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The Ring of Steall

The Ring of Steall


Postby Cairngorm creeper » Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:14 pm

Route description: The Ring of Steall, Mamores

Munros included on this walk: Am Bodach, An Gearanach, Sgurr a'Mhaim, Stob Coire a'Chairn

Date walked: 01/09/2017

Distance: 15.7 km

Ascent: 1660m

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The Ring of Steall is a route that I have been looking forward too, ever since I first heard heard its name and every walk report I have read has just added to my enthusiasm. The good weather window we had been waiting for arrived and by 8:15 we were in the top carpark at Glen Nevis and ready to go.
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The Route

The woods leading to Glen Nevis were fresh and green after days of heavy rain
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Upper Glen Nevis Woods

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Glen Nevis Gorge

But the same rain left us with some concerns about crossing the Steall Waterfall. After some deliberation and feeling like cheats for missing out the Steall Bridge we crossed the River Nevis upstream, thus avoiding the waterfall crossing. Later in the day we learnt this had been a good call, as folk had been removing their boots to cross the Steall and still finding it a bit slippery. We did not however manage to avoid the bog, which was also in good form after the rain, but did succeed in hopping across it with dry feet :D .
Initial difficulties behind us, we started the long trek up to An Gearanach. As we plodded up the zigzagging path around the Coire, the views ahead remained fairly constant,
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The path up An Gearanach

but looking back across Glen Nevis and the surrounding mountains more than compensated for the effort.
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Looking down into Glen Nevis

A cairn marked the junction in the path and the ridge leading toward An Gearanach was unmissable in the excellent visibility. Leaving the zigzags behind the route became more interesting weaving past rocky outcrops and formations then along the edge of a crag until we eventually reached the first Munro summit at 11:30.
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Along the edge of the crags
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Ben Nevis and company with their heads in the clouds

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11:30 Two Creepers on An Gearanach

From An Gearanach we scrambled along the crest of the ridge to An Gharbanach, but avoided the odd difficult section by dropping down to join the sensible people on the path. :lol:
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Leaving An Gearanach with the Ring of Steall ahead of us

After a final bit of scrambling down on the Arete from An Gharbanach we continued on the path towards Stob a Coire Chairn.
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Scrambling down the arete
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Looking back at An Gharbanach

The playing around on the rock meant it was 12:45 before we reached Stob Coire a Chairn , where Jeremy Jetboil made a welcome appearance. Once he had finished posing with Ben Nevis, 8) he brewed us some tea and soup :D . Unbeknown to us at the time, it was the only Munro Jeremy got to bag all day, :( .
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Jeremy and The Ben
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Enjoying a cup of fruit tea on Stob a Coire Chairn

It would be easy to head off from Stob Coire a Chairn in the wrong direction, especially in fog, we may have done if we had not seen other walkers going the right way, :lol: and the visibility was excellent.
Looking towards Am Bodach I was struck by how uniquely beautiful the Mamores are with their sharp points and intricate interlocking ridges.
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Ridge to Am Bodach
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A Little hands on to reach the summit

We barely stopped on Am Bodach, the ridge beckoning us forward, and the views along the route being equal to those on the summits.
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14:20 Leaving Am Bodach
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Looking back at Am Bodach

Before long we were crossing Sgurr an Lubhair, with the Devils Ridge stretching in front of us, its name suggesting torturous difficulties :( or forbidden delights :mrgreen: , to be approached with a mixture of apprehension and anticipation.
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Sgurr an Lubhair and Devils Ridge Ahead

We stuck to the crest, enjoying the easy scrambling until we reached the bad step.
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Crest of the Devils Ridge

It looked straight forward until we were on it, but finding a way around was not so easy, after exploring some options and a near miss we retreated to the path :( to creep around it, somewhat deflated.
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Bad step

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Creeping around the path

A bit more easy scrambling and we were enjoying ourselves again.
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The devil completed but not defeated

Walking up to the final summit was steep and the weather was changing. Sadly the fantastic views we had been enjoying all day had disappeared in fog by the time we reached Sgurr a Mhaim and the cloud level was continuing to drop.
We had promised Jeremy that he could come out for a photo and a brew, but given the complexity of the descent we sneaked of quietly without telling him.
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No views and no Jeremy on Sgurr a Mhaim

The descent proved to be more straight forward than we had anticipated, there was path all the way down, easing our passage through the scree and the steep grass, as well as simplifying the navigation. That said care and concentration was required as we both managed to end up sitting in the mud more than once. :lol:
Once we were out of the cloud we stopped for a break and much needed brew to restore our energy levels.
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Descending From Sgurr a Mhaim

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Polldubh in the evening sun

I was beginning to wonder if we would ever stop descending this mountain, but we eventually reached the lower falls carpark 19:40 and began the hour long walk back up the road. There were still climbers on the crags as we passed Polldubh, and the sheep were preparing themselves for a night sleeping on the road. We were wondering about joining them :lol: at least we had some bright clothing to wear making us more visible than the black sheep!
Reluctantly we left the sheep to their bedtime rituals and plodded on back to the car, as ever, impressed with beauty of the Mamores and talking about new routes we could explore in the area, now we have completed all the Mamore Munros.
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Cairngorm creeper
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Re: The Ring of Steall

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:45 pm

Great report, thanks for posting! I especially love the backward photo from An Gearanach looking towards Ben Nevis & Co with their tops in the cloud.

Am hopefully heading up An Gearanach from Steall in October, although I plan to then follow the ridge left for Na Gruagaichean and Binnean Mor rather than right for the Ring of Steall.

Tim
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Re: The Ring of Steall

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:05 pm

It's been a long time since we walked this route... I remember Kevin was trying to scare me off the Devil's Ridge by saying it was ultra-difficult and when we eventually reached the traverse, I was disappointed it was so easy :lol:

We were out on the hills last Saturday, after a break caused by Kevin's health issues, you can smell autumn in the air now! Hopefully it's going to be a high-pressure autumn.
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Re: The Ring of Steall

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:59 pm

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:Great report, thanks for posting! I especially love the backward photo from An Gearanach looking towards Ben Nevis & Co with their tops in the cloud.

Am hopefully heading up An Gearanach from Steall in October, although I plan to then follow the ridge left for Na Gruagaichean and Binnean Mor rather than right for the Ring of Steall.

Tim

Thank you Tim, I loved that view as well, much better in real life. I hope you get some good weather for you trip, sounds like an interesting route you have planned, I am looking forward to reading your report.

BlackPanther wrote:It's been a long time since we walked this route... I remember Kevin was trying to scare me off the Devil's Ridge by saying it was ultra-difficult and when we eventually reached the traverse, I was disappointed it was so easy :lol:

We were out on the hills last Saturday, after a break caused by Kevin's health issues, you can smell autumn in the air now! Hopefully it's going to be a high-pressure autumn.


Putting The Devil in a name of anything does make it sound more exciting :lol: but it seems that Kevin was playing at being a wee devil as well trying to scare you. I am glad he is on the mend and you are getting out again, the forecast is promising some dry weather this W/E, long may it continue 8) .
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Cairngorm creeper
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Re: The Ring of Steall

Postby Mal Grey » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:35 pm

Excellent! Loved the report, but slightly disappointed for poor Jeremy and suspect he may well wish to return to Sgurr a' Mhaim one day...
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Re: The Ring of Steall

Postby Graeme D » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:10 pm

A fine day for a fine round. Fine report too! :clap:
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Re: The Ring of Steall

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:50 pm

Mal Grey wrote:Excellent! Loved the report, but slightly disappointed for poor Jeremy and suspect he may well wish to return to Sgurr a' Mhaim one day...

Thank you Mal, Jeremy was disappointed and we have had to promise to take him back when there is a better view for his summit pose :lol: :lol:

Graeme D wrote:A fine day for a fine round. Fine report too! :clap:

Thanks Graham, we thought it very fine indeed .
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Re: The Ring of Steall

Postby Sunset tripper » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:13 am

Nice one CC. Great area and great report. The Ring of Steall is one of my favourite trips.

PS. Love that last photo. Is that man carrying a tree in his right hand? :D
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Re: The Ring of Steall

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:06 pm

Sunset tripper wrote:Nice one CC. Great area and great report. The Ring of Steall is one of my favourite trips.

PS. Love that last photo. Is that man carrying a tree in his right hand? :D

Thanks ST. It was a great day. The tree was a bit heavy to carry up the road but is now happily living in our front garden :lol: :lol:
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Re: The Ring of Steall

Postby Coop » Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:26 pm

Great report and well in. :clap:
cheers.
I had a great day on these in May. The view across to Stob ban as your going up to Sgurr a Mhaim is amazing ( remember my legs feeling it a wee bit heading up to Sgurr a Mhaim )
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Re: The Ring of Steall

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:32 pm

Coop wrote:Great report and well in. :clap:
cheers.
I had a great day on these in May. The view across to Stob ban as your going up to Sgurr a Mhaim is amazing ( remember my legs feeling it a wee bit heading up to Sgurr a Mhaim )

Thanks Coop. I bet you are right about those views of Stob Ban, but I don't remember looking at them, how bad is that. I think we were too taken up with the Devils Ridge and then the cloud came down. Will definitely have to go back now.
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