The settled weather continued for yet another weekend (couldn’t believe it!) so I decided for another wild camp. Up until I made the decision to camp in Torridon, I hadn’t even considered Beinn Alligin as a location, however I did want to take a photo of the Horns of Alligin and Beinn Dearg from the summit of Sgurr Mor. So Beinn Alligin it was on a whim….
The weather was superb and I set off in blazing sunshine from the car park with my light bag on;) The snow seemed fairly stripped from the mountain but I couldn’t see the route between the two Munro’s so I packed axe and crampons just in case (been caught out before!). This made the pack even lighter (sarcasm…) . Given the size and weight of the pack I decided against The Horns and headed up the Coire nan Laogh route, however there was a fair bit of ascent before reaching the Corrie! Psychologically I was thinking it was an easy dander until the Corrie then a steep pull up. In reality there’s a rather steep walk in to get to the corrie an I STRUGGLED! The sweat was pouring off me and the blazing sun was beating down, I had no energy and seriously considered if I was going to be able to do this! Maybe try for the first Munro and camp there, I thought as I slowly made my way up. The shade in the Coire nan Laogh was welcome and after a drink and a bite eat I started to feel better. A water stop near the top of the Coire made my bag even lighter – I was so delighted at this (sarcasm) but at least I didn’t have to hunt for H20 when I finally got my camp set up…….
A little further and I was soon approaching the first Munro – Tom na Gruagaich. The views were absolutely stupendous. I took an airy perch on the trig and sat with eyes wide open at the splendour of our wee country….we are so lucky!! The Torridonian Mountains to my east and the sea board and Islands at my back- an amazing view point.
The sun was starting to drop towards the Atlantic and the Outer Hebrides so I made the decision to crack on the Sgurr Mor. The small light weight pack made my descent of Tom na Gruagaich a little interesting and care was required but I was soon heading uphill again this time with numerous breaks (just wanted to look at the views – honest – the pack was so light!). A quick gander at The Black Cleft and I was nearly there.
With sunset approaching I didn’t have time to mess around so set straight to getting the tent up then some photos……
After playing with the camera I set about using my new stove (was very nice and efficient) and had a cracking tea. The horizon was red and I sat watching the fishing boat lights twinkle on the Inner Sound and out to The Minch, not a bad way to let my dinner digest!
As you may know I like playing with my camera settings with some photos of the stars so I decided to have a lye down and listen to music waiting for dusk to pass… I was knackered and nearly didn’t get back up to take photos, but I am so glad I did awaken!!!
For years I’ve dreamt of being on a wild camp when the Aurora comes to play, and at the tail end of 2014 I got the northern lights on a wild camp in Glencoe. However pleasing it was , it wasn’t a strong show (only a faint glow visible to the naked eye) and some cloud spoiled the event (plus me having a frozen lens didn’t help with the photos…). With the advent of social media catching the lights has become a little easier and only a few weeks ago I was treated to the best display I have seen above Perth where the lights were dancing and the lights were performing to their full specification – pillars, shafts of light etc etc
In my tent on the top of Beinn Alligin I didn’t have a signal to allow alerts to come through so was unawares until I stepped outside… I saw the glow – it was faint – just as it had been in Glencoe – but it still had me rushing around getting the tripod set up, these shows don’t last long sometimes…… 4 hours later I was still outside standing and gawping…… The faint glow I saw as I emerged from the tent soon brightened and for about an hour the Northern lights were dancing above Gairloch and clearly visible to the naked eye. I was in awe, when I wasn’t trying to capture it on the camera I was just standing and staring… an amazing spectacle …. I wanted to stay up all night but I was exhausted and eventually hit the hay, with the alarm set for getting up before sunrise for some more photos (I wasn’t sure if I had any memory left on the card after the Aurora shots ;)
I slept well, which is unusual for a camp but was soon up brewing the coffee and waiting for the sun to rise . I had thought I may have got an inversion but the cloud hadn’t moved fa enough west. I could see fog to the east… never mind a few weeks later and I was treated to the inversion of inversions on Ben Lui;)
As with the sunset, the sunrise was spectacular….. It rose over Beinn Eighe and filled the glen with shafts of light… To the West the shadow of Ben Alligin was cast across the Inner Sound, pointing out towards Clisham….. More photos and I had to start thinking about heading home, it is a long drive!! After numerous photographs I once again saddled the small light weight pack and made a second ascent of Tom Na Gruagaich….. The blues skies and crystal clear clarity were not helping my progress… every five meters was a photo stop!! The steepness of the descent started to make sense of why I had lacked energy and tiredness the day before!
I eventually made the car and I am glad I had such a light back pack as the memories I collected were a full load! As superb trip to a superb mountain with superb entertainment laid on by Aurora Borealis…
Central Gully I*** Ben Lui 3707ft
High pressure had been sitting over Scotland for the previous week and the weather had been good. It was a bit hit and miss as to the area that got cloud and the areas that didn’t. After a superb weekend in Torridon my legs were still sore a week later! However the chance for a route on the last day of winter injected some energy in to them (it was needed as the weight of the camera equipment was NOT light !!:). Although not as heavy as my pack for going up Beinn Alligin (wild camp - report to follow) the weight and un evnly balanced pack caused me a little concern (but not too much!!).
A decision was made to try Central Gully on Ben Lui and hope clear skies would appear overnight and freeze the snow pack. If it wasn’t then a traverse of Coire Gaothaich would be a suitable alternative (as it was the last time we headed for Central Gully)
Approaching Dalrigh and the signs were good – a clear sky! We headed along Glen Cononish with the iconic view of Lui keeping a spring in our step and soon we were headed uphill following the Allt Coire Ghaothaich…. However cloud had materialised and soon the blue skies had disappeared and we were in the murk…… Up we went and somewhere above there was a change in the light. A little further and we sensed we were reaching the top of the cloud. A little more ascent and we were looking down over a sea of cloud, a magical inversionJ
In Coire Gaothaich we geared up and the sun glasses we stuck on. A base layer and gillet was all that was needed. Up we went on the approach slopes and the clear skies the night before had done their job, a fine snowpack.
Soon we were moving smoothly and steadily up the Gully. A fine climb that increased in steepness towards the top….. Behind me and the inversion cloud was breaking up, however the sight that greeted me as I topped out was spectacular. Hopefully the video does the views justice…..
A fine break for lunch with good company and even better views was well enjoyed. Too soon we had to head and took the ridge down the south of Coire Gaothaich over Stob Garbh.
A superb outing on a fine hill in Alpine condition
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...