I was asked by two good friend’s would I like a short wander into the Northern Corries. It was Sadly it was grand to be asked but I am still struggling missing the hills and especially the winter. I have got a few appointments coming up in February and March I pray we get to the bottom of my snags. It’s hard at times to stay mentally strong at times but I manage due to great support from friends and family.
Of course I am lucky life has been good but it’s still great to see what others are up to. The RAF Valley Mountain Rescue Team from Wales are up in Scotland and we’re on Ben Nevis yesterday it was great to see the photos. They have with them Rusty Bale a grand troop taking them round the Ben. They will have a great time. So good to see the smiling faces in his photos.
My first winter trip for a winter week from Wales in 1979 was to Seana Bhraigh a remote mountain in the North of Scotland . We were there for a few days walking and climbing. I had 5 troops and my mate Mark Sinclair came over to help. The young troops were amazed where we were going. No pub or the wild nights of North Wales. Only a lonely bothy below a huge cliff but what a place to be. You have to treasure these places. I wonder if anyone has photos of that trip. Pete Kay a great friend from Valley was there ?
One of the more remote Munros, Seana Bhràigh is situated on the very edge of an undulating plateau, dramatically poised above the stunning Luchd Choire. The troops were shocked on the journey up! It’s a long way in a small Land Rover and trailer.
We took the alternative approach is up Strath Mulzie from Oykel Bridge, where it is possible to take a vehicle along the track as far as the School house bothy outside the stalking season. The ridge leading directly up the summit is a steep walk. The very dramatic Creag an Duine ridge gives a spectacular scramble; the most difficult part is a descent after An Sgùrr – avoid this by backtracking from An Sgùrr and traversing the left flank to reach the col. In winter it’s an incredible place with big Cornices.
History – Many may have heard of Philip Tranter who wrote the first guide to this area in 1966 was a hero of mine and I tried to climb many of his routes and his hill days Tranters Round is one.
He died in 1968 on his way back from the Alps in a motor bike crash. Scotland lost one of its finest mountaineers he was so young and so dynamic. My good pal Blyth Wright RIP was part of the exploration and this area is steeped in the history of exploration and huge hill days. The club was called the Corriemulzie Club.
There are two Bothies here now one the MBA the other Magoos bothy. In my early days there was just one the MBA full of historical information in the old bothy book. This upgraded one next building was built by his friends in commemoration of Mark ‘Magoo’ Maguire who was killed in peacekeeping duties in Kosovo in 2001.
On our Big walks across Scotland we stayed in the bothy in the Corrie that makes it such a great memory a night in the bothy in a specail place. It had a history of exploration in the winter as I became immersed in the winter climbing history in Scotland. These were some hardy folk.
In winter it’s a wild place and if you can a great way in is by mountain bike. The river crossing can be interesting but what an adventure it is . The climbing when in is lovely with a times big views and big cornices. You feel out there far from help if needed.
This place has so many memories a remote mountain yet a huge part of my life. I stayed here on many nights with team member’ after long days. Among these memories are of a great pal the Team Leader of Assynt MRT Phil Jones was killed here in an avalanche in Feb 1991 it seems so many years ago.
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. An amazing place with so many varying memories, the peace and quiet was incredible and the hills so green in the summer and the heather coming into bloom made this a great walk out even in the torrential rain. We had climbed together and got to know each other well Assynt MRT are a great team and we helped out with bits and pieces when we could. Phil was a huge part of the community and I still miss him to this day. I went to his funeral in Lochinver it was a difficult time and a reminder to all of us that tragedy can occur at any time. Mountain Rescue are not excluded from this. I would like to find out the details of the Avalanche from any of the Assynt Team who were there. I am helping with an Avalanche survey that goes back to 1960.
Information – Highland Scrambles North Scottish Mountaineering Scramblers Guide
Northern Highland North Scottish
Mountaineering Club Guide. & SMC Munro App. Walk Highland’s
In memory of Phil Jones Assynt MRT.
About Assynt Mountain Rescue Team
The primary role of the Assynt Mountain Rescue Team is the provision of search and rescue in mountainous, or inhospitable terrain in North and NW Scotland, for any person who may be injured, or otherwise in need of assistance. The Team are all volunteers from a variety of backgrounds.
Heavy, I know one of the folk who was with Phil when the tragedy happened. Details sent via Messenger
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Thank you a good man did some great routes with him
I was out on a snow hole/ climbing trip to Creagan Coire Etchachan that weekend. Conditions were similar to now ie bone hard snow after a thaw & refreeze. I clearly remember the avalanche risk was widely given as 1 & yet there were small pockets of unstable wind slab lying in places where the wind had allowed the new snow to rest.
Thank you for that
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