SCOTLAND360° BLOG POST -A WINTER DAY IN KINTAIL

16th March 2008

Friday evening and time to make plans for the hills for the weekend. We agreed that Sunday was to be the day, with Mick suggesting the Sgurr nan Conbhairean ridge in Kintail, but from the Glen Affric side. This sounded a good winter day out, taking in three tops and two summits and on a route that was a little different from the norm. Our start point, for the steep pull up onto the main ridge, was some two km south west of Athnamulloch. 500m of climb up from the forest track gained us the ridge and allowed us a view of our intentions for the day. An easy walk along the first, meandering section of the ridge took us to 900m.


The weather was showing signs of clearing, and whilst not as good as had been forecast, the cloudbase was gradually lifting. A’ Chioch to our right, and below us the route back along the glen to our start point.

Higher up again and the views beginning to open in front of us are our day started to take shape. With the increase in height, the snow conditions improved and we began to make better progress.

Descending from Tigh Mor na Seilge, we began to gain an impression of the volume of snow in some of the corries below us and to appreciate the size of the cornices.

The views continued to open out to the west and to the south.

As the ridge unfolded, we gradually began to see further ahead until our main summit for the day lay ahead of us. The weather, by this time had improved significantly, although looking behind us, this was almost certain to change for the worse in a fairly short space of time.

Closer to the edge, wind erosion had sculpted the snow leaving the raised footsteps of someone descending from the summit some days previously. These sharp, irregular grooves or ridges formed on the surface of the snow are known as Sastrugi and formed by wind erosion.

Our final push to the top of Sgurr nan Conbhairean was accompanied by bright sunshine and blue skies.

Looking back, and before the weather closed in on us, the clarity and sharpness of the light picked out the detail in the cornices along the ridge.

Time to grab a bite to eat and admire the view before the weather started to close in on us. The long distance views to the south and west were tremendous, but behind us was getting cloudier and looking wetter.

As we descended the main summit, heading towards Drochaid an Tuill Easaich, so the cloud base began to lower and settle onto the main ridge. Taking the westward running ridge from this top, we made our way to the bealach above Gleann na Ciche. The snow was much softer here and crampons were beginning to become uncomfortable. Removing these, we set off downwards into the glen. A couple of bum slides later and after a stop for some food and drink, we were into the glen and making our way back to our start point.