Scottish Highlands vs Colorado

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Scott P
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Scottish Highlands vs Colorado

Post by Scott P »

I suppose I have been to most of the worlds major mountain ranges, but I haven't been to the Scottish Highlands. The main reason is that the mountains there seems to look pretty similar to Colorado's other than some larger lakes at the base of the mountains.

I have noticed that a lot of 14ers.com members have been there, so I thought I'd ask. Am I mostly right in my way of thinking or am I way off?

I thought it would be interesting to see the answers.
I'm slow and fat. Unfortunately, those are my good qualities.
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chip_monk
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Re: Scottish Highlands vs Colorado

Post by chip_monk »

The Cuillin ridge on the Isle of Skye is pretty sweet. https://www.thebmc.co.uk/how-to-scrambl ... llin-ridge.
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ECF55
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Re: Scottish Highlands vs Colorado

Post by ECF55 »

Scotland has some great trails. Ben Nevis (already mentioned) is a great walk-up, but a good exercise in "up" (>4000ft elevation). The Cairngorms in Central Scotland also have great scenery and are worth a visit. Trees are relatively sparse in the Highlands given climate, latitude and historical logging, so you get lots of great views throughout.

Compared to Colorado, the altitude is much more accommodating (High Point in Great Britain is 4412 ft), but the weather can be really sketchy given the close proximity to the ocean.
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two lunches
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Re: Scottish Highlands vs Colorado

Post by two lunches »

@Scott your company would be MOST welcome for my trip up Ben Nevis this fall :)
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mtnkub
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Re: Scottish Highlands vs Colorado

Post by mtnkub »

Main difference is probably the kind of rain jacket you want to bring. I haven't done much hiking in Scotland, but every single day involved some kind of prolonged precipitation. Very pretty, though, and highly recommended! (Including for the unexpectedly good food).
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Re: Scottish Highlands vs Colorado

Post by cougar »

They use bagpipes as ice axes and glissade in kilts
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Re: Scottish Highlands vs Colorado

Post by pvnisher »

I did Ben Nevis in summer, but most of my other trips to Scotland were in the winter, and man, it's a different place than Colorado for sure.

Made me understand what "grim" really means.
But in the best possible way.
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chip_monk
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Re: Scottish Highlands vs Colorado

Post by chip_monk »

As other posters have mentioned. The weather is the main difference. Lots of rain for hours/days at a time, combined with high winds, fog and mist. The fog, mist and rain can make navigating tough if you rely on electronic devices. In addition, some of the bed rock has magnetic properties that disrupt handheld compass orientation. I’d advise laminated mini-maps with a tether so they don’t blow from your hand, combined with a waterproof GPS device.

The abundant moisture and humidity cause mosses to flourish in crags and cracks, and across ledges. The rock can be very slippery and obtaining clean hand holds can be tough. Verglas is often present and makes scrambling pitches tricky. Many approaches are across peat bogs, which are heavily water logged. The streams and rivers are often in torrent requiring special techniques to cross them without being swept away.

I’ve spent a lot of time hiking in North Wales and Scotland, and being soaked all the way through is fairly typical for a day out on the peaks. Most youth hostels and guest houses for hikers and climbers will have drying rooms with wooden racks for gear, boots and clothing. Take a load of waterproof outer wear, waterproof boots, gaiters and insect repellant. When the weather gets really bad, distilleries/pubs are your best bet.

Also, a few miscellaneous considerations; in May/June the sun rises at 4:00-4:30am and sets at 10:30-11:00pm, so you get lots of daylight time to hike. Midges also become an issue after May and then persist throughout the summer. Their bites will be a constant source of irritation day/night if camping.

The north gullies of Ben Nevis make great snow climbs in April/May. The Cuillin ridge has enough scope to keep you occupied for days. The views are incredible when the mist and cloud cover clear, but that’s not often, so be prepared to see nothing from summits. Overall, I’d describe the highlands as having a water soaked, overcast, bleak majesty as compared to Colorado’s sunny photogenic alpine scene.
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mtree
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Re: Scottish Highlands vs Colorado

Post by mtree »

chip_monk wrote: Sat Mar 26, 2022 6:56 am Also, a few miscellaneous considerations; in May/June the sun rises at 4:00-4:30am and sets at 10:30-11:00pm, so you get lots of daylight time to hike. Midges also become an issue after May and then persist throughout the summer. Their bites will be a constant source of irritation day/night if camping.

The views are incredible when the mist and cloud cover clear, but that’s not often, so be prepared to see nothing from summits. Overall, I’d describe the highlands as having a water soaked, overcast, bleak majesty as compared to Colorado’s sunny photogenic alpine scene.
...oh, soooo true!

I enjoyed hiking in Scotland, but in a sufferfest sort of way. The best part was drying out, warming up, and parking myself in a pub afterwards.
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disentangled
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Re: Scottish Highlands vs Colorado

Post by disentangled »

I've hiked all over England, Scotland, and Wales. The Lake District is full of good walkups, while Scotland and Wales have the remote peaks and difficult climbing. chip_monk has it right about conditions but my experience with weather was always very good. Lots of clear days and sunshine in the summer months. There are two significant differences from Colorado, elevation gain and trailhead access. You obviously won't get anything like the elevation gain you have in Colorado, unless you're linking multiple peaks, and there are some great linkups in Wales in particular. Trailheads are easy to access without having to drive up a lousy mining road or whatever. Hikers also have a right of way so you often will barge through some farmer's field to get where you're going and they're very tolerant of that. Ben Nevis and Snowdon are overly crowded but there are many many other spectacular peaks where you can be totally alone and isolated, especially in Scotland but also on the other less-travelled routes in the Lake District and Snowdonia.
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Re: Scottish Highlands vs Colorado

Post by pvnisher »

If you're in England, then Lake District is where it's at.

For Scotland, Glencoe, and don't miss Kinlochleven. Indoor ice climbing gym!

Between indoor ice climbing in Scotland and indoor skiing in Dubai, I feel like I've hit the big ones. I haven't done indoor skydiving yet, though. Ha.
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