Garbh Chìoch Mhòr - 1013m
Garbh Chìoch Bheag - 968m
Sgùrr nan Coireachan - 953m
Friday 28th December 2018
Weather/Conditions: Amazing day - not winter conditions, still. Sun and shifting cloud on Sgurr na Ciche and clear along the ridge to a starry twilight on Sgurr nan Coireachan
Distance/Ascent/Time: 19.5km / 1500m / 8h 15m
Accompanying: James and Andi
After leaving the landrover track, the path makes a quick exit up and out of the forest. It then joins the older Arkaig to Inverie path and traversed beneath our day’s hills. This is a glen I've made a few visits to: I came rock climbing into the pass toward Sourlies in 2017, and earlier in 2018 I was working on the Sgurr na Ciche trio. The area is starting to feel somewhat familiar!
Sunny conditions prevailed on the walk through the glen, but things clouded over a little on the climb up to Sgurr na Ciche. This mountain and Garbh Chioch Mhor are split by a deep gully, Feadan na Ciche - literally the chanter of the breasts. The breasts are of course the twin Munros (and became 'Madonnas Tits' to the folk on Sleat - not hard to see why either) but referring to the bealachs as the Feadan? Not sure why. Maybe it refers to the wind, or something or other...
We traversed into the notch and climbed through the gully. Sgurr na Ciche has such interest on ascent it is easy to forget that you're packing in all the ascent. Rock walls gave way to an open upper gully. We left bags by the wall on the saddle, and went packless to the top of Sgurr na Ciche.
And what a place to find ourselves. How lucky to have the sun out, stray wisps of cloud blasting by, and long views down to Loch Nevis, Loch Cuaich and Knoydart... Incredible just to be on this hill, and at the end of December and find it easy... To be in this place where you could traverse a few mountain ranges in any direction and not hit a road. I think we were all glad to be here. I hope Andi knew how lucky he was...!
We went thereafter to Garbh Chioch Mhor and began picking our way along the high rocky spine. I wasn't in any rush because it was beyond doubt we'd be out after dark. Conditions were settled too, but it was when we were beyond the Garbh Chioch ridge that things really got stunning. Bags were dropped at the saddle beneath Sgurr nan Coireachan, at Bealach Coire nan Gall. Head torches on, we climbed the couple hundred metres to our last summit in a hushed silence. The sun was abating, the daylight leaving by the minute. In its place, stars winked into existence and filled the sky. We said nothing. Not that anything needed said. Each of us disappeared into our own footsteps, our own minds as well against the great wide world around us. The cairn arrived in time to break the spell. It was worth staying out late for.
Regaining the bags, we disappeared down the course of Allt a' Bhealaich, the stream that would drop us straight on top of our bikes again. We had good chat on the way down; tales of foreign holidays, thoughts, ideas - chat with James is always quality, and quite often deep. I've enjoyed all our recent trips a great deal.
Back in the forest, we hopped on the bikes and legged it back to the bothy where Kev had already got the fire going: another night here: more music, more good food, and laughter.
(0.00) 10.55am A' Chuil
(3.08) 2.03pm Sgurr na Ciche
(4.07) 3.02pm Garbh Chioch Mhor
(4.35) 3.30pm Garbh Chioch Bheag
(5.56) 4.51pm Sgurr nan Coireachan
(8.15) 7.10pm A' Chuil