Hill: Beinn Bhan and Sgurr an Chaorachain (North Top)
Date: Saturday 2nd August 2014
Company: Myself, Sheena, Ella, Drummond, Bob, Fiona, Colin and Fiona
Distance: 14.5km, Ascent: 1245m
Time: 7Hrs 20Mins

Camping in the North-West Highlands in August, when there isn't the slightest breeze, can be a fairly unpleasant experience. The fortunate Applecross campers were adorned with midge nets, the improvisational Applecross campers had towels wrapped around their heads and the brave/mad (delete as appropriate) Applecross campers "enjoyed" exposing their flesh to the delights of the midge .

Avoiding the North-West Highlands midge:

A plan was hatched on Saturday morning to ascend Beinn Bhan. This original plan was tweaked to also include an ascent of Sgurr a'Chaorachain in a traverse utilising two cars. Eight 'keen' mountaineers set off from Applecross in three cars to the top of the Bealach na Ba where I left my car. We then continued down to Tornapress for a sea-level start ascent of Beinn Bhan.

I last ascended Beinn Bhan and Sgurr a'Chaorachain in April 2009.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

After getting suited and booted we set off walking along a fairly good path towards Loch Gaineamhach. This approach to Beinn Bhan provides excellent views of its many coires.

Start of walk from Tornapress:

The walk in was pleasant; it was nice to walk in good company. Within ten minutes of setting off, we had broken one of the new Moray Mountaineering Club's Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not leave a Beattie unattended" .

Walk-in parallel to the River Kishorn:

During the walk in we could see the scrambling routes up A'Cioch, A'Phoit, etc.

Coires of Beinn Bhan:

Looking across to Maol Chean-dearg and An Ruadh-Stac (zoom):

Colin and Fiona:

We followed the path to its end at the head of Loch Gaineamhach.

Approaching Loch Gaineamhach:

From Loch Gaineamhach, we initially skirted round the head of the loch before undertaking a trackless ascent towards Coire Fhamair.

Ascent from Loch Gaineamhach towards Coire Fhamair:

Approaching Coire Fhamair:

During the ascent I had a pleasant seat on a large rock to allow the rest of the group to catch-up. There were no midge .

Looking back to Loch Gaineamhach:

We then had another short break beside a large erratic.

Large erratic:

Coire Fhamair:

The ascent up the headwall of the coire is fairly steep but is technically just a walk. I ascended this way with Beinn back in 2009.

Looking back during ascent of Coire Fhamair:

During the ascent, I spotted an adult ptarmigan with a single chick. Beside the ptarmigan, Ella also spotted a toad in a hole.

Young ptarmigan:

Ascending Coire Fhamair:

View from Coire Fhamair:

Looking down Coire Fhamair:

On reaching the wide, flat ridge of Beinn Bhan it was quite windy. Myself, Ella and Sheena sought shelter while waiting for the rest of the party. This was the ideal opportunity to soak in the views and take lots of photos. As well as seeing the Isles of Eigg, Rum, Raasay, Rona and Skye we could also see beyond to Lewis, the Shiants, Harris and to the Uists. It was great timing to reach the ridge when we did as circa twenty minutes later the views were lost in cloud.

Trotternish beyond Rona (zoom):

Macleod's Tables (zoom):

Isle of Eigg (zoom):

Isle of Rum beyond Skye (zoom):

Panoramic view from Beinn Bhan ridge:

On starting to cool down, I set off walking to re-gain some warmth. During the walk towards the summit, I met three walkers one of whom recognised me from my internet reports. If you are reading this, Hi Alan .

Looking back to the top of Coire Fhamair:

On reaching the summit, I had a good drink and a bite to eat. We met another group at the summit and obliged group photos of each other.

Group photo at the summit of Beinn Bhan:

During the descent from the summit, the cloud came down and it started to rain. This gave us considerable concern for our friends who were climbing the Cioch Nose. However there was no need for worry as they managed to continue up the route successfully despite the rain.

I took several photos at full zoom, hoping to see our friends on the route on looking at the photos back home. Despite taking the photos from >2km away, I was able to just make out the climbers .

Sgurr a'Chaorachain and Cioch Nose:

Cioch Nose (zoom):

Cioch Nose (zoom):

MMC climbers on Cioch Nose (zoom):

The ridge between Beinn Bhan and Sgurr a'Chaorachain was excellent but really rough-going.

On the ridge from Beinn Bhan to Sgurr a'Chaorachain:

During the traverse of the ridge I had to put away my camera as it was raining heavily. The next few photos are fairly poor as they were taken with my phone through a waterproof case.

Looking back at the descent from Beinn Bhan:

Cioch Nose:

We broke into two groups during the traverse of the ridge, re-joining at the North Top of Sgurr a'Chaorachain.

Ascent of Sgurr a'Chaorachain North Top from unnamed lochan:

Looking back during ascent of Sgurr a'Chaorachain North Top:

Looking back at ridge linking Beinn Bhan and Sgurr a'Chaorachain:

Ascending Sgurr a'Chaorachain North Top:

By the time we reached the North Top of Sgurr a'Chaorachain we were all keen just to get back down to the car. The weather was grim and we had just undertaken a fairly gruelling ridge. We abandoned the original plan to also ascend Sgurr a'Chaorachain.

Looking towards Sgurr a'Chaorachain from Sgurr a'Chaorachain North Top:

On reaching my car, at the top of the Bealach na Ba, I drove the other two drivers back down to Tornapress to collect their cars. We then all returned to the campsite and onto the Applecross Inn for an excellent meal.

A good day out despite the weather deteriorating in the afternoon.