Friday, 15 July 2016

Conquering the Mighty Suilven. . .

There are some mountains that are just such iconic shapes in the landscape that you have to climb them.  Such a mountain is Suilven. You can't miss its distinctive rounded shape, even when it's partially in the clouds.  I'm recounting the holiday a little out of chronological order but if you only do one summit while visiting North West Scotland, this is a really good one to do.  This shot was actually taken the day before, at the end of a coastal walk. We were taking our final break on top of a hill and getting excited about the next day's challenge.

The day itself started out sunny and breezy.  The approach we took was to go up the side of the mountain, where you can see that tiny v notch and then turn right to head up to the top of the domed summit. First you have to walk several miles along quite a good track to get anywhere near the mountain.

I feel the climbing gods were with our group today.

Once you feel you've gotten close, you really haven't.  There are still some small ascents to go up and over.

And a few lochans (what the English would call tarns,) to walk by. This one was filled with trout which would occasionally leap out of the water to snatch at midges.  The breeze kept the pesky critters off us though.

And then the steep climb begins.  Fortunately it was dry and the path was relatively good.  There is a bit of loose stone, but lots of solid footholds.  And it zigzags which makes it slightly easier on the legs and cardio.

 Up on the notch and great views all around.  And I'm gobsmacked to find a drystone wall up here.

It goes down both sides of Suilven for hundreds of feet.  Just amazing.  As are the views of the sea, summer isles and more mountains in the background.

Here we are nearly at the summit and looking back at the other part of the mountain. You'd need some serious scrambling to get to the top of that peak. 

And here's just one of the views from the summit.  Rain could be seen approaching from the distance so alas, we only had about ten minutes at the top before our leader was urging us to move on so we could descend (the same way we came up) in safety.

It was a tough climb but an exhilarating one. It's not the highest mountain in the area; it's not even a munro. But there is something very special about climbing Suilven and it felt an immense privilege to be on the top.  And even though we had to slog back along the track in the rain with tired legs (I thought it would never end!), looking back, Suilven looked absolutely magical in the mist. And I was up there. Brilliant.

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