the view NE is a jumble of white hills. Nice to see, but topped every time by a sea view.
Headed on for the munro summit.
A short walk to the summit saw a view of the inversion to the east – rather dramatic.
We’d got to the top just in time as mist was starting to form on the top. Decided to drop down to Sgurr a Mhaoraich Beag for lunch. We had, in the spirit of optimism, wondered about looping Sgurr Tionaill and Buidhe Bheinn but fitness is a thing of the past.
Sat for 40 minutes having lunch – a bit of a chilly breeze. Decided to try descending the SW ridge to find the stalkers path (we’d seen it rose well above the current OS map course while ascending).
By the time we got going the hill cap was down to our level. A bit of descent saw os under it but with higher cloud marching in from the east.
Dropped down on steep but easy slopes to about 600m – still in the sun with good views.
There is a fairly steep crag band at NG 966 065 – we spotted the stalkers path heading up from here (having missed it coming down).
It took a bit of assessment to find the best route down here – a small transvers ramp heading WSW. It took us right on to the old stalkers path so presumably it’s part of the old route.
From there an easy descent on the old path – it’s returning to nature but is pretty usable.
The clouds were continuing W, although Sgritheall remained aloof.
Cracking weather – well worth the longer than average weekend trip. Hopefully will revisit this ascent as part of a bigger loop as part of a camping trip sometime soon (i.e. less than 5 years).