Monday 22 October 2012--Quinag (pronounced coon yak) is a single mountain geologically, I suppose, but its three main peaks have enough separation
to be considered distinct entities in the hillwalking community. They are not high enough to be classified as Munros, the designation for Scottish peaks
above 3000 feet, which the avid climbers make a hobby of bagging. (There are 282 Munros.) They are not even numerically impressive as Corbetts
(2500-3000 feet, 219 of them), ranging in height from 2507 to 2654 feet. Quinag presents a dramatic aspect seen from Kylesku, however, and I guess I'd
long ago subconsciously dismissed the idea that I might get up there. But yesterday, on the drive from Loch Assynt, I eyeballed it and noticed that the
approach to Spidean C̣inich, the nearest and lowest peak, appeared to be a straightforward, steady, and fairly smooth ascent. The OS map shows that the
car park at the trail head is at about 820 feet, a nice little head start.
The weather forecast for today is good, but the lovely sunrise over Loch Glencoul during breakfast is not a good omen. By the time I'm at the car park, the sky has clouded over, and I'm having second thoughts. Start out, anyway...I can always turn around if rain comes. The first long slope up the flank of Spidean C̣inich is steady, but steeper and rougher than it looks from the road. In a little more than an hour, I'm at the top of the slope, looking across a saddle at the proper peak of Spidean C̣inich. The sky is clearing. The peak looks almost close enough to touch, but the two tiny specks approaching the top are, I know, the two gents who passed me a while back. They give me a more realistic sense of the scale of things. It's another hour before I am on the peak myself. The sun is shining clear now, and there are fine views all around.
My plan is to descend to Bealach a' Chornaidh, the pass that separates Spidean C̣inich from Sàil Gharbh and Sàil Ghorm, and then decide whether to ascend either of those, or start the return trek along the lower ground. It's not yet noon, so Sàil Gharbh, at least, seems likely. Getting down to the pass entails clambering down a spiky ridge, part of the rocky spine of Quinag. It's the airiest part of the day. I make it down without much trouble and start up the side of Sàil Gharbh. Two hours or so after leaving Spidean C̣inich, I'm on the highest summit of Quinag, enjoying the view over Kylesku, far below.
By the time I get back to Bealach a' Chornaidh, it's past midafternoon. I leave Sàil Ghorm for another day--I don't want to risk being out at sunset. I'm beat, anyway. The walk back down the valley is not difficult, just a long slog. But I'm back to the car in good time, and after a shower at the B&B, I'm in the Kylesku Hotel with a well-earned pint just as the sun goes down. It's been a fine day.