Using Steel on the Ring of Steall

Route: The Ring of Steall, Mamores

Munros: Am Bodach, An Gearanach, Sgùrr a' Mhàim, Stob Coire a' Chàirn

Date walked: 23/02/2013

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 15.3km

Ascent: 1576m

A belated report on a fantastic winter day out! There are numerous trip reports on other sites about the Ring of Steall in winter but none I could find on walk highlands (in full on winter nick anyway). So despite it being a month old and delayed by work deadlines I still thought it worthy of a report! It initially began with a massive transport faf and by the time we were leaving for Fort William the thought of having to bail halfway or descend with a head torch was at the front of our minds.

The walk begins with this sign, amusing considering it is simply the walk in:

The wire bridge was an essential addition and with the ‘3 person max’ sign totally ignored we got quite a swing going, although sadly not enough to give one of the four a swim.

Steall falls did have some frozen patches and looked quite glorious:

Annoyingly my bag doesn’t have a section to fix an ice axe, so I’ve always used a gash mix of ‘gaffer tape, string and hope’ to strap it onto my bag. The first time I was at the back during this walk, when we were fording the river beneath the falls, the ice axe decided to jump free and the sound of it dropping into the river was deadened by the roaring falls beside me. I discovered this roughly 1km and 300m of assent later and had an unwanted jog back which ate up precious time. The assent to the An Gearanach ridge was pretty steep and I was feeling it in my legs a bit, although this could have just been the run! Once we reached it there were a few convenient points to practise our ice axe arrests, just in case, and we were also greeted by the first view of the Ring of Steall and in clear weather it looked glorious. The final pull to the summit looked like a ‘Stairway to Heaven’:

The next part of the ridge:

The next point of interest is the scramble descending from An Gearanach which really wasn’t too difficult at all if you’ve got a bit of balls. A bit scary for the group member who hadn’t worn crampons before though:

I felt this section was at a similar difficulty level to the coming devil’s ridge but much less prolonged. Once you’re past this point there aren’t any more snares until the devil’s ridge and the Ring is pretty much at your mercy. Before leaving I’d forgotten to check which summits on the ridge were munros and the next summit was Stob Coire a' Chairn which I thought was merely top because it is noticeably dwarfed by the bulk of Am Bodach behind – thankfully we didn’t skirt the summit to save time! The weather only improved from here and was getting pretty warm so we were thankful the solidly steep assent up Am Bodach was in the shade:

At the summit the views to Glencoe and Loch Lochy were incredible:

We realised our progress was sufficient to make the full circle and headed on. The next point of interest was the Devil’s Ridge, which if you don’t have a head for heights could be a bit nerve-racking. Overall I’d say it isn’t as bad as some make it out to be:there’s only being one or two small sections which require any thought and some scrambling skills and besides those it’s simply a very pleasing and ‘walk-able ‘arête.

View from the north side:

We’d made the summit of Sgurr a’ Mhaim in plenty of time and had great time admiring the view of Ben Nevis on one of the few clear days it gets:

Glissading down the first third also afforded us enough time to take a prolonged break to take in the final view before the sun set behind Stob Ban:

The final descent was awful on the knees and was a bit of a ‘grey lining on a very silver cloud’. Once we were below the snow line we ditched the crampons and whilst the path was mostly clear we would occasionally find big patches of ice which made things quite awkward. Upon finishing we discovered our transport plan had failed: we left the first car at the end point, Polldubh, and all drove up in the second car to the Steall car park a couple of miles up the road. We would finish at the first car, drive up to the start point again to collect the second and then head off, thus saving a finishing trudge along the road.. Unfortunately the driver of the first car, which was parked at the Polldubh end point, left his keys in the boot of the second car parked at the end of the road. We sent him off on a jog to bring back that car but a lift from the Metropolitan Police of all people saved his legs. This did leave me time to spot a small cross in memory of ‘Allan Squires’ a pilot in the 2006 Nimrod crash in Afghanistan. Having grown up near that RAF base at the time of the crash, I found it particularly poignant:

I did feel, should you ever require a place for a memorial, you’d struggle to find a setting more beautiful than Glen Nevis.

Click to mark this as a great report. Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Comments: 2

A Poetic Tribute to Liathach - My Best Day Yet

Munros: Mullach an Rathain (Liathach), Spidean a' Choire Lèith (Liathach)
Date walked: 21/10/2012
Distance: 8km
Ascent: 1309m
Comments: 13
Views: 6223

'Orrid Orchy Overnighter - But I Leave Victorious

Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn a' Chreachain, Beinn Achaladair, Beinn an Dòthaidh, Beinn Dòrain, Beinn Mhanach
Date walked: 29/09/2012
Distance: 37km
Ascent: 2400m
Comments: 13
Views: 7300

1, 2

Robbing the US on Derry Cairngorm & Blown up Beinn Mheadhoin

Attachment(s) Date walked: 29/08/2012
Distance: 23km
Ascent: 1750m
Comments: 19
Views: 8945

First Solo (Y), Weather (Y), Excting Hill er, Meall Chuaich?

Attachment(s) Date walked: 13/07/2012
Distance: 22.6km
Ascent: 687m
Comments: 5
Views: 2569

A Misty Mullach Clach a' Bhlair

Attachment(s) Munros: Mullach Clach a' Bhlàir
Date walked: 04/07/2012
Distance: 21.5km
Ascent: 875m
Comments: 4
Views: 3268


User avatar
Location: Edinburgh
Occupation: Actuary
Activity: Stravaiging

Munros: 217
Corbetts: 10
Grahams: 5
Donalds: 3
Wainwrights: 35
Hewitts: 25
Sub 2000: 13
Islands: 21
Long Distance routes: Moray Coastal Trail   

Filter reports



Trips: 1
Distance: 15.3 km
Ascent: 1576m
Munros: 4


Trips: 5
Distance: 112.1 km
Ascent: 7021m
Munros: 8

Joined: Aug 25, 2012
Last visited: May 16, 2022
Total posts: 59 | Search posts