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Cheating the Aonachs

Cheating the Aonachs


Postby Silverhill » Thu May 01, 2014 9:22 pm

Route description: Aonach Beag and Aonach Mor from Glen Nevis

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Beag (Nevis Range), Aonach Mor

Date walked: 13/06/2013

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 9.4 km

Ascent: 761m

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Aonach Beag and Aonach Mor.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I’d had an easy day yesterday with Stob a’ Choire Mheadhoin and Stob Coire Easain. Nevertheless, today I wasn’t feeling it. No mojo. Heavy, tired muscles. The pains and strains of 12 consecutive days of munro bagging.
A sensible person would have taken a day off, done a low level amble or (shock horror! :shock: ) gone for some retail therapy in Fort William. Whereas I dragged my body to the car and drove to the Lochaber ski centre to bag the Aonachs.

From the car park, the start of the walk is far from obvious. There are numerous paths. All seemed to be MTB trails though, according to the abundant ‘Keep Off’ signage present. Had I had a bit more energy I probably would have just picked one of them and gone for it. As it was, I couldn’t decide and dithered around aimlessly, wasting time. Then the answer came, literally from above: the gondola! A bit naughty but really perfect for the state of my legs. It wouldn’t start operating for another hour. So I went back to the car and had a snooze. It was going to be a lazy day! :wink:

Having never been on a ski lift, my oh my did I enjoy the ride! The trip lasted a good 10 minutes, so there was plenty of time for enjoying the views, snapping pictures and waving to the passengers in the other carts :roll: . Simple souls are easily pleased.

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The ride up

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View towards Loch Eil

Whereas it had been sunny and warm at sea level, it was notably colder once out of the gondola. Jacket, hat and gloves on, ready for the rest of the ascent, which was a straightforward plod up a uniformly steep slope, roughly following the line of two ski tows.

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Looking back to the gondola station

Once on the summit plateau visibility was significantly reduced, which didn’t bode well for finding the cairn. According to the map it was a 1km walk to the summit. So after 12 minutes I should be near it and keep my eyes peeled for anything resembling a cairn looming up from the mist. Start the clock.

After a while the cloud shifted, yay! Revealing not only the summit, but also the CMD arête and the Grey Corries. Lucky me! There were clear views of the steep east ridge leading to Carn Mor Dearg, an alternative route for this hill and the Ben, when approaching them from Glen Nevis. Maybe my route next year?

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Summit Aonach Mor

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View towards the Grey Corries

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View towards Aonach Beag

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Carn Mor Dearg

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Carn Mor Dearg, arete, Ben Nevis

On the descent towards Aonach Beag the weather changed. It got colder and the wind whipped up. Once on the 1080m bealach it had turned into a completely different day. It was freezingly cold and I really wanted to put on a fleece underneath my jacket. But no way was I going to take my jacket off in this icy wind. With chattering teeth I continued up Aonach Beag, hoping that the ascent would warm me up.

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Looking back towards Aonach Mor

On the summit there was a lull in the wind, so on went the fleece. That sorted, I made the most of walking through the snow field, taking pictures of the surrounding hills and admiring the blue-green crevasses in the snow.

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Ben Nevis, CMD arete and Carn Mor Dearg

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Looking along Glen Nevis

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The Grey Corries from Aonach Beag summit

I returned the way I came. Being better dressed for the conditions I sauntered back whilst marveling at the CMD arête and the wild country to the east of Aonach Mor. Then it was down the slope along the ski tows, a hot chocolate in the café and a fun ride back to the car. A brilliant day! :D

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Fun ride back
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Re: Cheating the Aonachs

Postby GillC » Thu May 01, 2014 9:26 pm

Fab,,nice to see you listened to your tired body and took the gondola,,,"been at the top" or "climbed from sea level" does it really matter lol :clap:
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Re: Cheating the Aonachs

Postby Silverhill » Thu May 01, 2014 10:19 pm

Ah thanks Gill, that is very kind! :D I was bracing myself for comments about my non-purist approach of these two. :lol:
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Re: Cheating the Aonachs

Postby AnnieMacD » Thu May 01, 2014 10:23 pm

I can't believe you did 12 consecutive days - whew. You deserve a gondola ride and it looks like a great walk. Your pictures really give a feel for the weather.
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Re: Cheating the Aonachs

Postby mrssanta » Sat May 03, 2014 10:23 am

And isn't it great when the cloud lifts just at the top.
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Re: Cheating the Aonachs

Postby PeteR » Sun May 04, 2014 10:33 am

The view I had of CMD, the Arete and the Ben from these two on a crisp winters will stay long in the memory :D
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Re: Cheating the Aonachs

Postby Silverhill » Mon May 05, 2014 1:08 pm

AnnieMacD wrote:I can't believe you did 12 consecutive days - whew. You deserve a gondola ride and it looks like a great walk. Your pictures really give a feel for the weather.

Thank you Annie! You will love this walk when you do it, the views are just stunning. 8)

mrssanta wrote:And isn't it great when the cloud lifts just at the top.

Cheers Mrssanta! It does happen, clouds disappearing just before you get to the summit and I felt very lucky indeed!

PeteR wrote:The view I had of CMD, the Arete and the Ben from these two on a crisp winters will stay long in the memory :D

Thanks PeteR! The pictures don’t do justice to the views, but I have an excellent photographic memory for occasions like these! :D
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Re: Cheating the Aonachs

Postby dogplodder » Mon May 05, 2014 1:19 pm

Great idea for getting to the top of these two and nothing to be ashamed of. There are lots of lazier ways you could have spent the day! 8)
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Re: Cheating the Aonachs

Postby rockhopper » Mon May 05, 2014 3:34 pm

Good to see that you got the views from the top - like you, I also found it very cold up there even though it was in June despite an extra layer. The MTB trail is quite a useful way to get up high - used them myself but had to leave very early before anyone was on them ! - cheers :)
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Re: Cheating the Aonachs

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Mon Jan 11, 2016 2:45 pm

Hi, noted that you said in this report "the steep east ridge leading to Carn Mor Dearg, an alternative route for this hill and the Ben, when approaching them from Glen Nevis. Maybe my route next year?"

Did that a few years ago from Glen Nevis (i.e. Aonach Beag, then Aonach Mor, then down to the col, then up the east ridge of CMD to the top, and then along the arete to Ben Nevis.)

A superb route with spectacular views - highly recommended if you are in that area. I was extra lucky and had a cloud inversion, all the peaks looked like islands rising from the mists. One day I'll get round to posting up that and other TRs!

Only downside was descending the steep south side of the Ben at the end. Getting on for 4000ft of steep rough slope. Now I have a metal knee I will not be doing that descent route again!
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Re: Cheating the Aonachs

Postby Borderhugh » Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:30 pm

Forget the purists (who drive to the mountains), taking the gondola after a mammoth number of days in the hills seems a sensible option. Its a long slog from the car park up to the Aonachs. We did it in August. Had the views until we got to the top when it clagged over.
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Re: Cheating the Aonachs

Postby Silverhill » Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:17 pm

Thanks HMHT and Borderhugh for your comments. I can’t believe this is already more than two years ago. Feels like yesterday!

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:Hi, noted that you said in this report "the steep east ridge leading to Carn Mor Dearg, an alternative route for this hill and the Ben, when approaching them from Glen Nevis. Maybe my route next year?"
Did that a few years ago from Glen Nevis (i.e. Aonach Beag, then Aonach Mor, then down to the col, then up the east ridge of CMD to the top, and then along the arete to Ben Nevis.)
A superb route with spectacular views - highly recommended if you are in that area. I was extra lucky and had a cloud inversion, all the peaks looked like islands rising from the mists. One day I'll get round to posting up that and other TRs!
Only downside was descending the steep south side of the Ben at the end. Getting on for 4000ft of steep rough slope. Now I have a metal knee I will not be doing that descent route again!

I did Ben Nevis from the North face car park the year after. I had looked at the approach from Glen Nevis, but decided it was too steep. Your route sounds like an epic! 8)

Borderhugh wrote:Forget the purists (who drive to the mountains), taking the gondola after a mammoth number of days in the hills seems a sensible option. Its a long slog from the car park up to the Aonachs. We did it in August. Had the views until we got to the top when it clagged over.

Shame you didn’t get the views when you got to the top. A reason to go back!
The penultimate day of my bagging sprees is always the hardest. But I still haven’t learned to take a day off. :lol:
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