Applecross – Sgurr a’ Chaorachain

We figured Skye might be a bit rammed over the weekend, so headed back over the bridge to explore Applecross. Another charming stopover overlooking Loch Carron

… and then we headed north. Don’t let the sunshine fool you – the thermometer maxed out at 8C and there was a bit of a breeze too, so yet another chilly day in prospect.

Our objective was Sword of Gideon, a 3* VS on the South Face of Sgurr a’ Chaorachain – carefully chosen; despite being a multi-pitch adventure on a mountain crag it’s only 10mins from the road! The road in question goes over the Bealach na Ba, the third highest pass in Britain, and our late start was further delayed waiting for a cycle race to clear the road (a hundred bikes doing 625m in 10km, so fair enough to close the road for a couple of hours – it’d be carnage otherwise!)

It was worth the wait – superb views down to Loch Kishorn

… and to the very snowy mountains of the Central Highlands.

Best of all, we had the pass to ourselves to start with as we were allowed through early because we were stopping halfway.

The route takes the easiest line up and best looking bit of rock (a well weathered Torridonion sandstone) on the left of the top picture – 3 pitches, of which the middle one is by far the pick. The first involves a tricky move off the ground followed by a long enjoyable scramble (you need 60m ropes to reach the terrace at the bottom of P2, not 50m as the guidebook suggests, though you can easily split it).

Pitch 2 starts up a thin (in both senses) groove then makes a precarious step left (not too bad if you are tall) followed by a stiff pull through a cracked bulge. Good value! Here’s the view from the stance.

P3 is a bit of an anti-climax, but leads to an easy descent ramp, and we were back in the warmth of the van in about 2.5 hours for the round trip.

Pootle up to the top of the Bealach for yet another stunning night, with views over Skye (again)

… and a somewhat eerie sunset:

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