Tuesday 9th July 2013
Weather/Conditions: Blue skies and sun. Inversions across the water and the Cuillin generating cloud on the leeside of the mountains - a recipe for stunning light conditions: the Sgurr Dubh Mor sunset was one of the best of the entire summer.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 14.9km / 1350m / 10h 45m
Accompanying: Neil, Liam and Steve to begin, Neil dropped out before Coire a' Ghrunnda, Liam and I continued to S nan Eag - met Steve on top, then Liam and I did Dubh Mor alone. Three of us walked out together.
It was another day of big blue skies and inversion-like drifting mist. Liam, Neil, Steve and I headed up into Coire a' Ghrunnda in the direction of Sgurr nan Eag. Coire a' Ghrunnda is insanely rocky, enormous slabs and pinnacles everywhere. It's humbling, but the path through it isn't unreasonable. Sgurr nan Eag is one of the easier Cuillin, and we got an amazing ascent with swirling mist and an immense sense of scale across the ocean.
Progress had been slow though, and we got to the top in five hours. So I wouldn't be doing a big day - that would have to wait until another day. Sgurr Dubh Mor was the last Munro, and I had great pleasure in route finding on this one. Despite having been here before, I still took the wrong routes, and finally stitched together the correct route on descent. Sgurr Alasdair was silhouetted by the sun and lifted off the Earth by the inversion-like mists which swirled around the mountains. The helicopter that had buzzed around the Cuillin all day disappeared; Steve, Liam and I hobbled back to the campsite having had a long day out, two Munros down and plenty more to go. I put a curry on and simply went to bed; pretty knacked.
Two Cuillin down, and plenty more to go.
Note, 2019-02-14 - There was a whole extra bit to this story that I didn’t include at the time; hence the brief blog entry. Neil turned back early, well before Coire a' Ghrunnda. Then upon reaching Loch Coire a' Ghrunnda, I looked back to realise I'd lost track of Steve. I went back down the slabs to get a view out the coire, and found no sign of him. I could only assume he'd gone back with Neil, but it was odd because I'd seen him shortly before. Liam and I thought that in the absence of Steve, we might as well continue.
We did Sgurr nan Eag, got to the summit and I think we retraced our steps along the ridge a bit - I forget slightly, but the photos are there. Sitting in the sun having lunch, Steve appeared over the top of the ridge - right in front of us. I was shocked to see him here! From the foot of Coire a’ Ghrunnda, he’d gone off-route and ended up scrambling directly up the side of Sgurr nan Eag. He got into some steep bouldery terrain, and with a combination of loose rock and exposure - he wasn't pleased at the way he'd come up. We back-tracked to the summit of Sgurr nan Eag for Steve to get the top. Afterward, we went down to Loch Coire a' Ghrunnda.
For the sake of schedule, I needed Sgurr Dubh Mor today though I found taking my attention away from Steve difficult. We told Steve to wait by the lochan - Liam and I went away and had the most stunning evening on Sgurr Dubh Mor. The pictures speak for themselves. Liam and I dropped down the far (north) side of the loch to descend, and three of us walked out in the evening. Looking back, had we not bumped into Steve up by the summit, the whole thing could have been even more epic.
Photos: Sgurr nan Eag
Sgurr Dubh na Da Bheinn
Sgurr Dubh Mor
Over S.D.na.Da.Bheinn to Descent
10th July: Rest Day
Despite ambitious plans to finish the south/central Cuillin today, I woke up to a splitting blue sky, feeling good physically, but fried in the head. I've felt like a zombie the past few mornings and it takes the feet ten minutes to wake up every morning. I suspect a lot of back-to-back days have been getting to me.
I was all set to drag myself up the Cuillin again, but Liam, Neil and Steve managed to talk me out of it. I'm very glad to have the day off. In terms of schedule, it's not ideal, so I'm committed to a big day tomorrow. I'm in the Old Inn at Carbost right now (great place), and I've made sure to do my research so that a sweep of the six central Cuillin goes well tomorrow. A rest day now ensures I'll be playing catch-up for a while to come, but a respite was what I've needed. A day without pressure is a unique feeling and the weight of the Munro Round has been bearing down recently.
And yet, despite all of that, I'm loving what I'm doing right now. It's just hard to see it when you're in the middle of it! Steve asked me last night if I'd do it again. And I'd honestly answer, yes. I'm getting close to finishing a sub-100 day Munro Round based from a car, so I might look for a variation on that theme. But I'm enjoying it enough that I wouldn't say no... maybe not for another few years, though!
You will probably also have noticed I've been a bit behind on updating my blog. That's because internet access and time have been so hard to find recently. With all this camping at Loch Quoich and Skye, it's been near enough impossible to get power for charging, let alone internet connection. Yesterday was the first time I've done a Munro Round day without a charged phone. But now I've finally found some Skye wifi and I'm catching up on everything that I've missed in the last week.
In general, all is going well and I'm ready now to get back outside and relax in the sun before another big stint. Tomorrow I'll hit #200 on Sgurr na Banachdich. I'm less than a month from finishing. I've got about a week at Shiel and Affric to get through, and thereafter my parents are up on holiday from the 20th July until the end of the Round.
I'm starting to really feel like there's no good reason not to finish now. I'm on day 70 (bloody hell......) and there's no reason why I can't keep going. In just ten days, my parents are on holiday with me and then everything should be a bit easier with that base to work from.
Anyway, now I'm going back to Glen Brittle to enjoy the sun while it's out. (And promise it won't be a week before the next blog posts!)
Sgurr Dubh na Da Bheinn
Sgurr Dubh Mor
(0.00) 12.10pm Glen Brittle
(2.50) c. 3.00pm Loch Coir a' Ghrunnda
(3.45) 3.55pm Sgurr nan Eag
(4.10) c. 4.20pm Found Steve
(4.55) 5.05pm Sgurr nan Eag again
(5.45) 5.55pm Loch Coir a' Ghrunnda
(6.35) 6.45pm Sgurr Dubh na Da Bheinn
(6.55) 7.05pm Da Bheinn (left)
(7.25) 7.35pm Sgurr Dubh Mor
(7.40) 7.50pm Sgurr Dubh Mor (left)
(8.05) c. 8.15pm Sgurr Dubh na Da Bheinn
(8.35) 8.45pm Loch Coir a' Ghrunnda
(10.45) 10.55pm Glen Brittle