Hill: Gulvain
Date: Friday 29th March 2013
Company: Myself, Pauline and Dawn
Distance: 21.5km, Ascent: 1370m
Time: 9Hrs

On Monday, Pauline posted on Facebook asking if anyone fancied ascending Gulvain on Good Friday. Ron, Dawn and myself confirmed, “Yes”.

I last ascended Gulvain on 2nd April 2005, when I combined the ascent of Gulvain with an ascent of the neighbouring Corbett, Braigh nan Uamhachan. From looking back at my log, from almost exactly eight years previous, there was little/no snow in 2005 and there were lots of pools full of tadpoles. Yesterday, there was still plenty snow and no sign of any tadpoles.

I met Pauline and Dawn at the start of the Right of Way to Strathan just after 09:00 but there was no sign of Ron. Poor Ron had slept in – something to do with having been out on a hot date the night previous .

We were soon on our way walking along the 6km of track leading to the base of Gulvain. We ascended Gulvain via the standard tourist route.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

Group photo at start of walk (photo by Pauline):

Looking towards Gulvain from Gleann Fionn Lighe:

Gulvain from Gleann Fionn Lighe (zoom):

Several kilometres along the track we stopped briefly to chat with two octogenarian gents who were out on one of their routine Friday morning walks. Good on them.

Gulvain from Gleann Fionn Lighe:

The weather and views were outstanding throughout the day – crystal clear air clarity. There were a number of small cumulus clouds sitting above Gulvain. These clouds looked like they had escaped from an episode of the Simpsons.

Gulvain with ‘Simpsons’ clouds:

As we approached Na Socachan, we spotted a number of hinds on the flank of Na h-Uamhachan.

Hinds near Na Socachan (zoom):

Looking back along Gleann Fionn Lighe:

We reached the base of Gulvain approximately ninety minutes after setting off from the car.

Looking back along Gleann Fionn Lighe from start of Gulvain:

While the ascent of Gulvain was fairly steep and relentless, it wasn’t as bad as I remembered it to be. We followed the eroded zig-zagging path up the initial slopes.

Steep lower slopes of Gulvain:

Pauline and Dawn ascending Gulvain:

We reached the first patches of snow at a height of circa 500m. During the next couple of hundred metres of ascent we were able to avoid almost all of the snow patches.

Myself and Pauline ascending the steep slopes of Gulvain (photo by Dawn):

Ascending Gulvain:

As we gained height, the views just got better and better. Ben Nevis looked excellent.

Ben Nevis from Gulvain (zoom):

Braigh nan Uamhachan, Streap and beyond:

Looking back along Gleann Fionn Lighe towards Corbetts South of Glenfinnan:

There was a bit more snow during the final ascent to the 855m top, however, the snow was mostly soft so no need for crampons.

Pauline and Dawn ascending Gulvain:

Approaching the cairn at 855m, summit of Gulvain in distance:

We had a brief stop at the 855m cairn to put on an extra layer as it was a bit chilly. During the ascent of the South Top of Gulvain, I stopped to take several photos.


View South-East:

View South:

View South-West:

Final ascent of the South Top of Gulvain:

We had another short break on reaching the South Top of Gulvain to take some more photographs and to get ice axes out for the ridge to the main summit. The snow was again sufficiently soft so no crampons necessary.

Looking back:

On reaching the South top the views got even better. Instead of getting excellent 180 degree views, we were now getting outstanding 360 degree panoramas.

Gulvain from its South Top:

At the South Top of Gulvain:

The Cuillin on Skye were really clear today as were the Rum Cuillin.

Black Cuillin, Skye (zoom):

We had to watch our footing on the initial steep descent from the South top and on the narrow section just before the final ascent of Gulvain but apart from that the ridge was fairly straight-forward. Having to wade through the soft snow was quite hard work.

Snowy ridge leading to summit of Gulvain:

Snow waves (photo by Dawn):

Looking back towards the South Top:

A wee rest before the final ascent to the summit:

Following the footsteps, below the cornice, to the summit:

Yesterday was one of those days when I just couldn’t stop taking photographs. The weather was such a contrast to the previous Friday, of walking in snow and gusts of wind to 90mph.


Looking towards Ben Nevis and the Mamores:

At the summit, Dawn carved out three wee seats for us with her high axe. I thought this was really nice. Thanks .

Dawn and Pauline at the summit of Gulvain:

Group photo at the summit (photo by Pauline):

While having a break at the summit Pauline trialled some Rocketfuel coffee. Coffee in a can that heats itself up.
CaO + H2O = Ca(OH)2 (exothermic reaction). Thanks to Pauline for the science .

Rocketfuel (photo by Pauline):

Rum Cuillin (zoom):

At the summit we saw four rare mountain hares .

Four rare mountain hares at the summit of Gulvain:

From the summit, the return to the South Top was again quite hard work.

Frozen footsteps back at the South Top (photo by Pauline):

We returned to the car via the same route.

View towards Loch Shiel (photo by Dawn):

Myself and Pauline descending Gulvain (photo by Dawn):

This was my favourite walk of the year thus far. Spectacular views and great company .