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Sickly Child Gets Halfway on the AE

Sickly Child Gets Halfway on the AE


Postby weaselmaster » Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:57 pm

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

Grahams included on this walk: Pap of Glencoe

Date walked: 14/09/2013

Time taken: 7.43 hours

Distance: 11.1 km

Ascent: 1383m

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The Aonach has been one of those experiences that I have been dreading for years. I remember watching Muriel Gray's Munro Show when it was first broadcast in the 1980s and thinking "Ooh, you'd never get me up there".
When we started going out hillwalking this time last year it still seemed inconceivable that we'd ever really be ready to do this ridge. But a bit of experience gained on the likes of the Forcan Ridge, Ring of Steall and the CMD arete gradually made it more of a possibility. So it was decided that we'd go for it today. If all went well it would mark Allison's 141 Munros - a memorable place to reach halfway.

All week I'd been reading reports and watching video clips of what to expect. And generally making myself anxious. I didn't sleep particularly well on Friday night and had an early rise at 4.30 aiming to get us on the hill before 8am. It was a subdued drive up alongside Loch Lomond, with the only bright moment coming when Bob Marley's "3 Little Birds" came on the stereo...."don't worry 'bout a thing, cos every little thing is gonna be alright" :)

Some think fog coming towards Glencoe, with some lovely misty scenes around the Bookil and various photographers out with full kit to capture it. We got parked in the wee layby just past the Slaver Hoos at 7.30. One other car there. Up the path to Am Bodach, a steady ascent with little bits of scrambling up rocks to get you in the mood. I kept pretending that the narrow path was really a ridge, with steep falls on each side to try and get me attuned to what I expected to meet further up. At least the rocks were fairly dry, and there was no wind to speak of. I didn't say a word in the hour or so it took to reach the top, preoccupied by my anxieties about how the day would go. It was not about having any form of mastery over the mountain - after all the mountain is completely indifferent to whatever a small transient speck does, or does not manage to do. It was about my skills, abilities, nerve, however - did I have what it took?, particularly knowing that once committed to the pinnacled part there was no way of opting out.

?Aonach Dubh from near the car park
Image
P1040300 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View W along Glencoe
Image
P1040301 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Misty Chancellor
Image
P1040304 by 23weasels, on Flickr

As we neared the top of Am Bodach the clag came in. We walked by The Chancellor which was almost completely obscured in the clag. I'd read that the descent from Am Bodach was a good barometer of how your skills would likely measure up - if you were freaked out by that, best turn around and go away with tail between legs. We both found this descent much easier than we'd anticipated, and from that moment on I began to enjoy the experience.

The fun begins :lol:
Image
P1040305 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040306 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040307 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The way ahead
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P1040309 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040310 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040311 by 23weasels, on Flickr

141 for the Sickly One :clap: :clap:
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P1040312 by 23weasels, on Flickr

It took about 45 minutes to reach Meall Dearg from Am Bodach and I can't remember any particularly challenging moments, just enjoying a fine ridgewalk. Allison celebrated her milestone at the summit of MD. It had all been a little easy, and - frankly - underwhelming so far.

This was about to change, and quickly. It seemed to change almost immediately we left the top of MD, with a series of ascents and descents that are well documented in the various reports. Unfortunately the rain had come on by this time meaning that we were going to have the pinnacles as a "wet rock" experience. Ah well - no turning back now!!
Up a chimney was a bit of fun, down slippy greasy rock to dips in the ridge, then up the other side - yes it took concentration but it was engrossing and engaging fun. The motto for the day was "follow the crampon scratches and stick to the crest" which proved a useful approach to take. There were a few parts where the way ahead was not immediately clear, or was up a steep rock face which seemed too difficult at first glance, but there were always holds when you wanted them. Neither of us felt troubled by exposure - which there is a fair amount of :lol: and I guess that was a bit surprising, in a good way.

Image
P1040315 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The chimney
Image
P1040317 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Coming up the chimney
Image
P1040318 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040320 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Wee tight squeeze going thru here
Image
P1040321 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Have I just come down that?
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P1040322 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040324 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Oh Yes!!!
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P1040323 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040324 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Wee narrow bit
Image
P1040325 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040327 by 23weasels, on Flickr

"Never mind jelly legs - I've got jelly arms" :lol:
Image
P1040328 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040329 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040326 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Keep to the crest...
Image
P1040330 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040331 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040332 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040333 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040334 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040335 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Ach the pinnacles are nearly finished :(
Image
P1040336 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040337 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Fun over
Image
P1040338 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040339 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Me on Stob Coire Leith looking particularly deranged :lol:
Image
P1040341 by 23weasels, on Flickr

It took us about 2 hours to get from MD to Stob Coire Leith, although it passed very quickly. Towards the last pinnacle another walker caught up with us and we'd have sandwiches together later at the cairn on Sgorr Nam Fiannaidh. I'd read about a tricky move that needed you to lean out over a drop and I kept waiting to encounter it, but must've been going up the shallow chimney near the end, which was straightforward. I was almost disappointed when the pinnacles were finished - had really enjoyed that experience. Yes, we'd been tested to do more demanding rockwork than either of us had done previously, and for a more concentrated period, but we'd both managed without much difficulty. Allison did crack her already sickly knee a sore one early on in the crossing, which didn't help her much, but no other major injuries were sustained :D

Got up to Stob Coire Leith then along to the second summit, Sgorr Nam Fiannaidh where we had a wee rest and a bite to eat. It was only about 12.45 by this time so we had plenty time to play with and we decided we'd pay a visit to the Pap as part of our descent route - seemed rude to miss it out when we were so near and it would give us a kinder descent path than the scree-littered route to the Clachaig. Off we trotted, meeting a couple of blokes on the way up with big packs - hope they weren't planning on doing the AE ridge :o

On to SnF
Image
P1040342 by 23weasels, on Flickr

SnF summit
Image
P1040344 by 23weasels, on Flickr

3 Sisters
Image
P1040345 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Pap
Image
P1040347 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Rain and cloud had come down for most of the walk over to the Pap, but cleared as we neared the top, revealing a cracking rainbow over Loch Leven. I managed to find some scrambly bits on the way up the Pap, much to Allison's irritation - "haven't you had enough for the day?"...Frankly no, I wanted more :lol:

Image
P1040348 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040353 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Wee bit more scrambling on the Pap
Image
P1040351 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040357 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View down towards Glen Etive
Image
P1040359 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Nice descent path
Image
P1040360 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Having had a look around at the various sights around Glencoe from the top of the Pap we headed down the reasonably easy path that joins with the suggested descent route from the AE and comes out through a barbed wire fence onto the wee road from Glencoe Village. There was only one place we were heading for now! Past the Youth Hostel & the Red Squirrel to that kindly establishment that sells many different types of beer, the Clachaig :clap:
Sat around discussing our experience on the ridge and getting used to the reality that we'd actually done it :)
Ended up having some food there and preparing for the long walk back along the A82 when a kindly fellow WH arrived to join us for a chat and provided a much appreciated lift back along the road - thanks, Kirsty :clap:

All in all a really exciting day and a great way for the Sickly One to mark her halfway status. Now I want to head back to Skye - quite like this scrambling stuff :lol: :lol:
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weaselmaster
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Re: Sickly Child Gets Halfway on the AE

Postby brpro26 » Sun Sep 15, 2013 12:54 am

"Sickly Child Gets Halfway on the AE"....good one I see what you did with the title there.....

Great report on a classic traverse. Probably some of the best photo shots I seen. They capture the technicality of the
ridge and almost put you there. I've read a few reports on the AE and in my opinion this is the best one yet.

Not sure if I was the Sickly one I'd be testing my knee on the AE....

Wish it was me doing it as I wouldn't have to dread my turn coming...

Well done the pair of you.
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Re: Sickly Child Gets Halfway on the AE

Postby The Rodmiester » Sun Sep 15, 2013 9:22 am

Well done the two A's, great report and pictures! :clap: :clap: :D Pity about the wet rock, but you made it look easy! Bring on Skye :D Congratulations Alison for hitting the half way on the AE, GOOD THINKING!
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Re: Sickly Child Gets Halfway on the AE

Postby Valerie » Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:27 am

Well done Allison on not only conquering the fear of the AE but also reaching the half way mark :clap: :clap: :clap: Some of those photos look positively terrifying :shock: :crazy: :shock: Love the rainbow shot, next time I do this I'm definitely adding on the Pap at the end :D
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Re: Sickly Child Gets Halfway on the AE

Postby Mountainlove » Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:57 am

Congratulations on your SC Halfway achievement!!
The photos are amazing...the cloud really adds to the atmosphere . Just decided that I have to do the AE again at some point...its a great walk!! :clap: :clap:
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Re: Sickly Child Gets Halfway on the AE

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Sep 15, 2013 11:15 am

brpro26 wrote:"Sickly Child Gets Halfway on the AE"....good one I see what you did with the title there.....

Great report on a classic traverse. Probably some of the best photo shots I seen. They capture the technicality of the
ridge and almost put you there. I've read a few reports on the AE and in my opinion this is the best one yet.

Not sure if I was the Sickly one I'd be testing my knee on the AE....

Wish it was me doing it as I wouldn't have to dread my turn coming...

Well done the pair of you.


Thanks very much for the nice comments
From my experience, the dread turns to enjoyment really quickly when you're there - I'm pretty sure you'll really love it :D
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weaselmaster
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Re: Sickly Child Gets Halfway on the AE

Postby Collaciotach » Sun Sep 15, 2013 12:56 pm

No bad for a sickly child :clap:

I have been saving these as my last two preferably in Winter obviously with the correct gear and company ..going out with a bang so to speak :lol:

Good report :clap:
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Re: Sickly Child Gets Halfway on the AE

Postby PeteR » Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:18 pm

Well done Alison :clap: :clap: :clap:

A great place to hit the half way marker :D

Excellent photos of this ridge. All looks very atmospheric with the cloud moving in and out. I was the same as you when I did it.......full of apprehension at the start, but discovering it wasn't as bad as I thought at the end. I still enjoyed some butt-clenching moments along the way to be fair :lol:

I was beginning to worry when I read this report. Only the two Munros :shock: It was looking all a little straightforward for the two of you. I was thinking maybe you were going soft on us :shock:.........but then you added on the Pap too, so I realised I needn't have worried after all :lol: And that's another great little hill :D
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Re: Sickly Child Gets Halfway on the AE

Postby Tomsie » Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:27 pm

Not something I want to experience in the wet, will have to be dry again to do it.

Pap was good scrambling up in the snow, but relieved to get to the top :lol:
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