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Anything can happen in the next half an hour.....

Anything can happen in the next half an hour.....

Postby jstalker66621 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Route description: Aonach Beag and Aonach Mor from Glen Nevis

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Beag (Nevis Range), Aonach Mor

Date walked: 18/08/2011

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 16.5 km

Ascent: 1376m

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At the start of this year I had set myself an initial target of 41 new Munro's. Taking everything into consideration I felt that this was well within my reach & would give me a running total of 125 to start off with next year. This latest trip gave me the opportunity to reach and then surpass that target, with many weeks remaining before the weather changes for the worst and the days shorten.

Here follows the true (unabridged) account of one man's (and Jelly McBaby for company) achievements in smashing targets:

The plans were made a few days in advance of departure, targets chosen based on status on this occasion (Aonanch Beag and Aonach Mor were the last two Munro's I needed to complete the top ten) yet we still almost managed to come off the rails before we had even set sail....the accommodation I usually use was full!!! After a few frantic phone calls around the local area it quickly became apparent that there was something on in town as Spean Bridge was chock full of Estonians all week!! Thankfully one of the other B&B's I called had a friend with accommodation about 5 miles up the road on the A82. As this wasn't too far off the track I called and arranged a room...my only concern now was having to undertake a full days assault on the Aonach's without one of Isabel's breakfasts to sustain me.

The day had started with a loooong boring shift at work, tedious to say the least when all you can think about is escaping to the delights that always await up a hill. So consumed was I in these thoughts of routes and summits that it completely escaped my memory that I had taken my friend Graeme into work that day...so as soon as I escaped the shift I jumped in the car and headed off the 35 miles back to Aberdeen without him...only realising what I had done when I emerged from a shower (after the hour driving home and an hour packing my gear into the car ready for Chris to come through and meet me) and found a message on my mobile asking when I was coming back to collect him!!! There then followed the most grovelling of phone calls from me to apologise for being such a forgetful old fool and relief that he had managed to get a lift home within minutes of discovering my treachery from another colleague that stays not far from us...phew. When I relayed this story to Chris I expected more sympathy for Graeme than the huge guffaws of laughter that he emitted...I could not have felt worse. Thankfully this left me very quickly once we headed off on the road to Invergloy...

We arrived at The Heathers B&B late on Wednesday night...following a slow drive down in poor weather...and a chips stop in Kingussie at the Hungry Haggis. After a brief introduction and being shown our room we settled down to fill out our breakfast menu for the morning and a details card for their records. When I returned to the room five minutes later I found Chris in a state of near ecstasy...the docu-drama The Wildest Dream was on the telly. An account of Mallory and Irvine's attempt on Everest, poignantly remembered as Natasha Richardsons final role before her untimely death, real men on real mountains dying for the cause..."because it's there" as Mallory once famously quiped. We watched the conclusion of this and chatted over a couple of beers before making our various phone calls and texts. We had a long day ahead so retired to bed dreaming about the possibilities that tomorrow may bring.......
Baino sorting out his gear at the car in the morning

The first thing the morning brought was an early start, up at seven and all showered and car packed to go ready for breakfast at eight.
The Heathers B&B

We wandered around the grounds and admired the views that were thinking about poking through the lingering morning mist on the far off hills. Unfortunately there was nothing to see...we were straight across from the Loch Lochy Munro's and could not see anything.
Loch Lochy Munro's...somewhere beneath the clag

The midge were up early and started biting almost immediately, so off we scurried indoors to the welcoming aroma of bacon and other cooked delights...perhaps Sheila would be a match for Isabel in the breakfast department?? Chris had decided to brave asking Sheila if she could make up a flask of coffee for him to take on the hills (he had not taken milk with him so would rely on his natural charm to get some from our hosts). In order to do this he complimented Sheila on her home-made shortbread, which was in our room upon arrival, waxing lyrical about how fantastic it was. We were joined at breakfast by a couple in their forties who were telling us of being across here on holiday and travelling through Scotland, full of wide-eyed stories of rising mountains and impressive vistas, and of where they were heading for next. Chris decided that he had broken the ice sufficiently by now to ask them a personal question..."so, I was wondering from your accent, which part of Germany are you from"? To be met by the sternest look imaginable and the immortal utterance "Austria"!!...priceless. We were joined at the breakfast table by another, slightly older, couple from England who were also enjoying this fine land of ours on holiday. The six of us sat round the table and shared an enjoyable breakfast, which was exquisite from Sheila...We bade our new friends farewell and good luck in their travels and headed off to finish our departure routine. When I came down to settle the bill with Ian I was informed that Chris's flask was ready...not only that but Sheila had set aside a (not so) small parcel of shortbread for the old charmer...if he was chocolate he would eat himself!!! A final farewell and off we set on our journey...after a short (ish) pitstop at the commando memorial above Spean Bridge.
Commando memorial

We arrived at the memorial at the same time as a tourist bus, I was under instruction at this point to park quickly before the tourists disembarked and flooded round the statue. We snapped a couple of pics and I headed back to the car, Chris on the other hand took his time soaking in the nostalgia. As he was making his way back to the car he was engaging in conversation with the tourist bus driver (apparently their paths had crossed on previous bus driving jobs) and not paying attention to the footpath...as a result of which, despite my shout of warning, he stepped in some dog mess. Now I wasn't going to allow anything like that to enter my car, thus began the funniest removal technique of excrement from shoe I have ever witnessed...Monty Python would have made a sketch about it if they had bourne witness to the hilarity of Chris wiping and stamping his shoe in a variety of attempts to rid himself of the mess...one of which involved him stamping his foot in the style of a circus horse engaged in a counting trick...the shout of "hey dobbin, tell me when you get to ten" didnt go down as well as I expected!! Eventually tiring of his antics I informed him that there were wipes in the boot of the car...or we would have been there for hours...and off we set again to Glen Nevis and our eventual date with destiny. We drove along Glen Nevis as fast as the road would allow us..taking into account herds of cattle with sharp pointed horns blocking the road and errant sheep wandering out in front of us..until we pitched up in the Poldubh car park. Now, to say that the midge were viscious angry little blighters with teeth like stanley knives, would be an understatement. They were kamikaze midge and we had clearly upset them in a previous life!! We dressed as fast as our lives depended on it and set off along the path into Nevis gorge...let the adventure begin...
Baino at the start of the route into Glen Nevis

The walk through the gorge is, in itself, spectacular...but emerging into Steall meadow and glimpsing the Steall falls takes my breath away each and every time I do it...the mountainous backdrop provides the perfect tonic for any blue you may be feeling...even the thick layer of mist clinging to the rocks couldnt shake the feeling that you are in the midst of something HUGE that has been here since time began.
Steall Falls

There is a good standard path leading the short distance to the Steall ruins...a reminder of times gone by when this land was used for practical living.
Baino trudging uphill from Steall ruins

You then start to rise steeply on a faint path heading up towards grassy slopes which will eventually lead you to the rocky top of Sgurr a Bhuic 963m.
Nevis from Sgurr a Bhuic
Connecting to the grey corries

The views from this spot height are sensational into the grey corries and ring of steall...neither of us quite know why this is not a Munro in it's own right. I can only assume that it does not meet the required drop and reascent between it and the next top??? Answers on a postcard please...

We bumped into a Polish guy on this summit, whose name I could neither pronounce nor remember, who would later join us on Aonach Beag and stay with us for the remainder of the day. It was his first visit to Scotland, he resided in London for the past four years apparently, and he had headed to Fort William for four days of walking in the hills...he appeared to love it as much as we do.

Once at this height the rest of the walk to Aonach Beag involved a sharp descent down rocky shale slopes to a high bealach between Bhuic and the next top of Stob Coire Bhealaich at 1048m...higher than many Munro's but not achieving Munro status due to the proximity to Aonach Beag and the lack of drop and ascent between the two...this one was quite obvious even to me.
First sight of Aonach Beag

Then follow the steep but clear path around the rim of the corrie to reach the tough pull up to Aonach Beag 1234m...if I thought the views earlier were good then these were something else entirely. The mist that had plagued our earlier rise up the slopes had disipated and we were able to appreciate the full vista of mountains around us...the Grey Corries, the CMD and Nevis, the Mamores...out to Loch Laggan, Fersit, Glencoe...fantastic.
Nevis and CMD from Aonach Beag

The view across to CMD and the Arete snaking along to Nevis itself...well worth every second of the four hours it took us to traverse the slopes from Poldubh to here...far better than the walk along from the ski-lifts on Aonach Mor!!

Some pictures were taken on the summit cairn...with the Ben as the backdrop...including Jelly McBaby (often my only companion on Munro treks) atop a pointy shard of rock. Chris refused to let me take any pics of him until he had regained some composure...the hike up had taken a toll and he was breathing through his hoop. He can be so hard on himself at times...by the end of the day we managed these in a respectable time of eight hours...not bad for a pair of fat old lads!!!
A happy bagger
Jelly McBaby on Aonach Beag
Baino on Aonach Beag

Im pretty sure I bored Chris by this point by naming all the Munro's around us and more so highlighting which ones I have climbed...but hey he knows by now what a narcissist I am. We lingered on the summit long enough to refuel with some snacks and let our new Polish friend catch us up...

We met a guy coming from Aonach Mor, via the ski lift, and he informed us that as a route it is boring and would only be taking him four hours, but as his son was biking nearby we let him off cause he was on a limited time frame. The walk from Beag to Mor was less than half an hour along a well maintained path.
Baino on Aonach Mor

Me on the summit

Pictures were taken at the summit (see above) and the route off was checked twice over so that we all knew where to turn off and avoid the worst of the crags. We found the route easily enough and then began the tough descent down loose sand and scree slopes on an angle that felt as though any lean forward would result in a sharp fall.
Being careful on descent

Thankfully this was only for 400 meters and we arrived safely, if not slightly sore kneed, at the bealach between CMD and Aonach Mor at 830m. The remainder of the descent was on gentler decline but through the bogginess that is Allt Coire Giubhsachan, all the way down to the Steall ruins where the outward path is rejoined all the way to the car. Thankfully a breeze kept the worst of the midge off us on the return, until we reached the car again anyway. I arrived back ahead of the troops and set about getting changed out of soaking sweaty clothes...unabashedly removing underpants as folk went about the business of sightseeing, the car park was surprisingly full of tourists all asking where Nevis was...the temptation to say "behind you" was bitten back. When Chris got back he took a more prudish approach to getting changed, using the car and myself as a shield from prying eyes...okay perhaps he wouldn't eat himself if he were chocolate!! After a short spell feeding the many birds that were swooping down on the car, with the last of my cherry scones from my backpack, Chris eventually announced he was dressed and ready to go. We offered our Polish friend a lift back to the youth hostel he had walked in from at seven o'clock this morning...absolute madness if you ask me...which he accepted. I will forgive him the muddy boots in the back of my car...just...but not standing on our package of shortbread from Sheila...that is unforgivable and if I had noticed this earlier he would have been forceably ejected from the car whilst we were speeding round a corner!!

The Hungry Haggis in Kingussie was revisited on the return journey...where I thought a local was foreign as I could not understand a word she was saying to me...apparently she was asking if I wanted a carrier bag for our two suppers!!! Hey it all sounds German to me now anyway...until next time folks...happy walking.....
Posts: 180
Munros:255   Corbetts:6
Joined: Jun 28, 2010
Location: Aberdeen

Re: Anything can happen in the next half an hour.....

Postby kev_russ » Sat Oct 22, 2011 2:48 pm

great report and pics :thumbup:
User avatar
Posts: 388
Munros:137   Corbetts:40
Grahams:22   Donalds:26
Sub 2000:13   Hewitts:8
Joined: Mar 17, 2009
Location: Edinburgh

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