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Ceilidh tickets on sale now!

  posted by Sam Harrison on 2014-01-24

Tickets for this year's Hiking Club Ceilidh are on sale at foyer now. The cost £8, or £10 on the door, and everyone is welcome, so bring along all your friends!

The event is next Friday 31 January at 7.30pm in the Brandrigg Room of Barker House Farm. Please note the change of venue; we initially had the Minor Hall booked but a lack of communication between LUSU and LICA meant we got told last Tuesday that we weren't able to use the room any more. This is also the reason that ticket sales have been left so late.

Take a look at this video from last year's ceilidh to get you in the mood:


Glenshiel Winter Trip report

  posted by Jim Heath, Richard Thorpe and Sam Harrison on 2014-01-17

It's unbelievable that a week of rain, wind and generally bad weather could be quite as fun as last week's Winter Trip to Glenshiel, but I don't think there was anyone on the trip that didn't have a thoroughly good time. Here are some accounts of the week from Jim, Richard and myself.

Jim: The Forcan Ridge (eventually)

The week had started with good navigation practice in a white out on Sgurr nan Conbhairean, having been less willing than the others to get out of bed early enough to beat the bad weather. Day 2, a very pleasant touristy day around the Applecross peninsula, was made more entertaining by Ben's boot blowing open at 50 mph (and some interesting cornering, not to mention somewhat novel sunroof repairs). Admittedly by the 3rd day, the moist conditions had turned the Falls of Glomach into a sight almost spectacular enough to justify an 8 mile trudge through a swamp in torrential rain. However, by Wednesday, we were impatient for some proper winter mountaineering... the weather, on the other hand, was not. So, after a 500 m slog in the rain revealed a vague view of a black and soggy Forcan Ridge, we decided to run away, over the summit of Biod an Fhithich and along its undulating north ridge, bringing us back to Shiel Bridge via a bog/heather bumslide and another swamp. That only left the problem of how to get back into the house - soon solved by shoving Calum head first through the bathroom window. At least the 1000-piece jigsaw got finished (after some slightly worrying semi-naked antics that ended with an upside-down bed, a sabotaged ice axe, and the construction of a "man trap" in the attic...).

The mighty Falls of Glomach
Day 5! This had to be the day... Repeating the previous day's slog with dry clothes was surprisingly pleasurable, and this time the Forcan Ridge looked well covered in old refrozen snow, with a fresh dusting on frosted-up rocks. For the route itself, the numerous guide books say it all. And in good condition it's a very fun winter scramble, with sufficient length, exposure and slightly tricky bits to give it something of an "Alpine" feel. From the summit of the Saddle, rather than the usual bagging of Sgurr na Sgine, we decided to carry on along the West ridge, which has some more scrambling and sections of narrow-ish snow arete, followed by a long ridge walk northwards with impressive views down into Coire Uaine... some winter climbing potential there? Also finally got some views over towards Knoydart and across to Skye. With plenty of bouldering opportunities on the way and 1600m of ascent it also gives a pretty full day out (though admittedly not as long as some of the nearby bagging options!). Great compensation for a week of wet weather, and well worth waiting for.

Richard: South Shiel ridge

With the forecast looking good and tomorrow looking wet and windy once more, this was looking like our last good chance for a long day out in decent conditions. With one space free in the car I jumped in with Calum, Laura, Matt and Dan to traverse the South Shiel ridge. Laura dropped her car off at Cluanie Inn while Dan and I were dropped off at the car park by Mark. When Mark returned with an empty car to tell us we were at the wrong car park we were slightly confused, as we were definitely at the right one. We headed up the valley to the next car park where the rest where waiting, Calum definite that his was the right one. So off we set, the South Shiel Ridge with the "Ross variation", the path quickly petered out at a deer fence we had to climb, then straight up a steep unrelenting slope, to another deer fence, then more slog till we finally reached the top of Sgurr a' Chuilinn, a lump sticking out on the north side of Creag nan Damh. Hitting snow we put on the crampons and got the axes out to ascend the steep ground to the summit. Reaching the summit we regathered and headed east, towards the distant Cluanie Inn, 1 Munro done, 6 more to go. Skirting around the side of Sgurr Beag to save time the next four Munros came thick and fast, Sgurr an Lochain, Sgurr An Doire Leathain, Maol Chinn-dearg and Aonach air Chrith. The ridge stayed high and narrow, though never technical, with the winds at our backs we made fast progress, Calum estimated one Munro per hour, and the weather stayed fine. Though the occasional cloud would overtake us it was often followed by large clear patches with views forward and back along the ridge, down to Loch Quoich and across to the cloud shrouded Five Sisters. Upon reaching Aonach air Chrith, our highest point of the day at 1021 meters we could see the remainder of our route laid out before us. Cluanie Inn just poke out past a shoulder, invitingly close, but we still had two more peaks to bag, Druim Shionnach across a broad, almost plateau like ridge and just beyond it the lower Creag a' Mhaim, the connecting ridge hidden to us. With light beginning to fade we set off, climbing almost unnoticeably to the summit of Druim Shionnach and eager to reach the end of the ridge before dark, we took a bearing and set off to Creag a' Mhaim. We were almost immediately surprised to find that the ridge narrowed to a rocky arete, far more exposed than the rest had been, made more precarious by the cornice that had built up on the northern side, masking the true edge. We picked a careful route between cornice and the steep rocky slopes to the south, enjoying the unexpected excitement and thankful we hadn't come across it in the dark. The final Munro of the day was climbed in twilight, the sun had faded and the moon shone brightly just above the summit, there was no sound but our footsteps and the wind as we reached the cairn atop Creag a' Mhaim. After a brief stop Calum and I took a bearing down the South east nose to pick up a stalkers path. As we left the summit the weather finally broke and it began to rain. Picking up the path as the last of the light left us, we followed its zig zags down the mountain. Leaving behind the last of the snow we took off the crampons and got out the headtorches and while the rain continued to fall we followed the boggy path. Eventually we reached the bottom of the stalkers path and had to face our last challenge, 7km of tarmac track back to the Cluanie Inn, before we could finally collapse into Laura's car, wet and exhausted, but very happy. 7 Munros, 24km, 1800m of ascent in 9 hours 40 minutes. The return journey took 8 minutes by car.

Me (Sam): The Five Sister's of Kintail

Whilst Jim, Ben and Stephen retraced their steps from the previous day up to the start of the Forcan Ridge, and as Richard et al. were enjoying the "Ross Variation", Lorna, Imogen, Darren and myself were tackling the relentlessly steep slope running at an average angle of 35 degress from the A87 to the summit of Sgurr nan Spainteach, the first top on the popular Five Sister's ridge that forms the northern backdrop of Shiel Bridge. The snow was frustrating at best; at first it appeared solid on top, but every couple of steps you'd sink right through to knee-depth (or deeper!). That being said, I do love a good snow slope and I definitely enjoyed the 900m of ascent we polished off in under two hours.

The steep slope up from the A87.
Unsurprisingly, the views were non-existent, except for a few breaks in the cloud here and there. The complexities of the ridge made up for this however; complexities not because of technicality, but rather because of the devious route it took, embracing everything from super-steep snow slopes (usually in descent) to twisting rocky passages. The descent from the third of the three Munros it passes over - Sgurr Fhuaran - was particularly steep and devious, and looking back at the summit from Shiel Bridge on a clear day, you can see why!

Loch Duich and Sgurr an t-Searraich.
Fortunately, the cloud level was high enough so we got a great view out over Loch Duich on the descent, a view which we couldn't help thinking reminded us of the view of the Pap and Loch Leven from Sgurr nam Fiannaidh.
Glenelg on the final day of the trip

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