Quinag – another classic mountain with 3 Corbett’s and some incredible climbs and memories.

Those who know their mountains will understand that Quinag is a magnificent mountain. Any mountain containing 3 Corbett’s summits is incredible. The summits Spidean Coinich, Sail Gharbh & Sail Ghorm Quinag will never let you down in my opinion. In summer it’s a cracking peak with views to the sea that are outstanding and that’s some Statement from those who know these North West mountains. The most Westerly summit has outstanding views of the lochs and sea. In winter it’s a different mountain and you will rarely see anyone else. Yet the many cliffs have some incredible climbs on the sandstone tiers.

Walk Highlands sums it up : “Quinag is a magnificent and complex mountain with three summits attaining Corbett status. The ascent of all three is one of the finest hillwalks in Scotland, with fine peaks, dramatic ridges and stunning views. If the full walk is too much, the ascent of the first peak (with a return the same way) is a short and fairly straightforward hillwalk with rewards out of all proportion to the effort involved. The mountain is under the stewardship of the John Muir Trust.

TERRAIN

Mostly good hill paths. Mountainous terrain with some very steep ground but only a minimal amount of scrambling.”

Wee Bull Turner “on Quinag. 

Near Miss on Quinag :

I always loved being up on the North West coast on the hills,climbing and away from the crowds. There is little better than introducing some “young rockstars” to real climbing away from the “climb by numbers” of the popular crags. I was at RAF Leuchars at the time and we would raid Kinloss’s area . Often we would wander on these hardly climbed cliffs. The only problem was you could get the full “mountaineering experience” of loose rock and route finding. The day this photo was taken I think we were supposed to be on a route on Quinag. What a place to be pick your line and have a look.

Pinnacle on Quinag. From old MRT calendar

We got to the top of a pinnacle when I was belaying I heard a crash then a huge rock came crashing down. The smell of the sulphur and the fear gripped me. Lucky I was on a small ledge where I had adjusted the belay a bit. As the rock passed where I had been it missed I knew I was lucky another of my 9 lives gone. Yet what a day on the sandstone what an adventure and yet it could have been all so different. Life is about adventure and those who love exploring will enjoy this place . 

From (Wee Bull ) Stephen Turner – I can still remember that moment in vivid detail, time seemed to pass at a fraction of normal speed. Me on a stance on one foot and holding on with one hand being pushed and swinging to one side as a giant boulder slid straight at me. Thinking I have killed Heavy and at the very least I’m about to have my hand crushed before I fall. I recall the smell of smoke coming from all the sparks from that boulder as it tumbled down the hill, which seemed to go on forever. Then as casual as you like Heavy appears from along the ledge he was belaying me on. Turns around and tells everybody “That’s why you always have an extendable belay”.

This large and complicated mountian has several cliffs that give worthwhile winter and summer routes. Despite its height it tends to hold snow well.

The steep north face of Sail Garbh is an impressive cliff, excellent in winter but too low to freeze frequently. The climbing is often wintrier than appears from below though.

I last climbed the 3 Corbett’s a few years ago on my own. I was met by a Broken Spectre on the ridge and fresh snow. As I came out of the mist this was my view!

Winter Quinag

On the ridge it was a cracking day very icy but felt so remote. It was such a great day to be out and I had a great look at some of the cliffs and the new winter climbs. Sadly the paths had a lot of erosion in places but the ridge was straightforward and the bitter wind made you keep going with few stops. Getting back to the car 6 hours later my face felt blasted by the wind but what a day. The views out to the sea to the West and the wild North make this an exceptional place to be.

Quinag another mountain of so many memories.

This Corrie brought back many memories but this was of a good friend who was the Assynt Mountain Rescue Team Leader Phil Jones was killed in a wind slab avalanche on February 3 1991.

Phil Jones – Assynt MRT ( photo Assynt MRT)

I was just coming home from running the annual winter course for the RAF mountain rescue Teams when the news was broken by the BBC. They just said that a MRT team leader had been killed, no name was given and it was an awful time for our families. When the news broke that it was Phil it was a terrible tragedy as I knew Phil and the Assynt team well and cannot imagine that happening during a training exercise in such a remote area.

I went to the funeral in Lochinver a very sad and difficult day and still miss Phil who was a great help to me in that wonderful area in the far North of Scotland. It took a long time for the Assynt Team to get over this tragedy. We climbed together and Phil was always showing us new cliffs and crags and some of the many rarely climbed classic routes in the area. It was 25 years ago since Phil died in that lovely but savage Corrie of Seanna Braigh and as the rain and mist came down on my walk out I had a wee thought for him and his family.

An amazing place with so many varying memories, the peace and quiet was incredible and the hills so green and the heather coming into bloom made this a great walk out even in the torrential rain.

There was a small cairn on I am sure Quinag just of one  of the beleachs/ tops with a great view of the wild Assynt that Phil loved and I visited it not long after the funeral.

Can anyone give me a Grid Reference of it please?

This was from my Blog 21 Aug 2011

Phil Jones photos Assynt MRT.
The late Phil Jones Team Leader of Assynt MRT – photo Assynt MRT

I went to the funeral in Lochinver a very sad and difficult day and still miss Phil who was a great help to me in that wonderful area in the far North of Scotland. It took a long time for the Assynt Team to get over this tragedy.We climbed together and Phil was always showing us new cliffs and crags and some of the many rarely climbed classic routes in the area.  It was 25 years ago since Phil died in that lovely but savage Corrie of Seanna Braigh and as the rain and mist came down on my walk out I had a wee thought for him and his family.

An amazing place with so many varying memories, the peace and quiet was incredible and the hills so green and the heather coming into bloom made this a great walk out even in the torrential rain.

There was a small cairn on I am sure Quinag just of one  of the beleachs/ tops with a great view of the wild Assynt that Phil loved and I visited it not long after the funeral.

Can anyone give me a Grid Reference of it please?

This was from my Blog 21 Aug 2011

The Assynt Mountain Rescue Team is still going strong from its forming in 1977 . Assynt Mountain Rescue works with the Police, Coastguard and other agencies in Sutherland and Caithness, volunteering to provide search and rescue support. Assynt Mountain Rescue can be on call any time, any day, and in any type of weather. All the Assynt Mountain Rescue team members are volunteers who share a love for hill walking, mountaineering, rock climbing, snow and ice-climbing, caving and generally being in the outdoors.

We rely on voluntary support and funding to provide this service. We work out of two bases – our main rescue post is at Inchnadamph, and we have a mobile unit at Thurso.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Corbetts, Enviroment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Quinag – another classic mountain with 3 Corbett’s and some incredible climbs and memories.

  1. Charlie Macleod says:

    Cheers Heavy….Quinag is a fantastic hill. Different from every angle. I regularly make a point of nipping up after team training if we are in the neighbourhood and it is one of my favourite bivvy spots. Sitting proud as it does the views are exceptional.

    Liked by 1 person

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