Classic Route, deservedly 5 star status.
Access: Park opposite forestry on A87 at Malagan, 3.9 miles east of the petrol station at Shiel Bridge, 7.8 miles W of Cluanie Inn, 1.75 miles after Eas-nan-Arm bridge over R. Shiel.
Route: As usual, my route includes all the associated Munro tops. On west ridge of The Saddle there are of two these, which adds 2.5 miles to the distance and 340m (3100') to the ascent. The Munro Sgurr na Sgine is usually included with any ascent of The Saddle. The shapely Corbett top Faochag (a deleted Munro top) is an excellent finale to the day and requires almost no extra effort.
The Forcan ridge is a straight-forward, but slightly exposed, scramble along a ridge that is literally knife edge at one point: you can sit astride it! Watch out for the big step after Sgurr na Forcan: a 20m near vertical drop. This is the crux of the climb, technically slightly harder than the In Pin, but it has a superfluity of excellent holds and is not difficult, just exposed. The two guys behind me used a rope. That did not seem necessary to me even in the snowy conditions, but only after having completed its descent. From its orientation, the sun keeps the face fairly dry and so it is probably often ice-free in winter. It is a ridge worthy of comparison with those in Skye. If you enjoy this, then you'll do fine in Skye. There are plenty of pictures of the bad step to study on the internet. If you have not done any scrambling before, don't attempt the Forcan ridge yet. Gain some easier experience first. Apart from anything, one of its difficulties is that the Bad Step is descended, making finding the route and the holds less easy. However, it is possible to by-pass the "step" if the conditions are right.
Map: Use the OS 1:25000 map. The 1:50000 does not have enough detail. Note that the OS post is not at the summit.
Conditions 16/3/06: Cold but dry, mostly cloud-free day. 4°C at car. Light but sharp E wind. Snow above 600m, crampons necessary above 750m.
Conditions 26/9/08: Stiff, cool breeze; overcast; dry.
|0855||0650||Park immediately SE of Malagan Bridge||40||0||0.0 miles||NG97301378||No Orange|
|0955||0755||Walk NW along road 350m beyond Malagan
Bridge to gate at path end. Ascend formerly
excellent stalkers' path (now degraded by
modern amateurish "repair" work) up
Cnoc Dubh to bealach N of Meallan Odhar.
|1030||0830||Continue S/SW on path up
Meallan Odhar to foot of Forcan ridge
|0845||Scramble up to top of first section of ridge||825||795||2.85 miles||NG94431313|
|1115||0905||W up ridge to T Sgurr na Forcan||963||955||3.1 miles||NG94031305|
|W down exposed big step (20m) to col||935||3.2 miles||NG93911305|
|W to top||958||975||3.25 miles||NG93831304|
|WNW to col||935||3.28 miles||NG93761307|
|1145||0930||WNW to true summit M The Saddle||1010||1050||3.4 miles||NG93611313|
|SW to dip||995||miles||NG93551310|
|1150||0935||SW to The Saddle (trig pt)||1010||1065||3.5 miles||NG93481307||Orange|
|W/WSW to col||950||3.7 miles||NG93101291|
|1225||0955||The Saddle – W Top||968||1075||3.95 miles||NG92781282||No Orange|
|1005||W to col||891||4.2 miles||NG92361284|
|1245||1010||WNW to T Spidean Dhomhuill Bhric||939||1125||4.3 miles||NG92221294||No Orange|
|W to col||853||4.5 miles||NG91951300|
|1305||1025||NW/NNW to T Sgurr Leac nan Each||919||1190||4.7 miles||NG917133||No Orange|
|Return S/SSE/SE to col||853||4.95 miles||NG91951300|
|1325||1042||E to T Spidean Dhomhuill Bhric||939||1275||5.1 miles||NG92221294||No Orange|
|ESE to col||891||5.25 miles||NG92361284|
|1350||1100||E to The Saddle – W Top||968||1345||5.5 miles||NG92781282||No Orange|
|ENE to col||950||5.7 miles||NG93101291|
|ENE to The Saddle (trig pt)||1010||1405||5.95 miles||NG93481307||Orange|
|1500||1155||Descend SE ridge and then E across corrie
to Lochan Bealach Coire Mhalagain
|1525||1215||Path SE to ridge cairn (almost at top)||880||1585||6.9 miles||NG94521212|
|1535||1220||Path SW/S to col||857||7.07 miles||NG94441189|
|1230||S to T Sgurr na Sgine, NW Top
(Not a very worthy Munro top.)
|942||1660||7.27 miles||NG94381158||No Orange|
|SE to col||921||7.33 miles||NG94451152|
|1600||1240||SE to M Sgurr na Sgine
(Orange 5m from summit)
|946||1685||7.45 miles||NG94581138||No Orange|
|Return NW to col||921||7.55 miles||NG94451152|
|1605||1250||NW to T Sgurr na Sgine, NW Top||942||1705||7.62 miles||NG94381158||No Orange|
|N to col||857||7.82 miles||NG94441189|
|1620||1305||N/NNE to top (near cairn for path up)||880||1715||7.97 miles||NG94521212|
|E to col||855||8.25 miles||NG94931224|
|1640||1320||E to Faochag||909||1790||8.6 miles||NG95461234||Orange|
|1405||Path NE down ridge towards Allt
Mhalagain path: Stile in deer fence
|1420||Gate in deer fence & river ford.
a bridge slightly upstream if necessary)
|1755||1430||Track N back to car.||40||1795||10.3 miles||NG97301378||No Orange|