Aonach Beag and Aonach Mor and that descent!
by jwramsay » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:06 pm
Munros included on this walk: Aonach Beag (Nevis Range), Aonach Mor
Date walked: 04/06/2012
Time taken: 10.5 hours
Distance: 16.5 km
Ascent: 1376m2 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).
Note that HDR post processing, my new toy, used extensively throughout these photographs, which were all taken using a Nikon D3100 DSLR. This is a plug in for Photoshop CS5 called "HDR Efex Pro" by Nik Software.
Sunday 3rd June 2012, the weather was good, we were on holiday on the Monday and Peter was itching for a double to get him up to the big 50. I decided on Aonach Beag and Aonach Mor in the Nevis Range.
We departed Glasgow at 8am and after a few photo stop-offs had decanted from the car in the Steall car-park at the very end of Glen Nevis at 11am.
Stopped off at Fort William to see the PS Waverley loading for the "Four Lochs and a Whirlpool" tour:
The path through what Peter referred to as the "enchanted forest" is quite rocky but easy going. It passes some superbly eroded rock formations:
It was the first time I'd ventured down to the end of Glen Nevis and I must say what a beautiful area it is indeed. It was not too long until the falls of Steall came into view, with the first and last mamores of the ring of Steall flanking it either side.
An Gearanach, start of the ring of steall:
We pass by the famous wire bridge and follow the river until the wee wooden bridge is reached:
Just past the bridge and before the Steall ruins (which you only really appreciate on the descent!) you swing a left and follow the path on the right hand side of the stream. Ben Nevis and the CMD Arete dominate the view to your left and behind the Mamores open up nicely, with the ring of steall to the West and the four Eastern Mamores to the right:
Ben Nevis and the CMD Arete:
Sgurr A Mhaim, last munro of the ring of steall:
The Eastern Mamores:
At this point a small bird darted right out in front of us, and we easily found it's nest:
Eventually the path peters out (excuse the pun) and heading up the ridge to the right is recommended. A bit of hands on scrambling is required here but height is gained very quickly here and in no time you are up and into the grey stone boulderfield.
Peter anticipating his 50th munro:
Pick your way through this boulderfield (there are long streaks of green grass that you should aim to traverse) until the high Beallach is attained. To the right there is an easy looking sub top of Aonach Beag - this should be ignored! Instead head left and follow the path which bypasses another peak and very soon the summit of Aonach Beag comes into view for the very first time.
That "pointy little fellow" as Muriel Grey calls him is visible from everywhere - Schiehallion:
Binnean Mor, one of the Eastern Mamores:
The Eastern Mamores:
The "Grey Corries" now come into view:
Ben Nevis looks MUCH steeper from this angle, more like I remember that horrible ascent after the CMD Arete:
The views from here are absolutely immense, and we had it clear as a bell, so much so that we could see all the way down to the Paps of Jura. The difference a height of 4000 feet+ makes to the views is amazing, so many hills just coming into view only from the summit - Ben More & Stobinian, Ben Lawers & An Stuc.
Paps of Jura in the distance, Ballachullish horseshoe to the right:
The sheer cliff of Aonach Beag and the remaining snow showing the rock fall that has occurred due to erosion (apparently this is the longest lasting snow in the UK and can stay all year round):
Looking back to the top we'd just crossed and the grey corries:
Summitting the first munro of Aonach Beag really is a was moment due to these views and also the amazing view over to Carn Mor Dearg and the Arete that snakes it's way around to meet the mighty Ben Nevis.
Jim with the backdrop of the Carn Mor Dearg (1220m) linked by the famous CMD Arete to Ben Nevis (1344m).
My last munro prior to this was An Teallach and must say that the multitude of views and the 360 degree views from up here eclipses even An Teallach and the pinnacles.
The summit of Aonach Beag is barren, not rocky like The Ben but no grass, just a litchen carpet.
The Ring of Steall, then Aonach Eagach then Bidean Nam Bian with Ben Cruachan in the distance:
Buachaille Etive Mor middle left with Ben Lui back left and Ben Bhuidhe centre rear:
Grey corries and Easians:
Ben Nevis and the CMD Arete as seen from Aonach Beag's summit:
Peter surveys the way ahead to Aonach Mor:
We headed to the second munro, an easy descent of 500 feet followed by a motorway of a path up the gentle slope of Aonach Mor when eventually the large cairn comes into sight.
Different views from Aonach Beag, Aonoch Mor allows coastal views north to the Cullin's of Skye. In fact, both Eigg and the Rum Cullins were pretty clear today too!
Eigg (flat island) rear left, Rum with it's own Cullins centre rear:
Cullins of Skye in the distance, under the lower cloud:
Pair of Cullins - Rum (back left) and Skye (back Right):
Looking back to the previous summit, with the couple we met on Aonach Mor - Aonach Beag:
At this point we had our dinner whilst overlooking the chasm between here and Carn Morn Dearg's ridge. We were putting off the descent, as the drop to the valley below looked rather steep.
Carn Mor Dearg (the red mountain) and Ben Nevis:
The secret to finding the descent path is to ignore the main path and head along the top of the Aonach Mor until the little cairn is encountered which marks the start of the descent path. As a guide, its opposite the spur of Carn Mor Dearg as you could start climbing up this as soon as you reach the bottom. The path is obvious due to the erosion and is quite relentless but never difficult or exposed. Get your poles out and take your time, you'll get there in the end. Compared to An Stuc in the Lawers range, this is a walk in the park! I'd imagine ascending here would be easier than descending mind you. And obviously ice would change things significantly.
Cairn that marks the start of the descent route:
Looking back up the 1100 feet descent:
DO NOT DESCEND FROM THE LOWEST POINT BETWEEN THESE TWO MOUNTAINS!!! - I can tell you looking back up to the high Col between Aonach Beag and Aonach Mor that would be a very bad move indeed, it's just too steep lower down.
According to my trusty altimeter watch, the drop was from 3700 feet at the wee cairn at the top of the patch until the safety of the valley floor at 2600 feet, so 1100 feet.
We encountered a tent with a view:
More descent and following the meandering river for a while and then descent again. Some of it was really boggy despite the recent hot weather. I managed to avoid getting wet boots or wet clothes.
The long walk out:
Lower down, the river meanders through the flat valley:
Looking back to Aonach Mor (serious HDR used here):
The high beallach where the tents were pitched in the centre here:
Looking back up to Ben Nevis and the end of the CMD Arete:
Aonach Beag reflection:
The mamores dead ahead:
Peter taking in the view over to Binnein Mor:
The mamores in the lovely evening sunlight:
We were back at the Steall waterfall in no time, a nice evening trip through the enchanted forest and back at the carpark for 9:30pm, so I made that 10.5 hours to catch this pair. Yes I'm slow, but I savour the hills, taking lots of pictures and video.
Congratulations to Peter on attaining the big 50.
I got home for 12:30am the next day, so a 17 hour trip to catch these guys!
Video of the walk in 1080p shot using Panasonic camcorder:
by skuk007 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:36 pm
Very good timing for me as I'm hoping to do a lot of these hills next month, being able to see the actual lay of the land in your video is a great help to me visualising them in my head, thanks.
Congrats to Peter on the 50.
by Peter913 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:58 am
by ChrisW » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:03 am
by jwramsay » Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:15 am
ChrisW wrote:Love this JW, great info in the main report and a nice emotive video too, that breathing at 9m50s sounds like me...........for my entire journey Really enjoyable report, congratulations to Peter on his 50
Yeah, same here! Over 40 + overweight!
by skuk007 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:21 pm
Love the "Aonach Beag Reflection" one especially.
by jimandandrea » Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:25 pm
by jwramsay » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:04 am
skuk007 wrote:Some cracking photos, they weren't there first time I read this report.
Love the "Aonach Beag Reflection" one especially.
Yeah, took me 2 hours yesterday morning to process the photos, I like to do the trip report as soon after the trip as as I can as it's fresh in my mind.
Thankyou for your kind comment on the reflection photo.
by Ranger » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:16 am
by mr_ash_37 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:49 am
Grt camera, got the same one recently and still getting to grips with it. Any advice welcome as always.
Cheers for advice on HDR