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Aonach Eagach Ridge - Redefining Peak Week

Aonach Eagach Ridge - Redefining Peak Week


Postby andygunn23 » Sat Sep 03, 2016 5:30 pm

Route description: Aonach Eagach

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

Date walked: 02/09/2016

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 9.5 km

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Aonach Eagach Ridge - Redefining Peak Week

Those of you that have ever signed up for a marathon will know there is often anything you would do to avoid the dreaded "peak week"... So what better way to avoid the 35km of doom and despare than clambering (literally) your way to another two Munros. Avoided is probably the wrong word - ultimately just a week long delay tactic. :crazy:

Over my numerous reports I have had many so-called "guest" appearances, from family, to friends and who could forget the Mirror Man of Lochearnhead.

This weekend started with sending a group message to three of my mates, who had never met each other. In fact, if it wasn't for these reports I would never have regained touch with two of the three. The plan started off very fluid but the weekend was set, the 27th August 2016.

Callum would head north from Edinburgh (in a wild attempt to escape the festival fireworks) and myself, Connor and Andrew would shoot across from Aberdeen. By Wednesday the weather forecast looked reasonable so Aonach Eagach ridge was set at the ideal target for the Saturday. Sunday remained a wild mystery but time over in the Mamores seemed like the likely option.

4am and the alarm went off. :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: I don't think any of us knew what to expect within the next 24 hours, but I will try my best and capture it here.

With the intention to meet at the Clachaig Inn I set off from the flat before collecting Connor and Andrew and ultimately leaving Aberdeen just after 5am.

Not sure if Sally the SatNav took us the quickest way but we stopped to pay a visit to my old pal the Mirror Man.
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Nothing can truly prepare you for the midges of the West Coast of Scotland. We contemplated on a few occasions over the course of the weekend, "Imagine you came to Scotland and had no idea about the midges, it could easily ruin a holiday..." :shock:

We were due to arrive at Clachaig Inn a wee bit early so we stopped for a quick snap - it better be worth it because it resulted in a car full of midges!!!
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For me this was the first time in 23 years I had stopped in Glencoe. Although we drove through it on route to complete the three peaks, we opted not to stop as the pub was calling too loud and it was dinging it down!

It truly is one of the most spectacular places in Scotland, it almost appears computer generated. We (mainly I), had been sharing the horror stories of the ridge so maybe this explained the surreal feeling of being so minuscule in such a gigantic Glen.

Just after 9am and we began the ascent up towards the ridge.
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Very difficult to appreciate until you have been there in person - terrific!
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Considering this was the first time we had met as a group everything seemed to be going well so far. Essentially we started off at a very moderate pace and allowed a few groups of people to essentially pass through - one group essentially from further south (it would essentially be assumed) provided a great deal of entertainment for the remainder of ascent following their excessive use of one particular word. :lol: :lol:

Connor leading the way.
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"I could sense you taking photos of me all day..." Maybe you will get a new Facebook cover photo!
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Once you reach the first false summit it quickly becomes apparent why Walkhighlands recommends 6-9 hours - no that's not a mistake for 9.5km.

Simply stunning.
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The height you gain so quickly is impressive. Although steep it at no point seemed unbearable - maybe that is my fresh legs and hindsight of what remained speaking...

A82 shrinks into insignificance very quickly.
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I got into this hill walking / Munro bagging by accident. In fact when I really think about it, there never was a strong reason. As I have done more, and seen more it's become clearer and clearer that the hills that take the most hand clambering are easily the most fun.... :lol:

My bagging spree started off predominately in the Cairngorms, although arguably beautiful in the own unique plateau-ey way, west, in this case is best!

Connor elegantly clambering his way to success :crazy: :lol:
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Every report will give you different advice, with most do focusing on the start being the most exposed. The weather for us was dry so everything seemed that bit easier. I can't say I will be able to offer any great advice but I will certainly share all my photos and hopefully put it all into perspective!

This is the scramble down, ft. Andrew - for scale find the people.
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That wee bit higher and further on.
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Viewing the long way down.
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Looking back towards the first section, thankfully all alive in intact.
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As we all know (too well) the Scottish mountain weather could be likened to a stroppy teenager (I can say that since I'm in my 20s right?)... Anyway, the cloud threatened to cover everything and ruin the day pretty quickly... (thankfully it never!)

Cloud, my arch nemesis.
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At least the views this-a-way were glorious!
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YES scramble time!

Unfortunately the times of scrambles often meant the least time of photos. I did see a few chaps with GoPros attached the their chest straps... Maybe that will be the next expensive purchase for the "cheap" hobby of walking :lol: :lol: :lol:

The only way is upwards!
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Sweaty and sweatier.
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(it might be worth reading the next paragraph as Sir David Attenborough :lol: )

If you look closely at the next picture I have managed to capture one of the rarest mountain breeds, the highland couple. Caught here in decade old act of selfie taking. It would appear this couple have yet to develop to more advance selfie stick technique but have had to rely on the males arms. Nonetheless a truly majestic event to behold. :clap:

A photo of a photo.
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The task at hand appeared impressive!
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Thankfully not minding heights made the whole prospect of the day far easier, but there is the odd occasion where reality kicks in and reminds you either side of you is a rather large drop...

The troops, and the drop.
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Amazing. (I feel like I am running out of positive adjectives, I don't want to essentially end up essentially using the same word over and over...
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Hi-ho-hi-ho it's along Aonach Eagach we go..
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Callum looking like he has just conquered Everest!
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On the edge of nothing-ness.
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By now it looked like we were nearly over the hardest of the scramble and it would be a simple ascent to the next summit. In fact I think Andrew fired in with the rash "20 minutes nae danger". This may only have been 30 minutes after the "jeez that fairly gave me the willies". :lol:

Still a wee bit to go.
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There turned out to be plenty of scrambling left - need a head for heights here.
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Looking back at what we had just made our way down (with a few sweary words thrown in for good measure).
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We had been following a group of four for most of the day who were roped up. Without a shadow of a doubt seeing someone else roped up instantly makes you think there is about a 99.5% chance you are ill prepared and doomed. Upon catching up with them (as they stopped for a munch) it became clear the ropes were probably to help the young lad with them - the next generation mountaineer! :clap: :clap:

Feeling somewhat ill prepared currently.
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They did offer us with some good advice on one of the most "hairy" sections, so cheers (although this does look like the Mirror Man has become the Mountain Man.) and yes I don't know how to make this straight... :lol:
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Again looking back, try use the people to get a sense of scale! (I can confirm they are not dwarfs)
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Munro 44, Sgorr nam Fiannaidh lying and waiting to be captured (almost like a pokemon).
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I have been trying to write this report for nearly a week now, but the sheer volume of photos I took has been making it slightly more challenging than expected! I managed to whittle the initial 97 down to a more reasonable 40-something, but this next one is probably one of my favourite photos I have captured over the last 44 Munros.

Arguably not going to win any photography competitions but to know we had clambered all the way from right to left was rewarding :shock:
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The zoomed version.
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Glencoe from where it should be viewed.
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Looking forward to this sexy beast!
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The long steep descent.
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We managed the two car trick (highly, highly recommend it!) so finished back at the Inn roughly 7 hours after setting off. This began the conversation of what tomorrow would hold... Within the time it took to collect my car from the start Andrew and Connor has already demolished a rather refreshing looking pint.

I knew my legs were pretty goosed and wasn't overly enthused with clambering up one of the Amores tonight (I think everyone was on the same train of thought but no one wanted to admit it! :lol: ). Many suggestions were fired around, but ultimately the taste of the alcohol free beer made my decision - more beers were needed, and for this Fort William was the likely destination.

Consensus seemed to be reached that the AE ridge took more out of us than expected and the ideal of a mad day on the Sunday seemed less appealing. Callum took the sensible option and headed home to Edinburgh whilst myself, Connor and Andrew headed to the Lochy Holiday Park.

We stayed here when we did the three peaks so the idea of a nice shower and flat pitch seemed unbeatable. 8) Although on the drive there the 4am start was creeping up on all of us, almost as swiftly as the 12 pack of Red Bull was diminishing below us.

And that ladies and gentlemen should have been where the report ends - but it's never really possible to only have one beer is it? Plus as Andrew kept saying "we are in whisky land after all". :crazy:

An hour long wait for the Stag Pie at the Grog and Gruel meant we would head along to (I think) The Crofter for a cheeky pre-meal pint - bit of a dive if I'm honest, but there was three seats free!

Finally dinner arrive a good few pints and whiskies in...
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Has anyone ever tried this? (we didn't because Connor decided he didn't like us enough for a £20-something nip... :crazy:
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We bounced from a number of pubs, feeling slightly underdressed in the walking gear!

By about midnight the munchies were creeping back in so we bought out one of the pubs crisps supply.
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Next thing we knew we ended up in the Volunteer Arms (I think), a pub that almost turns into a nightclub - although according to the taxi driver, Fort William lost its only nightclub many moons ago.
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Anyway I can't really report on the next part of the evening as it became a slight blur. I do remember arriving back to the tents just after 4am - I did say none of us knew what the next 24hrs held in stock! A night out in Fort William was definitely not in the initial plan.

We spent the next morning / early afternoon resting in the river behind the camp site and once we had suitable recovered it was quickly apparent that no hills were going to be climbed today!

The weather forecast said rain - shame it was actually a nice day!
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Even with a bit of a hangover this didn't stop us doing the tourists options.

The Commando Memorial just outside Spean Bridge.
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A rather hungover Connor and Andrew, and my favourite photo from the weekend.
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I may only be 44 Munros into the 282, but Meall Dearg and Sgorr nam Fiannaidh along the Aonach Eagach ridge are without a doubt my two favourites so far! I hope to get the curved ridge in at some point before the end of the year, but for now I will take between now and the Loch Ness Marathon (the whole three weeks) off from Munro bagging!

For anyone thinking about doing the AE ridge and is slightly apprehensive, in good weather it is definitely worth it! If you don't mind heights it will be a breeze, if not, take a change of underwear.

On that note, thanks again for reading (if you made it this far congratulations, buy yourself a beer!). Comments / suggestions on where next are always appreciated.

Cheers to Connor, Andrew, Callum and the Mirror Man for their guest appearances - anyone else looking for a walking partner send us a message! :clap:

Andrew.

I asked for suggestions on what to leave for my final Munro (whenever that may be) in my last report - thank for all the advice and I have finally come to a conclusion. I spent a few weeks debating over Ben Hope on Mull, or one closer to home for all the family and friends to join in. I've came to the conclusion I will do Ben Hope as 281 and then leave Sgor Gaoith for 282 as I should manage to round up a few to join! The best of both worlds I guess (I do want to hire a VW Campervan for the trip to Mull however.... :wink: :D
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andygunn23
 
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Re: Aonach Eagach Ridge - Redefining Peak Week

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sun Sep 04, 2016 7:10 pm

That's the fist report on the AER that has made me giggle rather than quake in fear - that is a REAL achievement :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Aonach Eagach Ridge - Redefining Peak Week

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:31 pm

A really entertaining report on a very fine ridge walk.

Very annoyed to see the good weather, though: I cancelled a planned trip to the Mamores on the basis of the weather forecast (rain, clag, rain, clag, clag, rain, clag, rain)....
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Alteknacker
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