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The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:22 pm
by PeteR
Or should I have called this “Stuart’s revenge” :lol: :lol:

Or even “How many sweary words can a boy say on a single walk?” That’s an easy answer – just the one, but he said it plenty times :lol: :lol:

I know there are lots of excellent reports on this “classic”, but even so here is my contribution to the Walk Highlands Aonach Eagach annals :D Before going any further though I should say that despite perhaps being less than eager at the outset this was one Hell of a day 8) :D Perhaps up there as one of the best days I have ever had in the hills so far, despite a few less than comfortable moments having me step out of my comfort zone. While a bit of mild scrambling is perfectly acceptable to me the Aonach Eagach would be taking me into a whole new world :D :D Despite some uncomfortable moments I wouldn’t want a big girl’s blouse like me to put people off the ridge. It really is superb. I was glad to be doing it with company though.

My friend Stuart joined me on the walk, having persuaded me it would be fairly straightforward overall - he’d done it twenty years or so ago and a recent text to his friend he had done it with back then suggested “it’ll be a piece of p**s” :lol: :lol: Yeah, right :lol: :lol:

I’d already bagged both Munros in two separate visits. Now it was time to pick off the bit in the middle :thumbup: I was experiencing a mixture of fear, apprehension, excitement and expectation as we headed north. Would this iconic ridge be everything I had hoped for or everything I dreaded :think:

It was a nice early start, setting off from the parking area just before 8 up the leisurely path to Am Bodach – as all who have gone before me know, relentless is too kind a word to describe this climb :lol: :lol: We certainly got warmed up nice and quick that’s for sure :shock: And Stuart could get accustomed to my huffing and puffing up the steep bits :lol: :lol:
Easy walking up onto Am Bodach!

The good thing was, there were some good views opening up down the Glen and toward Bidean nam Bian to keep me occupied and give me excuses for a “photo opportunity” at regular intervals :wink:

At the fork in the path we had a choice of right, via the longer, probably less relentless path up into Coire an Ruigh or left via the full frontal assault up the fro not of Am Bodach. We chose the full frontal assault :lol: Some nice early scrambling practice as an aperitif before the main event :D

Arriving at the summit of Am Bodach and the breeze was certainly “keen”. Keen enough to make us think that doing the ridge might not necessarily be a good idea. Luckily ( :shock:) the breeze soon died away, leaving the assault of the ridge well and truly on :D

And then there was the Chancellor :D :D
The Chancellor

Obviously we thought about heading down to get a closer view, but decided not to bother (this time) as we had other taxing issues on our mind :lol: :lol:
A bit of cloud shrouding the ridge

Cue first buttock clenching moment of the day :shock: :shock: And the start of the serious sweary words :lol: If my mother were still alive she’d have been washing my mouth out with soap and water :lol: The descent down off Am Bodach :shock: Can’t say I enjoyed every moment of it at the time – one of the features of this ridge is just how polished the rock has become with the 000’s of feet (and bums :lol:) that have traversed it. I found the lack of grip a little unnerving and at times was out of my comfort zone in places coming down off Am Bodach. At the same time it was a perfect adrenalin injection for the rest of the route and I was certainly up for the rest of the route once I was down and on the way to Meall Dearg :thumbup:
Am Bodach descent

Stuart on the descent off Am Bodach

Silhouette on Am Bodach

Looking back from the bottom it was jaw dropping to think what we had just come down :shock: :D This was a view that we both kept stopping to look back at as we headed out along toward Meall Dearg :D
Have I really just come down that?

Meall Dearg was next. Strange, but the two Munros on this route are something of a side show really; almost inconsequential when compared to the ridge :( You almost forget they are there.
View ahead from Meall Dearg

And so began the ridge proper :D I took too many pictures to fit on a walk report, and my little point and click jobby can’t ever do justice to the magnificence of the ridge and the scenery unfolding both ahead and behind :lol:

Well, even a big girl’s blouse like me couldn’t fail to enjoy the overall experience of the ridge. From the start up the chimney all the way through to the start of the Crazy Pinnacles the walking was just excellent :D :D :D :D With the odd “moment” here and there of course having to come down off polished rock :lol: Despite the rock being well polished (Stuart tells me throughout the walk that this is a good thing, as it proves others have been before us :think:) all the way along the ridge the handholds were excellent. A great help in building my confidence :D And we took our time as well. Not a ridge to be rushed and not a ridge to have a slip either :shock:
View up the Chimney

And view down the Chimney

A bit of calm on the ridge before some stormy, exciting, pinnacles

Up pinnacle

And down the other side

By the time we were arriving at the Crazy Pinnacles the affect of the adrenalin rushes were definitely wearing off. The legs were beginning to get a bit weary as we came to buttock clenching moment #2. The Crazy Pinnacles. Seems the pinnacles leave the best to last :shock: :lol:
Crazy, crazy pinnacles

Some more fun we had descended

We found ourselves staring at a wall of what appeared to be impregnable rock in order to top out on the last pinnacle :shock: I’d read that the correct route is up and over, although this did not look appealing in any way :shock: So doubts set in. Stuart didn’t remember this bit of the route and so we ended up attempting the bypass path to the right :shock: But this soon became pretty terrible, so we headed back up to the ridge. At this point we were joined by another chap. He was quite open in admitting his legs had turned to jelly by this point, and the prospect of the manoeuvres we appeared to have in front of us weren’t helping him much :shock:

As the three of us contemplated lour next move a fourth chap joined the throng. He’d done the ridge some years back and openly admitted he didn’t remember this bit either!!!!!!!

So there we were. Two guys who had done the ridge before didn’t recognise this bit of the route. Another had legs of jelly and was clearly not too happy. And then there was me.......the scrambling “big girl’s blouse” :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Buttock clenching, but exhilerating once it was over

Eventually I did something quite out of character. I certainly wasn’t having a big yellow chopper rescue us off the ridge, so I decided to go for it :thumbup: Probably the most exposure I have ever had on the hills. When all is said and done though it was only a short section, but the contents of the swear box were certainly swelled as I made my way across :lol: :lol: I think Stuart was a bit shocked, as he seemed most concerned that this was the route and I wasn’t just going to end up stuck in a “place of no return” :lol: :lol:

Once I’d stepped up onto the rock it was a short drop down onto a postage stamp sized piece of dirt (well ok, a bit bigger than a postage stamp, but not by much :lol:). Then a slab which had me on hands and knees to get across (no way I was standing up at that point :lol:) and then a short, one step, exposed ledge :shock: And that was it :lol: :lol: All that was left was an easy scramble to the top of the pinnacle, where I could tell the two chaps who had joined us that there was nothing to worry about - well, except for......and then there was...... oh, and not to forget.......... :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Looking back to our two new companions waiting to hear how we found it

It all looks so benign from this angle!

A short scramble, before the fun really began for me!

So, nasty piece of exposure over and all troubles were behind us :lol: :lol: Cue buttock clenching moment #3 :shock: More nasty, polished rock to navigate in order to get to a point where all trouble really was behind us. And more money into the sweary-box-type-thing’s coffers :lol: :lol: At this point we were a group of four and I was happy to make sure the chap whose legs had gone was down off the worst of it safely!! Once down we then became a group of two as the other chaps set of ahead of us.
Buttock clenching final descent off the pinnacles

A slightly different angle

Still doeasn't look any better from this angle

Having navigated the last of the nasty stuff we had the climb to the top – Stob Coire Leith. Once over the initial climb this is a super stroll to the cairned top.
Ah, that's more like it. Normal hillwalking resumed

My new laptop wallpaper

Then came the second Munro – Sgorr nam Fiannaidh where we stopped for a breather and something to eat. While sitting there the guy whose legs had gone returned. He was wondering what route we had planned to go down. He’d attempted the scree slope and decided it wasn’t for him. Clearly the Clachaig gully was a “no-no”. The only alternative that I was aware of, adding both miles and time was to pick up the path from the Pap route and make our way down that way. Not ideal, but from a safety point of view sensible under the circumstances. We kind of walked with the chap to the point where we joined the Pap path and the final section to the road. Although we went ahead looking back I could see the chap was making steady progress, so was happy all was well.
Loch Leven - not a bad view for the walk down to the road

By the time we were back on the road it’s fair to say limbs were sore as we headed toward the Clachaig and a well earned drink and bite to eat. One of the best pints I have ever drunk :thumbup: :D The Squirrel’s Nuts....or was it Red Squirrel? Dunno, but it was good :lol: :lol:

After that, all that was left was the walk back through Glencoe to get back to the car :shock: Thankfully we were refreshed (if a little stiff) from our stop at the Inn and there’s a path away from the main road we could walk on, so progress wasn’t too bad. And we had the full length of the Aonach Eagach to keep us company on our way :D

All in all a fantastic day :D :D :D Serious scrambling is not something I’m totally comfortable with and there were moments when I was well out of my personal comfort zone on this ridge. But I’m glad I was persuaded to do it and the sense of achievement for me is massive. Maybe the Inn Pinn is doable after all :think:

Two days on though and my body still aches like Hell, but hey-ho it was worth it :D :lol: :D :lol: :D :lol:

Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:28 pm
by robertphillips
well done pete, awsome walk brings back great memories. 8)

Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:28 pm
by PeteR
I should mention - there are other mountains to enjoy on this walk :lol: :lol: :lol:

Here are a few of the pictures I took of them on the day :D












Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:30 pm
by PeteR
robertphillips wrote:well done pete, awsome walk brings back great memories. 8)

Thanks Robert. Think it will last long in my memory too :D Thought I'd never have the nerve, but so glad I did it :D

Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:35 pm
by pollyh33
Smashing stuff Peter :clap:

I don't think there can ever be enough reports on the A/E (not a coincidence!) ridge!

I loved doing this walk. When you're dealing with what's immediately in front of you, its not until you look back you think 'Jeezo, I've just come over that' :crazy: :crazy:

Congratulations, you can now through the big girl's blouse in the bin!!!!

Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:40 pm
by PeteR
pollyh33 wrote:Smashing stuff Peter :clap:

I don't think there can ever be enough reports on the A/E (not a coincidence!) ridge!

I loved doing this walk. When you're dealing with what's immediately in front of you, its not until you look back you think 'Jeezo, I've just come over that' :crazy: :crazy:

Congratulations, you can now through the big girl's blouse in the bin!!!!

Thanks polly. Stuart and I had that "Jeezo" feeling quite a few times on this one, although my word of choice for most of the day didn't begin with the letter J :lol:

Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:09 pm
by Scotjamie
Nice one Pete - very similar to (though better than) my own TR and experience of the AE.
I like to think that it is more impressive to read about blouses (such as we) managing this ridge rather than reading about boulder hopping heroes. A great accomplishment. :clap:

Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:27 am
by rockhopper
Well done Pete :thumbup: - great photos and great detail as well - have yet to get to these two and am still worrying about it :roll: - cheers :)

Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:02 am
by soapy27
Nice one Peter good bit of in depth detail about the ridge still got this to do hopefully next year :shock:

Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:15 am
by madasa mongoose
Brilliant! Really enjoyed reading that :D Haven't climbed this route in a while but recall several butt clenching moments (no swearing mind, I'm a lady :wink:). Well done all!! :clap:

Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:24 am
by Mountainlove
Congratulations of manging your fear and doing the whole ridge...I guess it is something one can do again and again:-) Loved the report as well and had some laughs :clap: :clap: :lol: :lol:

Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:27 am
by EwaMH
Awesome report and photos, a really good read, not least because I might be giving this a shot in the near future so it's good to red a recent account...what are your (or anyones) top tips/manoeuvres?

Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:30 am
by lomondwalkers
Brilliant stuff Pete!!! Always good to push your limits. I was also a bit nervous about this one, then in late April on a blue sky day as I was heading for the Mamores, something mental happened, I spotted the ridge looked clear of any snow and thought 'Feel the fear and do it anyway!!' :lol: So glad I did, what a thrill, even been back for a wander onto the Chancellor. It really is a thrilling walk. I think I was that tuned in on the exposed bits that I didn't really notice them too much. Now if only I can talk my walking buddy into it... :lol:

Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:53 am
eek! ..meant to be doing this in a couple of weeks if weather good ..polished rock sounds sketchy ..would there be any advantage wearing trainers over bulky boots do you think?? :shock:

Re: The “Er......not so eager” ridge

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:25 am
by Fudgie
Excellent stuff Pete and the terror (at points) really comes through :lol:

I think when I come to do these (probably next year) I'll definitely be looking to go with someone who has done it before. I like a scramble but having heard a real horror story about this one I'll be playing it safe.