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West Highland Way 'Short Cut'

PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:20 pm
by icemandan

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Last day of the West Highland Way. Looked across at the Mamores. Pin sharp, one of Hamish Brown's 'sellotape tin blue skies'. Strong need to obliterate the memory of watching England v Algeria in the Tailrace with sympathetic locals. Do I want to plod around the bottom? Hmm let me think. Gorgeous sunshine on the path up through the woods, the Pap of Glencoe beckoning across Loch Leven

Pap of Glencoe.jpg

before leaving the WHW and taking an enticing stalkers path up into Coire na h-Eirghe which revealed itself a few yards at a time up past waterfalls

Aonach Eagach.jpg

until I reached the pristine green silence of the upper corrie. Up onto the demoted munro of Sgurr nan Iubhair and the full panorama unfolded.

Stob Ban.jpg

Bearing in mind Muriel Grey's description of thousands of devils hissing about not having the safety of a rope, a scree slither brought me to the Devil's Ridge with a bit of trepidation. No problem, just a grass slope. What's the fuss about? I thought and set off up. Over the first hump and it dawned on me. The path through the grass had turned into a grassy tightrope. Nothing difficult underfoot but outside the twelve inches of safety the slopes fell away at an alarming angle. Slip here either side and it would be a very long time before you stopped. Dismissing such thoughts as well as the thought of coming back the same way, I carried on.

Devil's Ridge.jpg

A couple of easy scrambly bits and it was done. A steep stony rise, energy sapping in the hot sun, brought me to the top of Sgurr a Mhaim and the view came out again.

Over lunch I looked across at Coire an Eoghainn on The Ben.

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This always gives me a bit of a shiver as ten years ago I fell into it in winter. A fall of 1000ft ending in the burn at the top of the waterslide. By the time I was taken into Belmont I had a temperature of 29 and I'm told that I was one of the coldest people that they'd ever successfully defrosted (incidentally Ice Man Dan was the headline in the Daily Mirror).

Leaving such thoughts aside, I headed back across the ridge. Some fine zig zags took me down to the little jade loch at the bealach and a welcome water stop ready for the stiff climb to Stob Ban. There was a party up there drinking champagne, celebrating a birthday. The view was amazing. Having filled up, I was able to give some water to a party coming up who were suffering badly in the heat. I carried on along the aerial walkway of the Mamores ridge to Mullach nan Coirean. Continuing along the north ridge, I was off the munro bagging routes, on my own and pathless. Picking a way around rocks, tussocks and bogs, I came gently down to the edge of the forest.

Being a bit anorakish about small hills, I decided to take in the hill fort of Dun Deardail. It was a still evening and I came under full midge attack as I precariously climbed a fence and sweated my way up the old ramparts. It was worth it though. The view is fantastic. Then it was onto the official path down and back onto the West Highland Way - a long grind on forest tracks and tarmac roads to its anticlimactic finish at the Glen Nevis roundabout and a happily exhausted curry in Fort William with the rest of the party

Re: West Highland Way 'Short Cut'

PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 5:44 pm
by malky_c
Good diversion. I joined my mum and sister for the last section of the WHW in May with and it was just a steady precession of people all the way. Reminded me why I have no great desire to do the whole thing :?

So you must've come a cropper in 5 Finger Gully then? Nasty :shock: :shock:

Re: West Highland Way 'Short Cut'

PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:24 pm
by icemandan
Thought I was heading that way as I was falling but in fact I was heading down the other side towards the top of the waterslide. At the time I thought I'd only fallen 100 ft or so but the rescue told me it was more like 1000 with two bounces. Got away with one badly broken arm, one dislocated arm and some cuts and bruises to the head, oh and carpet burns all the way round. Lucky to be alive in all kinds of ways.

Re: West Highland Way 'Short Cut'

PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:35 pm
by monty
Nice report Icemandan.
Excellent pictures of the devils ridge so its nice to see what it looks like. That was a terrible fall you suffered. I take it you fell on ice and snow? Its nice to see Coire an Eoghainn because I am tempted to go up the ben that way from the car park below. Certainly not in the snow though. May try it in April/May next year. cheers

Re: West Highland Way 'Short Cut'

PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:08 pm
by icemandan
Yep. It was the end of a warm March and the snow had been deep and soggy. It was a dull, overcast day and we'd been on the point of turning back at the top of Carn Mor Dearg when the weather briefly cleared and the arete curled across towards us. The long step kicking grind to the top of the Ben had worn us out. Heading down, beginning to dream of the post walk pint, a short patch of ice, didn't seem worth putting the crampons on and....the next thing, you're wondering why you bothered with the a pension scheme.