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Get High And Stay High (Part One - Friday)

PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:41 pm
by CurlyWurly
What better way than to end a week’s holiday than a double header taking in the Ring of Steall and The Five Sisters. My good mate Scott was coming up from Cumbria in his recently acquired Camper Van and we planned to run from Claunie Inn, across the Brothers Ridge, tag on the Five Sisters and drop down into Allt a'chruinn village. When Kev sent me a text asking if I fancied a traverse of the Ring of Steall the day before, how could I refuse?

Now I like to keep things simple. If you are out in the hills, just “Get high and stay high.” So with Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean close by, there just did not seem the point in losing all the height and coming back another day. May as well nail them all in one go. I was up early on the Friday and it was a decent drive to Fort William but with clear skies and the potential of twelve Munro’s to climb over the two days, I was buzzing. Graeme was already at the car park when I arrived and with Kev pulling up shortly afterwards we were soon ready for action.

1. Crossing the wire bridge near Steall Waterfalls.JPG
Crossing the wire bridge near Steall Waterfalls

2. We made great progress up to the first peak.JPG
We made great progress up to the first peak

We headed up the glen and traversed the Steall wire bridge. No mishaps there. Crossing near the Steall waterfall was a different proposition however. The rocks were slippy but fortunately there was no mishap although I did have my camera to hand as Kev crossed, just in case there was another Ben Avon moment ! :)
The climb up to An Gearanach was steep but the path was good and with Kev pacing us, we made good progress. The Ben was out of cloud, the skies looked amazing and it had all the hallmarks for an epic day. We pushed to the summit and the view of the ridge opened up in front of us. Wow, this bad boy looked amazing.

3. Panoramic view of the Ring of Steall.JPG
Panoramic view of the Ring of Steall

4. Panoramic view of the Ben, CMD and the Aonachs.JPG
Panoramic view of the Ben, CMD and the Aonachs

With one peak down our next stop was the Munro Top, An Garbhanach. I love the tops. Some of these subsidiary tops are better than their parents and you hardly ever see anyone when you bag them. Not that this made any difference on the Ring of Steall, there was no option to skip any tops on this route. I cracked off a few pictures and followed Kev and Graeme across the ridge.

5. Heading along the ridge.JPG
Heading along the ridge

6. Nothing like a little bit of exposure to liven things up.JPG
Nothing like a little bit of exposure to liven things up

I will not dwell too much on this section of the walk as both Kev and Graeme have already posted excellent reports. But needless to say, the ridge did not disappoint. We made steady progress and with An Garbhanach ‘put to bed’, it did not take long to bag the second Munro, Stob Coire a’ Chairn and its south top before we headed up to the summit of Am Bodach. There had been significant deliberation about the best approach but when we arrived at the bealach we just headed straight up. The snow was good and there were no problems on the final push.

7. Heading over to Am Bodach.JPG
Heading over to Am Bodach

8. Descending from Am Bodach.JPG
Descending from Am Bodach

We headed along the ridge and up onto Sgurr an lubhair. I looked over to Stob Ban. Should I or shouldn’t I? It was going to add a fair bit of distance to the walk including a double traverse of the Devil’s Ridge but the weather was amazing so it would be a wasted opportunity if I omitted them. Hmmmm. I decided to delay my decision until I had hit the summit of Sgurr a’ Mhaim. I had not given Stob Choire a’ Mhail and the Devil’s Ridge a second thought and did not think it would a big deal. Hey it was just another ridge. I’ve done Crib Goch, Striding Edge, CMD Arete, Aonach Eagach and Forcan Ridge so it couldn’t be worse than any of them. Could it? The first hint that this may not be a walk in the park was when a couple of guys who had motored past us on the descent of Sgurr an lubhair seemed to be making a bit of meal of a section.

“Hey up, what’s going on here?”

I looked ahead then looked at Graham. No words were passed but our thoughts were the same. This was going to be a ‘buttock clencher’. Of course, Kev made it look easy but I will not deny that the bad step part was the most exposed I have felt on a mountain. My technique was not pretty and I suspect I would have received a straight zero for artistic impression but I clambered over the rock safely and finished the rest of the ridge.

9. Kev leads the way to the across the Devil's Ridge.JPG
Kev leads the way to the across the Devil's Ridge

10. Fun and games on the ridge.JPG
Fun and games on the ridge

11. Graham and the ridge.JPG
Graham and the ridge

It was probably only about 200 metres to the summit of Sgurr a’ Mhaim and with the two guys who had passed just before the start of the ridge having kindly left a nice trail of footsteps to the summit, we blasted to the top. That was it, Ring of Steall completed – job done. Kev was tantalizingly close to the big two hundred. It would have been amazing to have hit two hundred on such a great peak but some things are not meant to be.

12. Looking back to the ridge from the summit of Sgurr a' Mhaim.JPG
Looking back to the ridge from the summit of Sgurr a' Mhaim

Kev and Graham were dropping down to the car park but for me, there was unfinished business. I had decided there was no way I was going to miss the chance to knock off Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean but the thought of another traverse of the Devil’s Ridge was about as appealing as scooping out my eye ball with a rusty spoon! I said fairwell to the guys and headed back down to the bealach. We had spotted a ‘bypass path’ to the east of the ridge but that would mean an extra loss of height of about hundred metres. I stopped at the base of the ridge and made a decision. I would take the bypass path instead. Something just did not feel right about re-crossing the ridge.

13. There was a decent path down to the lochan.JPG
There was a decent path down to the lochan

It turned out to be a good decision. I clambered down to the path and made fast progress back to the bealach between Stob Choire a’ Mhail and Sgurr an lubhair. There was no path marked on the map and I was expecting a tough descent into the Coire nam Miseach but there was actually a really decent track that zig-zagged down to the Lochan Coire nam Miseach. The water in the lochan was crystal clear and if it had been warmer I may have been tempted to have a dunk but it was brass monkeys and I had forgotten to pack my trunks anyway! :)

14. The final push to the summit of Stob Ban.JPG
The final push to the summit of Stob Ban

The lochan was at 770 metres so it was only just over two hundred to the summit. The path was decent and there was no snow so I made good progress to the top. I chilled out for a good fifteen minutes on the summit. There was not a soul in sight, I had ticked off five Munros and the views were amazing. What more could you ask for?

15. Panoramic view across to Ben Nevis and Sgurr a' Mhaim from Stob Ban.JPG
Panoramic view across to Ben Nevis and Sgurr a' Mhaim from Stob Ban

16. Ben Nevis had dominated the views all day.JPG
Ben Nevis had dominated the views all day

17. Panoramic view looking over to Mullach nan Coirean.JPG
Panoramic view looking over to Mullach nan Coirean

I looked over to my final peak of the day, Mullach nan Coirean. It looked a little further than I expected and it was now past 4pm. I had better get my arse in gear. I followed the path around the cliff edge and over the two tops and then up the final push to the summit of Mullach nan Coirean. I won’t deny that I was beginning to feel weary now and was happy to have finally put all the climbing behind me.

18. On the summit plateau of Mullach nan Coirean. It is a shame I did not have time to take in this top (Meall a'Chaorainn).JPG
On the summit plateau of Mullach nan Coirean. It is a shame I did not have time to take in this top (Meall a'Chaorainn)

19. Panoramic view looking over to Ben Nevis and the ring of Steall from Mullach nan Coirean.JPG
Panoramic view looking over to Ben Nevis and the ring of Steall from Mullach nan Coirean

Six Munros down, the Ring of Steall nailed, happy days. There was still the small matter of a decent walk back to the car though and right on cue as I started the drop down, it clouded over, the wind picked up and I was bombarded with hailstone. This did not last long though and by the time I hit the plantation, it was blue skies and sunny again. Only in Scotland! :)

Like most walks, it is always a drag back to the car but I was buzzing after what was probably one of the best days I have ever had in the hills. Little did I know, what was in store the next day! Back at the car park, I quickly got changed and drove into Fort William where I was meeting up with my mate Scott.

Scott had recently bought a Mazda Bongo camper van and our plan was to leave my car in Allt a'chruinn village, camp in the van in the car park opposite the Claunie Inn then the following day nail the Brothers and Sisters ridge. It only took an hour to drive up to Kintail and it had not yet gone dark by the time we had sorted the vehicles out. Scott cranked the stove in the back of the camper into action and made a pretty decent chicken curry. It would have been rude not to divulge in a ‘cheeky’ beer considering we were parked directly opposite the inn but we kept it to just the one and by ten pm we were in bed and asleep.


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Continued in http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=20488

Re: Get High And Stay High (Part One - Friday)

PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:43 pm
by Gable Gable End
awesome! aint seen you on here in ages!

Re: Get High And Stay High (Part One - Friday)

PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:04 pm
by skuk007
Great report CW, and cracking photties. Hoping to bag these this summer, but over two days, can't wait. :)

Re: Get High And Stay High (Part One - Friday)

PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:32 pm
by kevsbald
Yeah baby!! :D

Re: Get High And Stay High (Part One - Friday)

PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:20 pm
by brpro26
Great report on a mega day. Have done the Ring thing but reckon you've just up'd the anti by adding Carbon to the Steall and making it even harder. To include the other two is now the new Ring of Steall challenge.
Wish I'd done it that way now. :clap:

Re: Get High And Stay High (Part One - Friday)

PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:40 pm
by monty
Excellent report Curlywurly with a great set of photos. Top effort as well adding the other two munros. Nice one :D

Re: Get High And Stay High (Part One - Friday)

PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:29 pm
by 147cjl
very nice, great report, can't wait to do these. I'm considering a mammoth week taking in Munro's from A9 to fort william late summer, if I'm able!

Re: Get High And Stay High (Part One - Friday)

PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 1:25 pm
by Fudgie
Now thats a walk and a half. Great stuff :thumbup: