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beginner on a dry day -- doable but difficult!

beginner on a dry day -- doable but difficult!

Postby csaund » Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:30 pm

Route description: Aonach Eagach

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

Date walked: 09/07/2020

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 9.5 km

Ascent: 1100m

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A look heading down the last of the pinnacles -- on busy days queues can form as there is only one route and hikers may go this section at different speeds.

My partner has done this walk before. On this good weather window he brought me up, and while I've done my fair share of hiking and climbing around the world I'm new to Scottish hillwalking.

We left Glasgow at 7:00 and arrived at the Three Sisters car park at 9:15 on the dot, and were able to hike by 9:30.

THE ASCENT: Taking our time on the way up, the path is extremely well-trodden and remarkably scenic. There is only a tiny bit of scramble on the way up, and it is manageable for anybody for whom the height of the mountain isn't an immediate no-go. At the first peak a clear day affords views of the sisters but moreover clear skies to Kinlochleven and the Isles to the west.

We saw some ferrel goats on the way up as well! They were an adorable and lovely surprise as we crested Am Bodach. The walk past The Chancellor is gorgeous and smooth. Easy walking and a brief relief on the quads before the scramble.

THE SCRAMBLE: The scramble of about 400m took us 2 hours. For those not familiar with what "scramble" means in Scotland, it's bouldering -- low grade rock climbing. A good head for heights is ESSENTIAL as once you begin the Pinnacles there are no safe escape routes. I would be very choosy about who I took on this route. However, the boulders are very easy with many good hand and feet holds, and the entire thing was manageable even for my small (160cm) frame. While walking this path we took our time with deep breaths as I got nervous at one particularly exposed section, but the entire thing was manageable for me (I have a good amount of climbing experience).

Before beginning the pinnacles, take a look at them and don't be afraid to come back the way you came, or even continue on the opposite ridge to Kinlochleven as this is a lovely (and very respectable) option. The pinnacles are 100% as difficult as they look, if not moreso because of how exposed they are. I am normally very calm in these circumstances and I had to pause and steady my head for a bit. I would not have attempted this route if my partner had not done it before, and having him supporting me along the way was integral to my enjoyment of this hike.

Personally, I would definitely NOT attempt this traverse in the rain. The rocks are very sticky and we never lost our footing, and the holds are excellent; I'm sure others would be comfortable on this in the wet, but I would never attempt this in anything other than ideal conditions. If you're on the fence, I would choose a different route as one slip could easily be fatal.

All that being said, if you feel comfortable and confident and the time is right, the views along this section are stunning, and it's a great place to get a few pictures to send to your parents to scare the daylights out of them! If you are going for the pinnacles, take your time both to be cautious but also to take in the incredible beauty and majesty around you. Pause for a breath on top of one of the pinnacles and ENJOY IT!

THE DESCENT: It is very clear when the scramble is finished. As soon as you can't see pinnacles in front of you, you did it! We stopped to take a picture of what we just accomplished as it brought a huge feeling of pride (and relief) for me! The second peak was an easy ascent and lovely ridge walk, despite the fact that my legs were shaking from both nerves and exhaustion. Make sure to descend to the RIGHT (towards the Pap of Glencoe, with full view of the township) as the left looks like it could be promising but is in fact a punishing scree field that we saw some folks commit to -- I can only imagine a long and uncomfortable walk down. The walk back to the carpark took 1 hour, but it is far preferable to the alternative!

When you get to the road, turn left back to the carpark. But most importantly...

THE PUB: Literally why do this hike if you're not getting pints at the Clachaig afterwards? It's on the road back, can't miss it :D

View of the Three Sisters from the top of Am Bodach

The view of Kinlochleven from Am Bodach, a fantastic "bail" option if you ask me!

a panorama of the three sisters with the chancellor in the foreground from the top of Am Bodach

The path to the pinnacles -- the path along the ridge is just lovely.

The view facing the pinnacles from Am Bodach

A horizontal traverse of the Pinnacles -- be aware of those around you!

A fairly standard section of climbing the pinnacles

A look heading down the last of the pinnacles -- on busy days queues can form as there is only one route and hikers may go this section at different speeds.

Positivity and support from strangers is essential :clap:

The entire range in the background!

:shock: Can't believe it...

The view of Glencoe from Sgorr nam Fiannaidh! At last!
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