Ring of Steall - 4 eggs in one basket
by BlackPanther » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:59 pm
Route description: The Ring of Steall, Mamores
Munros included on this walk: Am Bodach, An Gearanach, Sgurr a'Mhaim, Stob Coire a'Chairn
Date walked: 24/07/2011
Time taken: 9.5 hours
Distance: 15 km
Ascent: 1720m6 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Having only climbed Ben Nevis in the Nevis range, I was eager to take a bigger bite of this yummy cake. And after three rubbish weekends there came a Sunday morning which at last welcomed us with lovely sunshine and blue sky. Forecast suggested the best weather would be south west - so we left Beauly early enough to arrive in Glen Nevis at a reasonable time. We parked at the car park at the very end of the road into the glen and soon we were walking through the narrow Alpine-like gorge, only to arrive suddenly at the more open space with green meadows and surrounding them, steep rocky cliffs.
I've been to this lovely valley twice before - once on a cloudy winter day, once in pouring August rain. Third time lucky! Only now, when the nature was smiling, I could appreciate the beauty of this very special spot - including the Steall Waters, one of the most impressive waterfalls I've seen so far.
I investigated the wire bridge and wasn't really sure if it was the best idea
...especially that the levels of water in the river were so low, it was easy just to hop to the other side:
We couldn't resist having a closer look at the waterfall:
To find the route up the slopes of An Gearanach, we had to meander through a boggy meadow. Soon we picked up a well-worn and a bit muddy path, heading up along a stream, Allt Coire Chadha Chaoruinn. The day was gorgeous, and the higher we climbed, the better the views - including the Big Ben
Just up past the boggy bit:
Sgurr a Bhuic and Stob Coire Bhealaich across the glen:
The Ben and the glen
The Grey corries showing up for the first time...
At about 600m the path goes west along the slope:
...to suddenly turn steep uphill again. We stopped for a few moments here, amazed by the views revealed to our very eyes. For the first time we saw Sgurr a Mhaim:
...The infamous Devil's Ridge...
...and even better pano across to Ben Nevis:
The northern side of Glen Nevis:
It was time to climb up some very steep steps! I still had a lot of energy so I was the first to tackle them:
In a short time we found ourselves on the ridge of An Gearanach - now the top of the first Munro looked close:
Only when we arrived on the summit, we saw what still awaited us:
I kept glancing at the Devil's Ridge with some apprehension. Kevin, who completed the Ring of Steall some 12 years ago, managed to scare me, telling me how difficult this ridge was and that I would probably pee my pants doing it! Deep down in my heart I knew he was just teasing me (he always does that and he thinks it's funny!!!), but the fear was there somewhere, waiting to grab me by my throat So far, the ridge didn't look that bad, but we were still far away from it and I dreaded the close encounter...
I concentrated on the lovely views around me just to push the devil away The trio of peaks: An Garbhanach, Stob Coire a'Chairn and Am Bodach looked particularly tasty for a hill walker:
The shapely cone of Binnein Beag to the east:
We continued along the narrow ridge to An Garbhanach...
...where, to my own big surprise, I had great fun scrambling over the boulders!
Looking back to An Gearanach, it's shape is almost perfectly symmetrical:
Some more fun-providing rocks!
The second Munro of the circuit, Stob Coire a'Chairn:
Binnein More and Na Gruagaichean from the col between An Garbhanach and Stob Coire a'Chairn:
A glimpse back to the steep descent from An Garbhanach:
The approach to Munro no. 2 was now straightforward, relatively steep on zigzagging path. Once we reached the summit, we found out it was already occupied by quite a few fellow walkers, lying on the grass and enjoying the sunny day We decided to take a longer break as well, have lunch and sink in the fantastic views even more:
After maybe 20 minutes it was time to go again! We waved good bye to other walkers and descended to another col - the third Munro of the day, Am Bodach, was waiting!
Shall we go now?...
Yep, let's go!
Stob Ban peeking out from behind Devil's Ridge:
We crossed a couple of lower bumps and finally we climbed the annoyingly steep northern side of Am Bodach - quite a job for our muscles! In a few places it could be classified as an easy scramble, at least by my standards. Tired a bit but happy we touched another cairn - Munro no. 3 ticked!
Resting at the summit of Am Bodach:
Ben Nevis and Sgurr a'Mhaim:
The next peak on the route, Sgor an Iubhair. Strangely it is not a Munro, even though it's height (1001m) would suggest otherwise:
Suddenly, we heard a distant roaring noise - the rescue helicopter was about to land on the very summit of Ben Nevis:
I wonder what happened there, it must have been an accident of some sort. The copter stayed on the Ben for about 10 minutes and then took off and flew away. We returned to admiring the views around us - Am Bodach is, I think, the best viewpoint from all the peaks of Ring of Steall, with the Aonach Eagach ridge well visible:
The next stage of the traverse didn't present a challenge at all. Quick descent to a col and then a short climb to the summit of Sgor an Iubhair:
Looking back to Am Bodach:
Kevin on the top of Sgor an Iubhair:
Me and Sgurr a'Mhaim:
The characteristic shape of Stob Ban:
Distant Fort William:
The Devil's Ridge was now close... I could smell the danger!
Is it going to be worse than the scramble between An Gearanach and An Garbhanach?
OK, let's do it! Desperate to prove I was not a coward, I headed boldly up the path to Devil's Ridge. The first half of it was easy...
...and when I looked back I was stunned by the magnificent scenery...
...but soon the more scary-looking bit came into view. Well, if you've walked that far, panther, you certainly won't stop now!
It turned out to be so easy! What were you afraid of, silly woman??? A few very easy moments of scrambling, with the only really difficult place easily avoidable by traversing just below it. I believe it would be a whole different story in winter conditions or in very windy weather, but not on a bright, dry and sunny day. I stood on the slopes of Sgurr a'Mhaim, staring back at the infamous Devil's Ridge with a hint of disappointment in my heart. Kevin joined me after five minutes, chuckling. Joker!...
The final push to Munro no. 4:
On the top of Sgurr a'Mhaim with a feeling of well-spent day:
Views from Sgurr a'Mhaim:
The final stage of our long walk was the most tiring. We descended the steep slopes of Sgurr a'Mhaim. The upper part of this hill reminded me of Conival/Ben More Assynt experience crossed with the lower part of the Great Stone Chute.
The last glimpse at Ben Nevis:
It's not far now...
Saying bye-bye to Sgurr a'Mhaim:
We finished our trip by walking about 3 km along the narrow track up Glen Nevis where our car was already waiting We managed to complete the whole traverse in about 9.5 hrs, which may not be a world record but gave me a feeling of satisfaction and proved that my everyday workouts weren't in vain.
Please forgive me that I added so many pictures to this report, just couldn't decide which were the best ones!
by incompleat » Mon Jul 25, 2011 3:22 pm
by soulminer » Mon Jul 25, 2011 3:27 pm
Great report and pictures. Have been on all the summits,but never did 'The Ring' itself- another 'to be done' at some time
Time taken doesn't matter, only the enjoyment of it
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by dooterbang » Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:18 pm
Fantastic day to be out yesterday.
I agree with you about the devils ridge
Now that 4 presented no problems it wont be long till your eyeing up bigger routes - Lochaber Traverse next
You should give Stob Ban a go in winter
Well done guys.
by PeteR » Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:29 pm
by Steve B » Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:14 pm
Well done, a good hard route.
by BlackPanther » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:25 pm
I wondered how long will the Devil's Ridge last, how much erosion do hillwalkers cause? I scrolled through Kevin's archives and found a picture he took in 1993 (the one on the right). It doesn't look like the ridge changed that much...
by skuk007 » Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:58 am
by Barnety2000 » Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:18 pm
That photo comparison is intriguing, it really hasn't changed that much at all despite all the wind and rain that must smack into that ridge during bad weather!!