Sunday, 25 November 2012

Ciste Dhubh and Am Bathach

Sunday 25th November

A day walk up a snowy Munro and Corbett from Glen Shiel

Distance: 14km; Ascent: 1360m; Overcast but mainly dry; with Colin

After curtailing our planned backpack yesterday due to deep snow, we decided to base ourselves in Roybridge for a couple of nights.  It turned out that Ciste Dhubh was one of the closest Munros to there that neither Colin or I had previously climbed and so that is where we headed today; it also had the option of bagging a bonus Corbett should there be enough time and daylight available after the Munro.

Heading along the Allt a' Chaorainn Bhig
Therefore shortly after nine o'clock this morning we left the car by the A87 and picked our way through an unpleasant area of felled forest to reach a faint path heading alongside the Allt a' Chaorain.  We ascended gently up the glen to reach the snow line some distance below the Bealach a' Choinich.

Looking down An Caorann Beag
We took a brief rest in the broad bealach before beginning our ascent up steep soft snow so as to become established on the south ridge of Ciste Dhubh.  There were good views back towards Am Bathach, but they were soon gone as we ascended into the clouds.

Am Bathach from the southern slopes of Ciste Dhubh
The south top of Ciste Dhubh
We skirted the impressive looking south top to reach the summit of Ciste Dhubh (Munro, Marilyn) shortly after 1pm.  By now the cloud had started to thin out, so we were afforded with intermittent views across to the surrounding hills.  We found a bit of shelter just below the cairn so we stopped here for lunch.

On the summit of Ciste Dhubh
However we didn't linger long on the summit due to the chilly wind, and we were soon descending back down the south ridge.  And the improving visibility meant that there were some good views of the imposing crags too.

Descending the south ridge of Ciste Dhubh
The crags of Ciste Dhubh
Soon we were back at the top of the steep snow slope, which we began to pick our way down.  Lower down, once the angle had eased slightly, we glissaded down the rest of the slope back down to the bealach.  Then we ascended up the snowy NW ridge of Am Bathach with excellent views across to Sgurr an Fhuarail and the South Glen Shiel ridge.

Sgurr an Fhuarail from Am Bathach
Clouds above Glen Shiel
At around 2:45pm we reached the summit cairn of Am Bathach (Corbett, Marilyn), where we rested a while to take in the impressive views now that the cloud had lifted.  

On the summit of Am Bathach
We continued along the long SSE ridge of Am Bathach, with excellent views on down the ridge towards Loch Cluanie.

Loch Cluanie from the SSE ridge of Am Bathach
Late afternoon clouds above the South Glen Shiel ridge
By now it was late afternoon and there were some wonderful colours in the clouds above the South Glen Shiel ridge.  We descended down the ridge to the SE and at around 4pm we dropped below the snow line, before following an intermittently boggy path back down to the car in the gathering gloom.  Just before 4:30pm we reach the car after another excellent snowy day out hillwalking in the Highlands :)

N.B. 13/02/13 - Post date updated to actual date of walk, i.e. 25/11/12 (from 31/12/12) 


  1. Nice one.
    Summit looked bloody cold, but some of the views on the descent ere jolly fine. I need to move to somewhere nearer mountains.

    1. Thanks. I can confirm that the summit was indeed pretty chilly! But when the cloud cleared, the views made it all worthwhile. Also, surely you're closer to the Alps than I am ;)