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Michael Stirling-Aird

Mid Summer camp on Cul Mor

Posted on 18th November, 2018

Mid Summer camp on Cul Mor

Cul Mor, just north of Ullapool, is a wonderful mountain, and to camp on its summit in fine, clear weather was an amazing experience.  I was fortunate to get lovely light at dusk and, soon afterwards, dawn.  The temperature plummeted overnight in the glens forming fog which flowed past Suilven, making it look like a boat cutting through water.  Truly magical.  

The walk up up Cul Mor is straightforward.  In my view, the effort to reward ratio is about as good as it gets, because the views the ascent offers towards Suilven are breathtaking, and the views just get better on the summit.  The weather in this part of the world is fickle, and I have learned the hard way that any West or South West airflow is to be avoided -  in these conditions the tops can quickly become enveloped in cloud.  This trip was to exploit an unusual Easterly airflow, which I thought would give clear conditions, avoiding the typical Summer haze.  The ascent was on one of the hottest days of the year, and I had to carry five litres of water, plus the tent, food, and the large format camera.  Thankfully there was a breeze.

Once the tent was set up, I walked the length of the summit, exploring for future opportunites.  On this occasion, I wanted to make an image of Suilven and Loch Veyatie, making use of the beautiful, interesting and varied Torridonian sandstone rocks in the foreground.  

It never got properly dark, and wasn't long before the sky started to light up with the alpenglow at dawn.  The air was crystal clear in every direction, and there was nothing but silence, and a majestic flow of fog past Suilven.  Working with a view camera is a bit slower than using a digital SLR, but it helps to previsualise possible opportunities, and I had two images in mind - one of Suilven, and one looking towards Stac Pollaidh should the dawn light illuminate the foreground rocks, which it did!  After this, it was time to brew up a proper coffee, and enjoy this and some porridge with a view as good as I could imagine anywhere in the world.  

Mid Summer camp on Cul Mor

This is the campsite around 4am, with the mist flowing around the base of Suilven.  Around midnight, the mist had come flooding into the glens from the East, so I was half expecting that I wouldn't see a sunrise.  

Mid Summer camp on Cul Mor

This is the view of Suilven well after sunset.  

Mid Summer camp on Cul Mor

Moonset and sunrise panorama looking towards Stac Pollaidh, Cul Beag, Ben More Coigach, and An Teallach in the far distance.  As the moon sets, the first light of a new dawn illuminates the tops of Stac Pollaidh, Cul Beag, Ben More Coigach, and An Teallach in the far distance.  I was extremely fortunate that the light at this time of year just catches some of the sandstone rocks in the foreground, giving additional depth to the image.  Camera movements have been used to include the shapes, textures and colours of rock formations in the foreground.  This is a truly fabulous part of the world, and to experience it in moments such as this is life affirming!