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#16 - 19; just!

#16 - 19; just!

Postby Tazman » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:41 am

Route description: The Ring of Steall, Mamores

Munros included on this walk: Am Bodach, An Gearanach, Sgùrr a' Mhàim, Stob Coire a' Chàirn

Date walked: 12/08/2012

Time taken: 11.75 hours

Distance: 16 km

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Having booked one week’s holiday in Moidart as step 1, the next step was visit the excellent walkhighlands to determine what hills and walks could be added to the itinerary. The Ring of Steall had a nice ring to it, if you pardon the pun. Reading the reports from other climbers, I wanted to try it though my better half was a bit reluctant, especially with that name tag the ‘Devil’s Ridge’ flashing in front of her eyes. So early on the Sunday morning, off we go and arrive at the parking area at the end of Glen Nevis for a 07:30 start.
Winding our way along the rocky path through the trees, we eventually reach the rope bridge which we had planned to avoid by walking a couple of hundred metres farther upstream as suggested by another report and crossing there, both to avoid the rope bridge (which my better half wasn’t too keen on) and the rocks at the bottom of the waterfall. Thankfully, we were able to cross on the larger stones without taking our boots off as the stream was pretty shallow that day.



Onwards and upwards. Climbing up An Gearanach was straightforward and eventually we touch the clouds before reaching the summit at 10:17. #16 in the bag. Not the fastest climb up by any means but getting there was the first target and we still had a long, long way to go. We had done a couple of doubles before but four was completely unknown as was our chance of completing it. The wind had picked up by this time and with low visibility, it was 50:50 whether to continue, but after a quick Scooby snack and slug of jungle juice, we decided to go on. Navigation wasn’t a problem as we could see just far enough ahead to distinguish between ridge path and certain death either side.



Continuing on to Stob Coire a’ Chairn, the cloud was gradually lifting but with it, so was the wind. Just waiting now for that comment “Ah canny go nae farther” to come at any moment but surprisingly, it never came so on we trudge along the edge of a knife to the second summit. The summit of Stob Coire a’ Chairn was under our feet at 11:45. Normally this would have been a time to get the egg sandwiches and tommy soup out but with the wind now blasting us at 30 mph and a wind chill of 3°c (remember this is the middle of August) as we stepped among the rocks, we didn’t even stop to take a photograph. Still that dreaded phrase didn’t come so we now have that long drop down to the bealach where the wind had dropped back down to a reasonable speed.
Looking back on the climb up Am Bodach, we could not believe we had come over that lot. Don’t fancy doing it anti-clockwise.


The climb up Am Bodach was a bit daunting at times as it just looked so steep in places with rocks everywhere but it was actually easier than it looked. Or so the 2 guys coming the other way told us. Maybe the occasional glance over to Devils Ridge wasn’t helping. However, we reached the 3rd peak at 13:15 and with the wind dying down, the cloud broken and energy fading, it was finally time to break out the soup and have a well-earned pit stop. Bailing out at this point and bypassing Sgurr a’ Mhaim would have been disappointing but an acceptable option having achieved much more than we thought we would and again, that Devils Ridge still looked sinister, daring us to continue. We could always come back another day and bag Sgurr a’ Mhaim from the north but we are here and it’s staring us in the face.
She will… she won’t… she will…


Anyway, with faint heart / fair lady in mind and with one foot in front of the other, we are heading towards it with the weather improving continuously. It’s getting closer and closer and still the phrase hasn’t been uttered. She is doing so well today. How much longer can her courage hold out? Well, we get to ‘the ridge’ and she is still marching on leading the way. Was it hunger, fear, the thought of a celebration drink afterwards, the sun shining down on her (or somebody else) or just true grit? I’ll leave that one open.
We reach the high point of the ridge feeling so happy that we were making progress when we look farther in front and are totally deflated to see somebody wearing a singlet and shorts jogging along the ridge towards us. I kid you not. If you were the guy, I salute you. I wish I was half as fit as you.


Still, we know our limitations and what he was doing is way beyond us and our age. We are just happy to be walking it and getting towards the end. Especially when we look back at where we had come from and what we had come over and conquered.


The climb up Sgurr a’ Mhaim was uneventful with time given at the top for another rest at 15:40.
Looking for an easy way down through the scree was pointless as there doesn’t seem to be any easy way. Just went for it as best we could with knees screaming at us by this point but we manage to get down out the scree unscathed. With energy levels at a low, we saunter along the path heading towards the road not relishing the 1.5 mile crawl back to the car. However, we still have some scoobies left and with the achievement of #16 – 19 added to our tally, our spirits are raised once more. Unfortunately, not the liquid type at this moment.


After what seemed like a lifetime, we reach the car at 19:15 having taken a long, slow 3 and half hours to get down from Sgurr a’ Mhaim and a total 11 hours 45 to complete. Though not a time to brag about, just completing the route was our goal and as we finished within the time frame listed for this route; yes, very pleased with our effort. Once rested and a chance to reflect on what we had achieved, with her heart still somewhere on Devil’s Ridge, my wife was repeating over and over “I can’t believe I did that”, “That was the scariest thing I’ve ever done”. Well, you did it darling so well done. :clap: I’ll get you up the Cuillin yet.
Would I change any part of our plan? Yes, my choice of parking area which left us with a 1.5 mile trek at the end which with hindsight, I would rather have done at the beginning if we had parked where the road bridge crosses the Water of Nevis. We live and learn. If you haven’t climbed this route before, I recommend you do. The views were brilliant (once the clouds lifted); it’s four in one day and if my wife can overcome her fears to complete it, so can you.
Time to drive back to the cottage with visions of a celebration swally waiting for us. Now, with a cycle round the Isle of Eigg pencilled in for the following day, will our knees cope with another battering? Here’s hoping…
p.s. To the dedicated who have climbed this in the winter snow; very, very impressed. We’ll keep the rounded tops for winter (so I’m told).
Posts: 12
Munros:39   Corbetts:9
Grahams:12   Donalds:13
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Joined: Aug 26, 2011
Location: Central Jockland

Re: #16 - 19; just!

Postby Rudolph » Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:52 pm

That's a Great Effort!

Well done both.
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