Out on my *rse (Part 2) - facing down Death on the Aonachs

Munros: Aonach Beag (Nevis Range), Aonach Mor

Date walked: 16/09/2017

Time taken: 7.2 hours

Distance: 15.4km

Ascent: 1420m

The title of this report was originally going to be "A wet and wild affair up the Aonachs" but then I realised that in the very unlikely event that my wife should ever read it, I could find myself brought in to face a stern line of questioning about how I had chosen to spend my 24 hour hill pass during my enforced eviction! :lol:

I had grabbed a bite to eat in Fort William after the drive from Cruban Beag (God, I love Fort Bill on a Friday night! :lol: ) and spent the night at Poldubh at the end of the Glen Nevis road. Rather quieter than Fort Bill High Street! :lol:

The forecast predicted an improving picture into the afternoon of the Saturday, so I took my time in the morning, not setting off until after 9.15. The parking area was already rammed by that time, with a mixture of newly arrived cars and others that like mine had been parked up there overnight.......and a black sheep who seemed completely oblivious to human activities. :shock:

I set off past the cheery sign warning of the potential for death on the path through the gorge and a large and rather colourful toadstool. I had taken a wander a short distance back along the road before breakfast to stretch my legs and take care of, how shall I put it, some early morning business, and had noticed the interesting artwork on the back of a road sign - someone giving two fingers to the Danger of Death sign perhaps??? :lol:

I laugh in the face of Death!

So does he by the look of him!

Omelette if you think you're hard enough????

Go on, do your worst!

It had been a few years since I had diced with death on this path before a brilliant day with Kev and Darren on the Ring of Steall. For all the cars at the end of the road, I had the place to myself.... for now.

You're going to have to try harder than this Death!

I am spared to see the Steall Falls once again!

As I emerged onto the Steall Flats and got that first glimpse of the falls, I could see a number of tents dotted about and a few folks getting organised for whatever they had planned.

Hill race marker or final resting place of someone who never made it?

Steall Falls

I kept left at the fork, declining the opportunity for another death defying bounce on the wire bridge and headed instead onto new territory for me and the path to the ruins at Steall.

Sgurr a'Bhuic

Bridge next to the ruins

I stopped for a quick snack at the ruins but also to stick waterproofs on as a fine drizzle was now looking like settling in for the ascent of Sgurr a'Bhuic. I met an elderly but sprightly looking woman descending Sgurr a'Bhuic with her dog. "In for a wet one up there today!" she declared. Thanks! I wonder if she laughs in the face of death too???? :lol:

The Ring of Steall

The going soon became rockier and easier and I was soon at the wonderfully perched summit of Sgurr a'Bhuic looking out over upper Glen Nevis and the rear end of the Grey Corries.

Back down the south west spur of Sgurr a'Bhuic towards Meall Cumhann

Sgurr Choinnich Beag from the summit of Sgurr a'Bhuic

I dropped steeply down to the col at the foot of Stob Coire Bhealaich, from where it is possible to bear north east to Sgurr Coinnich Beag and onwards to the Grey Corries, before climbing steeply up above some vicious looking sheer cliffs towards Stob Coire Bealaich.

Sgurr a 'Bhuic looking very shapely from the north

Cliffs dropping down into the Killiechonate "Forest"

Low cloud loitering in Glen Nevis

Sgurr a'Mhuic and the Ring of Steall from the ascent of Stob Coire Bhealaich

Very scary looking cliffs! Sudden inevitable Death awaits!

A little navigational faux-pas then led me astray and cost me 15 minutes or so. The good path that I was on continued contouring due west and I missed the more indistinct path that climbed north west towards the Munro summit. It didn't take me too long to figure out that something wasn't quite right before I turned and retraced my steps, picking up the less than obvious grassy path north west.

The path becomes clearer again

Stob Coire Bhealaich

Aonach Beag from Stob Coire Bhealaich

Looking back down on Stob Coire Bhealaich

The cliffs of An Aghaidh Gharbh

This is meant to be the approach to the summit of Aonach Beag - looks more like the scene of a lunar landing to me!

Summit of Aonach Beag

I didn't linger unduly at the summit of Aonach Beag - it looked like the moon and felt even more Baltic than I imagine the moon would be! I quickly headed north to pick up the gap in the crags that would lead down to the long bealach giving access to the long, steady, terraced south ridge of Aonach Mor.

Mor from Beag

Aonach Mor

It was at this point that I met my first human being since the Death defying old woman above the Steall ruins. A couple coming from Aonach Mor (they had come up on the Gondola - sounds like a Death trap if you ask me!) informed me that I was about to experience the best views of the day from the bealach down into Coire Giubhsachan. They weren't kidding! :D

The view down Coire Giubhsachan towards Sgurr a'Mhaim and the almost insignificant Meall Cumhann

I stopped off here for a late lunch in the relative shelter and nearly choked on my hard boiled egg! FFS Death!!!!! Give it a rest will you!!!!!!?????? :evil:

The long south ridge of Aonach Mor- well named!

Summit of Aonach Mor - Death 0, Graeme 2 :wink:

Once again, I didn't outstay my welcome, and quickly headed back to the bealach from where I knew a lot of work still lay ahead of me before I could once again stare Death in the eyes on the path through the Nevis Gorge! :lol:

Aonach Beag from the descent off Aonach Mor

Aonach Beag from the bealach

Ben Nevis and the CMD arête from the drop into Coire Giubhsachan

Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg

Allt Coire Giubhsachan lead me home and deliver me from Death!

The walk down through the coire to the bridge by the ruins was a mega-bogfest but that did not detract one iota from the sheer beauty of the place and the enjoyment of walking through it. The Allt Coire Giubhsachan is an absolute beast of a river for one so small and seemingly insignificant. It takes it in turns to pour over waterfalls, down huge flat, sloping slabs of rock, through gentle, deep, meandering sections, and repeat.......... 8)

The Allt Coire Giubhsacahan with the Ring of Steall framing the shot in the background

Upstream towards my descent route from the bealach

Slabby section

Slow, meandering section

The pointy end of the long south west spur of Aonach Beag

Small waterfall

Huge waterfall - nice try Death, but not even close!

From the bridge by the ruins I made my way back downstream along the Water of Nevis past a bunch of guys with tripods set up across from the Falls of Steall (a couple of them looked peeved that I dared to walk in front of their obviously delayed timer cameras!) to the Death defying path above the gorge.

I had had the path to myself some 7 hours earlier - now it was like Princes Street on Christmas Eve! They were coming in droves towards me - families with 2.4 children and an assorted number of dogs both on and off the lead, serious looking dudes with tripods, foreign couples in flip flops and other forms of unsuitable footwear - you name it! All dicing with Death on the path above the Nevis Gorge! :lol:

Back at the car, I gave the two fingers to the Death sign and jumped in for the drive home to tell my wife about my Death defying day (as opposed to my Wet and Wild Affair up the Aonachs!) :wink:

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Comments: 4

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Attachment(s) Sub 2000s: Cruban Beag
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Distance: 4.2km
Ascent: 370m
Comments: 2
Views: 146

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Attachment(s) Munros: Gairich
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Ascent: 1000m
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Attachment(s) Sub 2000s: Beinn a'Mhonicag
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Ascent: 315m
Comments: 1
Views: 210

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Attachment(s) Corbetts: Sgurr an Airgid
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Ascent: 1025m
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Views: 223

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Ascent: 840m
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Attachment(s) Corbetts: Ben Donich
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Attachment(s) Corbetts: Beinn an Lochain
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Views: 394

Graeme D

User avatar
Location: Perth
Occupation: Teacher
Pub: Moulin Inn
Mountain: Too tough to answer
Gear: Paramo gilet/Scarpa boots
Member: MCofS
Ideal day out: No such thing as a bad day out on or amongst the hills - only degrees of goodness.
Ambition: 2b sent home on full pay!

Munros: 206
Corbetts: 91
Grahams: 57
Donalds: 21
Wainwrights: 6
Hewitts: 22
Sub 2000: 50
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   

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