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Am Bodach - against the odds!

Am Bodach - against the odds!


Postby Redrock » Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:27 pm

Munros included on this walk: Am Bodach

Date walked: 30/12/2011

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 10.3 km

Ascent: 1061m

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This was meant to be a round of Coire a' Chairn taking in Na Gruaghaichean, Stob Coire a' Chairn and Am Bodach but the odds seemed set against me from the start! I had kept an eye on the weather patterns for this day for about a week and it seemed that there was going to be a ridge of high pressure over the country - according to most of the weather models. It was only as the week moved on that the high pressure seemed to deflate and things looked less promising! :( I'd checked out the route using other Walkhighlands reports and it all looked do-able for me - even in winter - with the only question mark being over the traverse between the two tops of Na Gruagaichean and possibly the climb up on the north side of Am Bodach. I even sought the advice of yokehead and PeteR on the Na Gruagaichean traverse (thanks guys, I will head there again soon!).

In the end I decided to do the round anticlockwise, tackling Am Bodach first, so that I would have the option of descending by the stalkers path in Coire a' Chairn if the weather turned nasty in the afternoon as was forecast, or if I had problems with Na Gruagaichean. The MWIS forecast on the previous afternoon said light snow before midday and heavier snow in the afternoon - winds south-easterly 15 to 25 mph and later veering south-westerly 30mph with gusts to 45mph. The chance of cloud free Munros was 20% with some break up "near summit levels for a short while before lowering in precipitation later". I reckoned an early start might just allow me to carry out my plan in reasonable conditions and let me get down before the worst of the weather. So it was a 6:30am start from Kinlochleven (it was meant to be 6:00 am but I hadn't slept well due to something I had eaten giving me indigestion and it took me a while to get going! :sick: ).

Anyway, I set off from then Kinlochleven and was soon heading up the West Highland Way in the direction of Fort William.

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On the West Highland Way


My head torch lit the way and the going was good on this well constructed path. It was ideal for walking in the dark but probably not my usual kind of walk - I like slightly wilder routes normally!

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A well lit path!


I was gaining altitude and eventually reached the cairn marking the start of the stalkers' path which runs up the west side of Allt Coire na h-Eirghe towards the corrie below Am Bodach.

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The cairn marking the stalkers' path


I was out in the open now and there was the beginnings of daylight! Soon I could see the shape of the hills around me and looking back I could see the Aonoch Eagach Ridge with both Munros clear of cloud. My hopes of getting a 20% chance were rising!

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Aonoch Eagach in the dawn light!


I carried on and soon I could make out the flanks of Am Bodach rising on my right!

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The flanks of Am Bodach from below


I soon had a burn to cross, and although I had been concerned about the water being high, it proved no problem. It may be that I was now into the snow zone and much of the recent precipitation had fallen as snow up here and so had not filled the burn!

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Crossing the burn


By now I had realised that I wasn't making very good progress. The indigestion I had had all night was still about and had killed my appetite - and it was dragging me down a bit! :( I didn't have the energy but didn't fancy eating much - so I just plodded on - feeling a bit leaden! :sick: The path was proving difficult to follow now in the snow and I was having to find my own route in the snowy landscape at times. However there were hills to climb and I had to keep going.

I found the upper corrie a bit deceptive. It looked like the main ridge was only at about 700 metres from below (although the map said otherwise) but that only proved to be a spur on the east side of the corrie up which the path wound as it made its way alongside a now very frozen burn!

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The frozen burn


I plodded on realising that my hopes of reaching the summit of Am Bodach by 9:30am were long gone. It was already about 10:20am by the time I had reached the ridge between Sgorr an Iubhair and Am Bodach. By then it was snowing, or rather it was a fine hail that was blasting me in the strengthening south-easterly wind!

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Onto the ridge


Turning east up the ridge I was careful to chose a route keeping on snow and away from the steep north side. I hadn't put my crampons on yet and most of the time the soft snow gave good footing. I had to be a little bit careful though - the rocks were covered in thick ice and some were buried under a thin layer of snow - very slippery!

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The ridge towards Am Bodach


Higher up, the ridge became a bit more rocky and I knew I was nearing the summit. I was by now beginning to realise that the whole route I had planned was no longer going to be possible. The weather was closing in and I was making far poorer timing that I had hoped - but I couldn't push myself any harder! :(

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Towards the rocky summit of Am Bodach


The strange thing was that as I approached the summit, despite the apparent lack of visibility (I thought I had been in the clag for that last 400 metres in altitude of so) I could make out the outline of the hills to the north and the valley with Loch Leven below. Does this mean it counted as a cloud-free Munro! (my 20% chance?). It was really the fine hail driven by the wind that was cutting down the visibility!

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The hills and valley to the north of Am Bodach


So then I was at the summit.

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At the Summit of Am Bodach


It was 11:30am and I had a decision to make. Should I go on or turn back and call this a one Munro day? Stob Coire a' Chairn was only a kilometre away along the ridge and I would have the option of descending by the stalkers' path to the east from there. But I knew I was not in the best condition and the weather conditions were worsening still with heavier snow starting to fall. I checked out the climb down from the summit to the north and what would normally be an easy scramble was now an very icy route with a thick layer of ice coating every rock in sight.

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Iced-up rocks!


I would need the crampons and a lot of concentration for that way forward. I made the decision to turn back and return the route of my ascent.

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Returning the same way


It was the safest option and I could even follow my own footprints back - at least until they were obliterated by the deepening snow. I was surprisingly soon back at the beallach where a cairn - which I had noted on the way up - marked the top of the stalkers' path.

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The top of the stalkers path


The descent was largely uneventful - except I managed to stop and eat something a bit more than a snack (and get covered in a couple of centimetres of snow in the 5 minutes I was stopped). And I lost the track again - but only once this time! I descended below the snow line at about 500 metres and by now the rain was pouring down. I glanced back towards the summit and wondered what the snow was like up there by that time.

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A last glance towards Am Bodach


I was back at my lodgings in Kinlochleven by 2:30pm and soon was showered and dry, looking out at the heavy rain still pouring down. Was I disappointed? Yes! I knew it was a long-shot to do the whole round, but in good winter conditions I think I could have done it. I had known that the weather prospects were deteriorating too - but I still hoped to make the best of the day. I didn't reckon with feeling a bit unwell myself - well no more greasy fish suppers the night before a day on the hills in future! :lol: (my appetite's back to normal again now - I'm pleased to say!). However, I have no doubt I made the right decision and am quite pleased with my consolation prize of Am Bodach. I hope to be back at the Mamores again soon - but maybe I'll be a bit more choosy about the weather next time! :lol:

So I have finished 2011 with 112 Munros to my name - not bad considering my target was 100 at the start of the year and I revised it to 110 once the 100 was achieved (I finally had this idea that I would aim for the 40% mark by 31 December 2011 - but I'll have to do with 39.58% now!). God willing I hope to do a few more in 2012 - but I'm not telling anyone my target yet! :lol: 8)
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Re: Am Bodach - against the odds!

Postby Ranger » Sun Jan 01, 2012 12:20 am

Thanks for posting!

The descent north-east from Am Bodach in those icy conditions, without crampons, would have been dangerous - you made a wise choice!

Go back in better weather - the Mamores are just fantastic on a clear day.
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Re: Am Bodach - against the odds!

Postby Fudgie » Sun Jan 01, 2012 12:21 am

I was out yesterday and the change in the weather was noticeable as the day wore on. We also found our footprints from the way up covered.
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Re: Am Bodach - against the odds!

Postby PeteR » Sun Jan 01, 2012 12:36 am

An excellent effort Redrock, but a real shame about the weather. At least you managed the one and Am Bodach isn't a bad pne either :D Pity about the views you had though :( Let's hope you find yourself back on these great hills soon enough and can enjoy them on a clear day. As goes for all of the hills of the Mamores, they are most definitely worth it :D

And as for targets......always best kept to oneself I say.

Here's to a successful 2012 for you and all us crazy walkers :D
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Re: Am Bodach - against the odds!

Postby kevsbald » Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:04 am

Great effort and no disgrace in bagging the one, especially when not feeling great. A supreme M total for a year.
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Re: Am Bodach - against the odds!

Postby yokehead » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:29 pm

Great to see your report. Now having seen the conditions you encountered, and heard about your fish supper ailment :( I can tell what a battle it was, with the clock not adhering to the plans of the day! :) Curtailing the trip sure was the best option.

Well done on your 2011 achievements and all the best for 2012.
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Re: Am Bodach - against the odds!

Postby luckyguy68 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:50 pm

Well done on even getting out of bed with a dodgey stomach. I've taken notes on the 'no disgrace approach to playing safe' when the white stuff becomes a major obstacle. Happy climbing in 2012. :)
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Re: Am Bodach - against the odds!

Postby Redrock » Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:29 pm

Ranger wrote:Thanks for posting!

The descent north-east from Am Bodach in those icy conditions, without crampons, would have been dangerous - you made a wise choice!

Go back in better weather - the Mamores are just fantastic on a clear day.


Thanks Ranger, I'd have put the crampons on and carefully made my way down if all the other conditions were good! But they weren't! :( So I will look forward to better days on the Mamores - I'm looking forward to being there in better conditions! :D

Fudgie wrote:I was out yesterday and the change in the weather was noticeable as the day wore on. We also found our footprints from the way up covered.


There was plenty of the white stuff about that day, Fudgie! and a lot of it was fresh! 8)

PeteR wrote:An excellent effort Redrock, but a real shame about the weather. At least you managed the one and Am Bodach isn't a bad pne either :D Pity about the views you had though :( Let's hope you find yourself back on these great hills soon enough and can enjoy them on a clear day. As goes for all of the hills of the Mamores, they are most definitely worth it :D

And as for targets......always best kept to oneself I say.

Here's to a successful 2012 for you and all us crazy walkers :D


Aye, a safe and successful year to us all! I'll be back at the Mamores, PeteR - maybe see you there! :D Thanks for your advice on the route - I'll use it next time I get the chance! :D

kevsbald wrote:Great effort and no disgrace in bagging the one, especially when not feeling great. A supreme M total for a year.


Thanks, kevsbald, I was glad to make the one. Now I'm looking for some clag free weather (and a better diet!) to make my next Munro trip more pleasant! :lol:

yokehead wrote:Great to see your report. Now having seen the conditions you encountered, and heard about your fish supper ailment :( I can tell what a battle it was, with the clock not adhering to the plans of the day! :) Curtailing the trip sure was the best option.

Well done on your 2011 achievements and all the best for 2012.


Thanks, yokehead, it wasn't my favourite sort of day - but still a great experience and an introduction to the Mamores which has definitely not put me off. And thanks for your thoughts on Na Gruagaichean - they'll not go to waste as I'll be back! :lol:

luckyguy68 wrote:Well done on even getting out of bed with a dodgey stomach. I've taken notes on the 'no disgrace approach to playing safe' when the white stuff becomes a major obstacle. Happy climbing in 2012. :)


Hi luckyguy68, My main aim in mountain walking is actually to enjoy it! :D Sometimes that means pushing a bit to get there - but there still should be some sort of enjoyment (even if it is a bit masochistic!). When the obstacles get bigger than the enjoyment that's usually my time to call it a day! :D But I did enjoy Am Bodach!

Best wishes everyone - and happy walking in 2012! :D
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Re: Am Bodach - against the odds!

Postby Johnny Corbett » Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:41 pm

Good report Redrock, it looks quite earie in the first few photos followed by nice snowy ones. I think i can diagnose your illness. What you have is the Munro bug, no matter how we feel we still feel the need to get one in the bag :D
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Re: Am Bodach - against the odds!

Postby Redrock » Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:47 pm

Johnny Corbett wrote:Good report Redrock, it looks quite earie in the first few photos followed by nice snowy ones. I think i can diagnose your illness. What you have is the Munro bug, no matter how we feel we still feel the need to get one in the bag :D


Fair enough, you've rumbled me, Johnny! :lol: I reckon your diagnosis is correct. I'm already planning then next trip! :D Glad you liked the pics - they're not exactly blue sky shots - but every picture tells a story! :D
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Re: Am Bodach - against the odds!

Postby Bod » Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:12 am

Great report Redrock, I enjoyed reading every word and sharing in your adventure. Like your idea of the lodgings and getting a 6.30am start, especially for this time of year. I was up the north side slopes of Ben More on Mull with Valerie and two other friends the very same day and we were beaten back by rain, winds and blizzards, but had a great time exploring the head of a gulley that we chose for shelter.
As for the Mamores, you will enjoy getting back there again, they are spectacular mountains deserving of many trips.... :D :D :D
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Re: Am Bodach - against the odds!

Postby Redrock » Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:48 pm

Bod wrote:Great report Redrock, I enjoyed reading every word and sharing in your adventure. Like your idea of the lodgings and getting a 6.30am start, especially for this time of year. I was up the north side slopes of Ben More on Mull with Valerie and two other friends the very same day and we were beaten back by rain, winds and blizzards, but had a great time exploring the head of a gulley that we chose for shelter.
As for the Mamores, you will enjoy getting back there again, they are spectacular mountains deserving of many trips.... :D :D :D


Thanks Bod, the early start worked well - it's just a pity that the weather go off to an early start too! I reckon the wild stuff you experienced on Mull was just working its way through to me! :) I'm looking forward to getting back to the Mamores - and hopefully in much better walking conditions! 8)
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Re: Am Bodach - against the odds!

Postby mountain thyme » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:24 pm

well done redrock in managing one munro last week as the weather was hellish.
i know how disappointed you must have felt when you set out to try and attempt more than the one. i walked in the mamores on my todd a year past november hoping to do 3 and it took me 10 hours and only achieved Binnein Beag as i failed miserably on Binnein Mor and darkness was setting in so no chance of getting near Sgurr Elide Mor :(
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Re: Am Bodach - against the odds!

Postby Redrock » Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:40 pm

mountain thyme wrote:well done redrock in managing one munro last week as the weather was hellish.
i know how disappointed you must have felt when you set out to try and attempt more than the one. i walked in the mamores on my todd a year past november hoping to do 3 and it took me 10 hours and only achieved Binnein Beag as i failed miserably on Binnein Mor and darkness was setting in so no chance of getting near Sgurr Elide Mor :(


Thanks, Mountain Thyme, you've got it with the weather last week - it was pretty evil! :evil: I thought I had spotted a weather window a few days in advance - but by the time I made my plans that window had about closed! Still, it's all part of the great tapestry of Munro bagging! :lol: I've had my fair share of good days in 2011 - and I can see from your reports that you have too! All the best for 2012! :D
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