Slioch

A cold camp amongst the pines beside Loch Maree was followed by one of those perfect spring mornings, the chill air forgotten beneath blue skies and the snow capped summits of Torridon.
Following the path from Incheril, the ground frozen hard, I paused often, sometimes for a photo, often just to stop and stare, to soak in the scene laid before me. And the sun.
Years ago as a child amongst these mountains, I remember discussion between my parents of the approach to Slioch  - how the use of a boat was favoured by some, the short cut across the loch cutting the approach by several miles. Yet on this morning, that approach was a simple delight.
It was followed soon enough by the steep climb to the corrie, where the view opens and the wild expanse of the Fisherfield and Dundonnel Forest spills across the horizon. A gargantuan landscape of massive glaciation, sinuous lochs and wild corries.
To the west, the icy northern face of Beinn Eighe, Ruadh-stac Beag in the foreground, shimmering in the sun.
Deciding to approach the summit via Slioch's northern ridge I climbed quickly out of the corrie, gaining height rapidly and was soon amongst the lower snow fields. Soft and sugar like in consistency, the snow rapidly hardened as I dropped over the ridge onto the face above Lochan Fada.
Traversing some distance on wind blasted neve, I picked a line between outcrops enjoying the absorbing terrain but regained the ridge soon enough and on easier angled slopes, stopped again to absorb the scene.
The familiar ridge of An Teallach in the distance.
Connecting Sgurr an Thuill Bhan to the summit slopes of Slioch, the slender ridge proved simple enough and a joy to pass along, the deep blues of Lochan Fada glinting far below.
Looking back along the same ridge towards Sgurr an Thuill Bhan.
Evidence of the recent high winds was everywhere - the summit cairn - what a contrast, I spent an age on the top, not a breath of wind, the mountains frozen in icy silence.
A last view of Slioch from across Loch Maree - a familiar view but how much more it is appreciated, so recently returned from the summit.
Amongst the pines once more, I pitched a new camp for the cold night ahead, thoughts turning to two wheels and the route for tomorrow.

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