walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter


Postby yokehead » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:15 pm

Route description: Aonach Eagach

Munros included on this walk: Meall Dearg (Aonach Eagach), Sgorr nam Fiannaidh (Aonach Eagach)

Date walked: 18/03/2012

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 7.1 km

Ascent: 1247m

11 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).


g72.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


This is it, the day is here, the AE for me and hopefully not Accident & Emergency. How do you feel before doing this? Excited? Certainly! Trepidation? Indeed! I'd read a bit beforehand and seen a few photos but you won't know what it's like until you do it yourself. I set out at 7.15 on a stunning, cloudless, cold morning. Driving across a still Rannoch Moor I was constantly tempted to stop to take photos of mountains reflected in the lochans, but the lure of the ridge was too great. The Buachaille did make me stop though, the low angle of sunlight clearly showing the east faces, ridges and gullies.
a1.jpg

Glencoe looked as spectacular as ever as I parked at the foot of Am Bodach. No-one else here and just a couple of cars in the main car park down the glen. Where is everyone on this glorious day? I was away from the car at 8.30 on the superb path up Am Bodach where constant photo stops were a must.
a2.jpg

a3.jpg

Great views of Broad Gully on SCNL that I'd climbed a few days earlier and I could see the snow gullies I'd come back down. I soon reached the point where there is a choice of path. The less steep option to the right involved a loss of height though - no thanks! The direttissima gives some mild scrambling as it sneakily threads its way up the ridge, along with great views down the glen. Icy patches began to appear as I reached freezing level, a mental note to look out for later.

Clouds were moving in rapidly as I reached the first cairn and could see the way ahead to the summit of Am Bodach, on the ridge proper now. Getting into a stride now I passed the classic sight of The Chancellor, now feeling that wonderful sense of height. At the summit you can see the way ahead to Meall Dearg but the pinnacles are tantalisingly hidden from view, increasing the sense of expectation.

But first there's the famous climb down to deal with, ok let's see what it's all about. To get you started there's a couple of ups and downs and then you're at the top of the drop. I've seen photos of people facing out and shuffling down the first part almost seated. No no! Face in, look down at the rock, use the plentiful holds, take your time and climb down to the ledge. Walk along the ledge to the end then face in and climb down to the lower ledge. A careful walk along this, duck round the rock at the end and you're down. Brilliant, I do like down climbing though! Looking back up makes it looks worse than when you're on it.
a4.jpg
part way into the down climb, at the end of the 1st ledge, looking back and with the lower ledge on the left

Halfway to Meall Dearg the mists came down and it started to snow. Well, the forecast was for snow showers and I was well pleased to be getting a second wintery day! For a while it came down fast and by the time I reached the cairn at the high point before the dip and following rise to Meall Dearg there was a fair dusting on the ground.
a5.jpg

a6.jpg

The descent from the cairn was in fact the trickiest part of the ridge for me today. The bouldery slope, although with plenty of foot and handholds, was very slippy in the fresh snow.
a7.jpg
the slippiest bit

As I climbed again the clouds shower began to move away and at the summit of Meall Dearg there were superb views to the north and, best of all, atmospheric views of the best section of the ridge to come. I think my timing in getting here was perfect, the mountain gods were doing me proud! The dusting of snow set it all off perfectly.
a8.jpg

a9.jpg

a100.jpg
stunner

I trotted down alongside the old fenceposts (why on earth would these be wanted here?) and there was the chimney ahead.
a11.jpg
the chimney ahead

An interesting climb down to get to the foot of it and a dusting of snow within was a joy. I took it slowly, savouring each foot placement and handhold and moving as smoothly as possible, entirely focused on the moment. This set the scene for the ridge that followed, a time to just revel in the experience, not rushing, making every moment count and being conscious of every move.
a12.jpg
and from the bottom

The delights just kept on coming and I took the route over the top of each pinnacle.
a13.jpg

a15.jpg

a16.jpg

a17.jpg

Near the end was the highlight for me, where paths appear to go to left and right but straight up the pinnacle gave the steepest climb.
a18.jpg
favourite pinnacle

All too soon I was looking at the last big down climb and the way ahead to the end of the ridge.
a19.jpg
the last big descent

a20.jpg
route is along the rocky depression on the left

a21.jpg

On the ascent to Stob Coire Leith the skies cleared completely and I came across 'elephant rock', so sat there for the first proper food and drink stop of the day. Only nibbles on nuts and dried fruit up to now!
a22.jpg
look carefully for the elephant

The sun didn't last for long and there was another snow shower as I approached the final summit of the day, sealing the wintery conditions for my outing. I didn't stay long on Fiannaidh before heading south for the shortest route back to the road. I wouldn't recommend this way, the top scree section is grim, however I wanted to keep the road walk as short as possible. I think I didn't move to the west soon enough, but eventually found the path that leads down to the junction of the Clachaig Inn road and the A82. There were some good views however, as compensation.
a23.jpg
on the scree

a24.jpg

I thought I'd give it 10 minutes to try hitching before walking. Of course, the convoys of cars I'd seen coming along the lane from the Clachaig direction dried up completely and it started to pour with rain. The A82 punters zoomed past, some waving. I was tempted to wave back in a different way. A rescue helicopter flew low and slow down the glen, I tried to hitch from them but they pretended not to see me. But then, just as I was about to don waterproofs and begin the trudge, a little green car screeched to a halt and I got my lift! It was a student returning to Glasgow Uni from his home in The Bill. My great thanks to this gentleman and star, clearly a better class of person.

Just my car all lonely in the layby. I took my time changing the gear and had a bite to eat. Watching the Lochs and Glens bus stop for the views, the passengers getting out then smartly back in again as the cold wind and rain blew up the glen. Continuing dramatic views toward Bidean, changing every few seconds. I sat for a quick reflection of my day, and what a day it had been. A sublime day in so many respects. I must have been the only person on the ridge today.

I was treated to more spectacular scenes as I drove back to Dalmally, I just had to stop as the storm clouds and light continued to bring magic to the Scottish landscape.
a25.jpg
thanks for the swansong
Last edited by yokehead on Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:54 am, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
yokehead
 
Posts: 699
Munros:68   Corbetts:9
Grahams:1   
Hewitts:87
Wainwrights:23   
Joined: Nov 13, 2008

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby kev_russ » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:28 pm

Superb effort and great pics :thumbup: Think i'll leave this one for a clear summers day!
User avatar
kev_russ
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 388
Munros:155   Corbetts:54
Grahams:25   Donalds:26
Sub 2000:13   Hewitts:8
Wainwrights:9   
Joined: Mar 17, 2009
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby ChrisW » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:30 pm

WOW - what an absolute belter Yokehead, not only the ridge but the weather, views, and nobody around to spoil it. You must have been on a real high after that. Another real summer/winter day on the best of hills....stunning :D
User avatar
ChrisW
Rambler
 
Posts: 4940
Munros:18   Corbetts:5
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Jan 25, 2011
Location: Cochrane- Alberta - Canada

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby pollyh33 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 1:07 pm

An absolutely amazing account of the big bad scary A/E :clap: :clap: :clap:

This is by far the best I have read to date, incredibly honest and thrilling at the same time.

I am so pleased for you and glad that you got some sunshine along the way 8)

PS do you think the guy who gave you the lift managed to get a coherent sentence out of you- you must have been buzzzzing!!! :lol:
User avatar
pollyh33
Walker
 
Posts: 2577
Munros:282   Corbetts:18
Grahams:5   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:1   
Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Location: Rutherglen

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby Gable Gable End » Sat Mar 24, 2012 1:27 pm

cracker of a report. I think the weather must have presented some of the harder conditions for the AE. Nothing much to grip and placehold other than slippy bits :lol: A few of the downclimbs must have been "interesting".
User avatar
Gable Gable End
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 568
Munros:64   Corbetts:6
Grahams:4   
Sub 2000:7   
Joined: Apr 28, 2009
Location: Houston, TX

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby Tomsie » Sat Mar 24, 2012 6:04 pm

Great report and photo's.

Looking forward to doing this sometime, but without the snow.

Doesnt look easy well done :clap:
User avatar
Tomsie
Walker
 
Posts: 1162
Munros:121   Corbetts:62
Grahams:38   Donalds:33
Sub 2000:14   Hewitts:5
Wainwrights:1   
Joined: Jan 8, 2011

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby 2dalmatians » Sat Mar 24, 2012 6:07 pm

Best report I have read in months. An absolutely superb narrative, complemented by stunning pictures. Males me want to do it and not do it all at the same time! One thing for sure though, if I do do it it won't be a solo event! :shock: :shock: :shock:
User avatar
2dalmatians
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 341
Munros:38   Corbetts:3
Grahams:2   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:7   
Joined: Aug 17, 2010
Location: Stirling

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby Steve B » Sat Mar 24, 2012 6:29 pm

Top report! The best account I have read on this as it gives the feeling of being on it. Brilliant. :clap:
Steve B
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 286
Munros:254   Corbetts:13
Hewitts:53
Wainwrights:26   Islands:9
Joined: Oct 25, 2010
Location: Glasgow

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby yokehead » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:32 pm

Thank you all for your kind comments on this and my other reports. Yes, the AE was a stunning mountain day in every respect, offering everthing I could have hoped for. I finally managed to do my reports all at once whilst the internet was working where I was staying!

pollyh33 wrote:PS do you think the guy who gave you the lift managed to get a coherent sentence out of you- you must have been buzzzzing!!! :lol:


I was certainly on a big high that even the scree couldn't dampen, nor the rain whilst I waited for a lift! Come to think of it, I was babbling on to the guy, and constantly thanking him for the unexpected lift. He probably thought I was some sort of loon and was glad to get rid of me after just 5 minutes!

I'm back in England now after a great 2 weeks, hope you guys can make the most of the conditions, enjoy yourselves out there.
User avatar
yokehead
 
Posts: 699
Munros:68   Corbetts:9
Grahams:1   
Hewitts:87
Wainwrights:23   
Joined: Nov 13, 2008

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby blanchie » Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:44 am

Steve B wrote:Top report! The best account I have read on this as it gives the feeling of being on it. Brilliant. :clap:



Got to agree with that. Great narrative and superb effort in those conditions.
User avatar
blanchie
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 291
Munros:117   Corbetts:13
Grahams:7   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:5   Hewitts:68
Wainwrights:90   
Joined: Nov 22, 2009
Location: Nr Glencoe

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby davetherave » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:01 am

Most enjoyable report indeed Yokehead. I will try and read up on your other reports sometime soon.

Thanks again Dave.
User avatar
davetherave
 
Posts: 717
Munros:220   Corbetts:88
Grahams:26   Donalds:5
Joined: Apr 25, 2009
Location: Brechin

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby weescotsman » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:19 am

OMG that's a scary one indeed that I might leave for summer.... or never at all. A+E for me would indeed be Accident and Emergency.... :shock: :shock:

Congrats all the same on such an upbeat and positive report......
weescotsman
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 141
Munros:115   Corbetts:7
Grahams:1   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:8   
Joined: Nov 19, 2009
Location: Bo'ness

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby mamoset » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:08 am

Well done on giving a sense of what it is really like on there. Great pics to boot :thumbup:

Chris.
mamoset
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1559
Munros:152   Corbetts:2
Donalds:1
Hewitts:116
Wainwrights:214   Islands:5
Joined: Feb 12, 2011

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby jools » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:33 am

Enjoyed your TR, some stunning photo's even felt a bit of vertigo just viewing them :shock:
User avatar
jools
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 31
Munros:195   Corbetts:71
Grahams:21   Donalds:3
Joined: Oct 26, 2009

Re: Aonach Eagach A Brief Taste Of Winter

Postby skuk007 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:01 pm

Excellent report yokehead. I'm not ready for this one yet but really enjoy reading reports on it, thanks for sharing. Must have been extra special (scary?) knowing you were the only one on such a popular ridge.

Think I'll give that steep decent a miss if possible and head off further towards The Pap before coming down.
User avatar
skuk007
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1419
Munros:44   
Hewitts:8
Wainwrights:16   
Joined: Aug 24, 2009
Location: Bristol

11 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).
Next



Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: coldav, Dave and Dug, JimboJim, Katrina89, lesmagsampaul, lukacz86, Wee Al walking and 79 guests