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Update to the Scrambling CV - Aonach Eagach!

Update to the Scrambling CV - Aonach Eagach!

Postby IanEzzi » Mon Sep 14, 2015 12:04 pm

Route description: Aonach Eagach

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

Date walked: 13/09/2015

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 9.5 km

Ascent: 1100m

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This isn't an attempt at a thorough walk report, there are plentiful great reports already on here so I'll leave it to the experts! 8)

What I thought might be useful for others is an idea (obviously very subjective!) of how/when you might be ready to enjoy the Aonach Eagach, especially if like me you're a confident hiker but unsure of your tolerance for exposure.

I've been enjoyably and gradually working through lower grade (grade 1, or less!) scrambles in the last couple of years and to date had done the following, in a rough order of 'severity':

Five Sisters
Ring of Steal
Grey Corries
Rois Bheinn Ridge (taking everything as direct as possible)
Suilven (summit, not East ridge)
Stuc a'Chroin NE buttress
An Stuc NE face
The Cobbler (two bottled attempts after threading the needle, one early in my hillkwalking days and one in a driving hailstorm!)
Carn Mor Dearg Arete
Mullach Fraoch Coire (scrambling over towers rather than bypassing)
Long Leachas (Ben Alder)
NE Ridge of Binnein Mor
Schoolhouse Ridge (Beinn a'Bheithir)
The easier Arran Ridges (coming off A'Chir before the Bad Step and not including the Witches Step)
Stac Pollaidh (lots of optional tricky bits but not the crux).
Caerketton Crags, Pentlands 8)

I realise many aren't actually considered scrambles but I have seen people referring to them as such so they seemed like useful references.

Anyway, having done all of the above and always enjoyed messing about on any little outcrops I could find on hikes, me and my friends took on the Aonach Eagach on Sunday.

We were a mixed group although I was confident everyone had a sensible head on them, even if some of us were unsure how scary we would find it. Everyone had some experience with scrambling even if only one or two scrambles prior to this!

The conditions were glorious although we knew there was potentially rain coming in, and there was a cold wind blowing.

We reached the summit of Am Bodach and approached the first down climb, some of us recalling that this was supposedly one of the worst bits. Once we were all at the bottom there was some bemusement, was that all? Good fun scrambling but really didn't seem like that big a deal. This theme continued, all of us wondering when it would get genuinely scary etc. (to be clear, we were all loving it though, such a great route).

Me chimney.jpg
One of the first chimneys

I remembered reading about a scary down climb near the end, and also wondered where the dubious pinnacles with the tempting bypass would appear. Eventually we reached that point, and I could start to understand some of the scare stories. The groups ahead of us had all chosen the bypass route and were standing lower down scratching their heads at an eroded, slippy and nasty looking section on the path, apparently the scene of some accidents in the past. We had sent our crack rock climber ahead of us just to make sure the direct route across the pinnacles was sensible (it was) so we got on with it, some concentration required and not too much looking down but generally straight forward and still great fun.

everyone pinnacles.jpg
Congestion on the crazy pinnacles

Me pinnacles.jpg
The exposed bit

At this point the rain started and the remainder of the ridge was only made tricky by the long slabbly downclimbs in the wet, this slowed us down a little and required a bit more concentration. We also decided to commit to the 'direct' route up one of the longer chimneys despite the groups in front taking an easier looking bypass. The bottom of this chimney required a couple of committed pulls on good holds to get into the chimney, but the exposure was minimal so everyone got up fine.

We finished the walk in great spirits but then managed to lose the good descent path in our eagerness to stay away from the grazing land that one of the guidebooks warns you away from, cue a muddy cow track through the ferns back to the track at the bottom :roll:

So, in conclusion, a brilliant hike, great fun, but not the terrifying leap in exposure or difficulty that I thought it would be from other scrambles which are perceived as easy grade 1s.

Those in the group with less experience than I (my sister is approaching 30 munros and has maybe only done one significant scramble) seemed to enjoy themselves greatly and showed no real hesitation, although I think all of us had done our preparation, reading guides and looking at pictures on line, so everyone knew what they were committing to.

Bring on An Teallach and Liathach! :D

Edit: Thought I might as well keep the 'CV' updated, added the NE ridge of Binnein Mor
Last edited by IanEzzi on Fri Dec 30, 2016 1:19 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Update to the Scrambling CV - Aonach Eagach!

Postby Avocetboy » Mon Sep 14, 2015 12:35 pm

I like this report!!! It gives me confidence that the AE is achievable.

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Re: Update to the Scrambling CV - Aonach Eagach!

Postby IanEzzi » Mon Sep 14, 2015 12:48 pm

Glad to hear it Avocet! I hoped it might help other people like me who were concerned AE would reduce them to a paralysed gibbering wreck halfway along... :lol:

Point being though that I *had* done all the easier scrambles first, who knows how I would have felt if I only knew boots on grass previously, wouldn't want people construing this as me saying AE is easy! :?
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Re: Update to the Scrambling CV - Aonach Eagach!

Postby Silverhill » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:47 pm

Well done all! 8)
Nice level headed report, I like this! Still got the Aonach Eagach to do and am beginning to think it is achievable.
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Re: Update to the Scrambling CV - Aonach Eagach!

Postby simon-b » Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:55 pm

A thoroughly enjoyable ridge, if a little hairy at times. Well done for conquering it, Ian.
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