Aonach air Chrith, Druim Shionnach & Creag a' Mhaim
Thursday 4th July 2013
Weather/Conditions: The highest winds of the summer trip - sometimes we were almost immobile on Sgurr an Lochain. Wild and grey in the glen, like November had come back for a day. Skies breaking open a bit laterally and some summit views.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 21.2km / 1850m / 7h 55m
Andy Brown was joining me for a couple of days and my first choice was the South Shiel Ridge. It's a famously easy seven Munros, all linked by a high-level ridge. But when I drove into Glen Shiel, I got a bit of a shock. The weather was just so raw, the clouds thick and dark, wind hammering along from the south-west. The South Shiel ones are 'easy', but they're still seven Munros and it isn't going to be a short day in any case.
And we were going to do seven? The best decision made all day, was to do the route west to east instead of the usual east to west. This meant the wind should be to our backs, and we could be blown along instead of fighting against it.
The start was the hardest part of the day, pulling myself out of a psychological hole, getting wet socks into wet boots and walking out into the weather. The ascent to Creag nan Damh was a drag, but once up, I felt so much better. Weather wasn't nearly as bad as expected, but now we just had to blast along that ridge and get it done.
On Creag nan Damh (#1), conditions didn't seem too bad. On #2, Sgurr an Lochain, they were absolutely horrendous. The mist wasn't down (thankfully), but the wind battered across the ridge. It made us stagger around until we were reduced to sitting, grasping at the ground, waiting for the gusts to let up.
All in all, it was really good fun. I don't like heavy rain much, but high winds have never really freaked me out. It rained heavily as well, but this wasn't really noticed since the winds were so strong. It all just blasted by in one great fuzz of sound and insanity. We got over Sgurr an Doire Leathain, and then Maol Chinn-dearg in easing winds. The summits were going down, I felt good. I've done seven Munros in a day several times, but this was probably the most painless seven-Munro day I've ever done.
Some rocky outcrops took us over Aonach air Chrith, the highest of the lot, until the ground eased off and the terrain petered out to the gentle eastern swells of Druim Shionnach and Creag a' Mhaim. A gentle end to a heavy day.
It was only really when we got off the ridge, though, that the wind finally shut up and a walk down heathery slopes, and then a track, brought us to the Cluanie Inn. I've found the schedule and the prospect of Shiel and Skye quite intense recently. To get seven Munros out of bad weather is certainly a boost and now it feels as if I've just got the 'mopping up' to do in this area.
Thus tomorrows destination is Loch Quoich, to get the isolated remaining Munros; Gleouraich, Spidean Mialach and Gairich.
Aonach air Chrith
Creag a' Mhaim
(0.00) 10.40am Battle site layby
(2.00) 12.40pm Creag na Damh
(3.05) 1.45pm Sgurr an Lochain
(3.33) 2.13pm Sgurr an Doire Leathain
(4.25) 3.05pm Maol Chinn-dearg
(5.10) 3.50pm Aonach air Chrith
(6.55) 4.35pm Druim Shionnach
(6.20) 5.00pm Creag a' Mhaim
(7.55) 6.35pm Cluanie Inn