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Seanna Bhraigh and Maggoos Bothy
12:59pm Wednesday 2nd March 2011 in Leisure
“Have you heard of Maggoos Bothy?” chips in Janet I read an article in a magazine, it sounds a great place, I will send you a copy.”
A bothy is a basic mountain shelter available for anyone to use free of charge. The Mountain Bothy Association maintains a network throughout the UK they make superb bases for the exploration of remote areas.
This one sounded interesting, a tragic bittersweet story of a RAF pilot lost in action in the Kosovo war and how his squadron mates had honoured his memory by renovating his favourite bothy. Sitting next to a superb mountain-I was hooked.
January, we had just completed two superb mountaineering days in the far north western hills the highlight being an ascent of An Teallach, one of the great Scottish summits, finding it in superb winter conditions.
Today the big question was which route to climb Seanna Bhraigh? I was eying up the challenging Craig an Duine ridge as we walked in. The guide described it as a grade 2 summer scramble, but it would be much harder in full winter conditions today.
Over a quick brew at Maggoos we dropped off our overnight gear and the team decided to go for the Craig an Duine route.
Gaining the main ridge was tricky with wet snow lying on top of unstable blocks. As we gained height, the difficulties started in earnest. At first they were easily turned but as the ridge steepened it became more difficult.
Near the top, the character of the route changed again, becoming very exposed though there was good neve. The direct line looked awkward, so I flanked it by traversing onto easier ground on the right.
Soon all five of us stood on the summit pinnacle of the ridge but were now faced with a steep down climb, rappel or turning the pinnacle to reach the main summit plateau.
We opted for the latter and eventually found a straightforward snow slope up onto easy ground.
The main difficulties were now over and the clouds rolled away, leaving us with stunning views of the still distant summit and the surrounding area. The Assynt hills were particularly impressive, as was yesterdays hill An Teallach.
We eventually reached the summit cairn late in the day as the sun was sinking rapidly, so we made haste down the voie normale ridge as night fell.
The final obstacle within one hundred meters of the bothy was a river crossing where we all got wet, but it was not too bad at the end of the day. Not surprisingly, the night in the bothy was quite eventful -- after three hard days we could finally relax, tired but very pleased with what we had achieved. The drink flowed and, needless to say, some members of the group were a little worse for wear the morning after as we walked back to civilisation.
Maggoos Bothy and Seanna Bhraigh had given us a superb mini expedition, a classic ridge climb on a remote Scottish mountain in winter conditions.
Further information: A series of guidebooks covering Scotland are available from the Scottish Mountaineering Club.
Seanna Bhraigh is 927m and is a very serious undertaking in winter; it is in a remote position some 20km from the nearest tarmac road. The Craig an Duine route described is a grade 2 scramble in summer, Grade II in winter-The total distance covered was 22km over 2 days.
Anyone wishing to take part in any mountaineering activities should be aware that these activities are inherently dangerous and as in the article you may have to make critical safety decisions based on your own judgement every time you climb outdoors.
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