Stunning light on Ben Starav

Sgor na h-Ulaidh and Beinn Fhionnlaidh, Glen Etive

Before you spend the whole time reading this blog wondering how an earth to pronounce the two mentioned Munros, here you go: Sgor na h-Ulaidh is pronounced ‘skor na hoolya’ and means peak of the treasure and Beinn Fhionnlaidh is pronounced ‘byn yoonly’ and means Finlay’s peak.  And it’s these two Munros that Johnny and I, working for Steve Fallon, guided a strong group of ten around yesterday.

Following a rather wild and wet week, with some quite mild temperatures, things took a distinct turn on Friday evening, with a drop in temperatures, and with it, the promise of fresh snow, possibly down to valley level.  Fortunately for us, the snow was nowhere near as heavy as some forecasts predicted, allowing us to drive safely down the often untreated road in Glen Etive, and set off at 8am on Saturday morning.  What snow had fallen, had been brought in on fresh NNE winds, therefore transporting much of it onto southerly aspects, which was quite apparent when making an ascent of the south eastern flank of Sgor na h-Ulaidh.  A thin layer of windslab was starting to form in hollows, but without a base, was of very little concern. As ever, it’s interesting to see it forming.

The group made steady progress up the steep SE flank and ridge, and we were soon enjoying the summit of Sgor na h-Ulaidh, with little wind, and great visibility over towards the Aonach Eagach and Ben Nevis to the north, to Beinn Cruachan to the south and over to Mull out west.  From here, a long descent down to nearly 400m, brought us to the foot of Beinn Fhoinnlaidh.  We ascended the mountain’s west flank, again, up steep slopes, to gain a short but interesting summit ridge, which led us, via a couple of tricky steps to the summit.  As it was 3pm, and therefore with limited daylight left, we chose not to hang about, and managed to negotiate all the steep ground to the SW, before having to don headtorches and make our way over easier ground back to the cars.  All in all, it was a big yet rewarding day for the group, taking in 2 Munros, 17km and 1600m of ascent with less than perfect underfoot conditions.

Winter climbing wise, things are improving, but reports suggest that Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glencoe may not be quite there yet.  A mild and wet start to this coming week, but again, next weekend looks promising.

Here’s a very short film that I quickly put together, it’s amazing what you can do on a phone!

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