Bruach na Frithe
Area: Minginish and the Cuillin Hills
Munros: Bruach na Frithe
Time Taken= 5hrs
A planned group walk with a friend on Skye was fast approaching and having a few days free I decided to go to Skye on Thursday 23rd May to camp out for a few days at Sligachan camp site.
So after setting up camp at a respectable £6 per person per night I was ready for a fee beers with Alan and friends in the Sligachan hotel. The weather was abysmal on the journey up with snow down to 500m and raining on Skye when I arrived. The Sligachan hotel is set in a lovely location with the great Northern Cuillin as a superb backdrop, thats of course when the weather is good and the hills are out of the clag, but unfortunately the tops were in the clag on the Thursday evening as I entered the Hotel for a beer.
After a great evening with much talk and a good few beers we parted company and I headed over to the campsite to get my head down. I had a reasonable nights sleep although on the couple of occasions I awoke, it was raining outside. However by daybreak the rain had stopped and I was hoping for clear summits on the Northern Couillin to go for a good walk up to Bruach na Frithe.
I was in no hurry to get walking on the Friday morning. I suppose I was being a little bit lazy but there just seemed to be no need to rush. The summits were in the clag and if that had remained the case then I would most likely not venture up onto the ridge. So at just after 1000hrs I was walking past the Hotel. I packed a few simple foods and a litre of water with some rope/gear and waterproof jacket. There had been a bitingly cold wind the previous day when I had arrived at the camp site and it was still blowing in over Loch Sligachan. Unusually cold for late May and there were reports of snow and ice on the Northern Cuillin.
The route I was planning was the Walkhighlands route, up the road from the Hotel to the track into the Alltdearg House, where there is a small sign indicating the walkers path. The path continues meandering along the Allt Dearg Mor for a couple of kilometres passing some lovely waterfalls and pools along the way. After a while a large cairn comes into view indicating the clear path which now heads into Fionn Choire climbing as it ascends directly South West up to Beallach nan Lice. The path is a little indistinct in places but later comes back into view.
I passed an older couple on the way up and I later met up with a couple of lads heading the same way. They had managed to bag all the Cuillin that week and Bruach na Frithe was there final Cuillin Munro. I quickly passed them and entered the snow line. As I progressed the snow became a bit slippier underfoot. I was wearing summer boots and I did not take an ice axe with me so I was not sure at this point how far I would be able to ascend. I then entered a large snow sheet. I brushed the top surface snow away with my hand and there was an ice sheet below. It was quite steep and after a few steps I realised it would be too dangerous for me to continue and I would not be ascending any further on this route. I was only 30m approximately below the Beallach but sometimes you have to sack it when conditions dictate.
I retraced my steps and soon met up again with the lads. I passed my concerns to them about the conditions. They had B3 boots on so they seemed happy to continue and see how they judged the conditions. They would be able to kcik steps in which I wasn’t so they might be ok. After a short while later I met the older couple. I again explained the conditions to them and informed tham that I was going to travers across the North facing slope of Bruach na Frithe ridge onto the ridge and see what the conditions were like. From the map it looked pretty benign and surveying the ground I could see no potential difficulties. They said they might follow on. I bore that last comment in mind as I crossed the Chorie and headed up at an angle traversing the slope. It was pretty easy realy. The only potential issue was the snow with my slippy boots but the older couple had walking poles and if they were to follow me they would be ok.
After a short while I was up on the ridge. It was now simply a matter of 1km of walking along the undulating ridge and using the bypass paths to get to the summit. The clag had cleared and the views were superb. The two lads were also on the summit. There were amasing views all around and there were also some horizontal icicles on the rocks. Amazing this late in the year.
After a short time at the summit I headed back down the ridge. I didn’t notice any cairn indicating a route back down below the coire so at the end of the ridge after some scree surfing I headed directly north over easy slopes to regain the path into the Glen. It was then a casual walk back to the hotel for beer and chips.