25 July 2011
12.4 km/1443 m/08:00 hrs
After a good night’s sleep at the Glen Nevis Campsite I felt ready for another great day on the hill: The weather was still perfect, and I wanted to climb the Aonach Eagach again, a ridge I have traversed several times (in both directions), but I think I will never get enough of it 🙂
I started at 10:30 from the car park in the bend just before Allt-na-Ruigh and ascended the path to Am Bodach. Even at this time in the morning, it was already very warm – too warm for my liking, actually.
Looking across the road to Geàrr Aonach, the second of the Three Sisters, with Coire Gabhail on the left and Coire nan Lochan, overlooked by Stob Coire nan Lochan, on the right.
The view towards Rannoch Moor, Buachaille Etive Beag on the right, with Buachaille Etive Mòr behind.
From Am Bodach, I got a good view North towards Garbh Bheinn, The Ring of Steall and Ben Nevis behind.
Ben Nevis, zoomed.
Before continuing along the ridge, I made a short detour to The Chancellor, a pinnacle pointing out from the ridge into Glencoe.
The only difficult bit is this narrow rock slab sloping both ways, apart from that it is really just a walk to the end of the pinnacle.
Loch Achtriochtan, seen from The Chancellor.
View from The Chancellor to the main ridge.
After climbing back up to the ridge, the descent from Am Bodach was next. This is steep, but there are lots of good handholds, and solid ledges to stand on.
The descent from Am Bodach.
Am Bodach from further along the ridge.
Sròn Gharbh, Am Bodach, and the Blackwater Reservoir in the top left corner.
After the first Munro, Meall Dearg, follows the most interesting part of the ridge, which gives the Aonach Eagach its name – a variety of pinnacles, alternating with sections of sandy paths.
A chimney, again with lots of handholds, it can be climbed like a staircase.
Close-up of the chimney, there is no feeling of exposure as the way up is very enclosed.
Looking down a narrow descent between two rock walls, the options are squeezing through the middle or downclimbing some steep rocks on the left.
The narrow gap from below.
Approaching the last of the pinnacles.
Another steep descent.
The most exposed pinnacle towards the end of the ridge.
There is a very tempting “path” leading down on the right hand (N) side, and during my first traverse a few years ago I followed this – not knowing that the climb back up to the ridge would be quite difficult and scary!
Later I had found out that it is much safer to climb directly up the pinnacle and to swing around it on the right hand side, facing the rock (which is not as bad as it sounds ;)).
After the last steep downclimb…
… Stob Coire Lèith lies ahead.
Looking back along the ridge.
From Stob Coire Lèith it is an easy walk to the second Munro, Sgorr nam Fiannaidh.
Ben Nevis, Stob Bàn and part of the Ring of Steall seen across Loch Leven.
View East towards Rannoch Moor.
Stob Coire nan Lochan and Bidean nam Bian.
From Sgorr nam Fiannaidh I walked further along the broad ridge for a few hundred metres, until I came to the cairn marking the start of the descent route.
The path leads down the scree slopes to the left of Cnap Glas, the “lump” in the middle of the next photo.
Soon it joins up with the path that comes from the Pap of Glencoe. The view to Loch Leven makes the descent along the loose, stony path a bit more pleasant!
Further down the hillside, the path improves, and eventually it arrives at the single track road in Glencoe, about one kilometre up from the Youth Hostel. On the way down I caught up with two couples who had walked the same route, but I had not seen them up on the ridge. They must have been far ahead of me, because they had started just after 08:00 in the morning.
Walking along the single track road, I tried to get a lift back to my car, but there was hardly any traffic. An American couple did stop, the driver asked me where I was heading, but he apologised as they were only going to Glencoe Village.
Although I normally hate road walking, I enjoyed the walk on this warm, pleasant evening. When I passed the Clachaig Inn where some guests were sitting at the picnic tables outside, I was very tempted to have a drink as well – but I wanted to have a bar meal in Fort William (the Clachaig is ok for drinks, but I am not impressed by the food), and it was getting a bit late.
When I arrived at the junction with the A 82, a white van came along the single track, and I waited to see which direction it was going, ready to stick my thumb out in case it was turning left. But the van stopped, and through the open passenger window a woman shouted if I wanted a lift – they were the two couples I had met on the descent 🙂 One of the women got in the back of the van, and I was invited to sit at the front. Five minutes later I was back at my car, and soon on my way back to Fort William.
I went straight to the Glen Nevis Restaurant on the campsite, worried I might be too late for a meal. But there was plenty of time, and I celebrated two brilliant hillwalking days with a menu consisting of Lemon and Herb coated Brie, then Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, followed by Cranachan, and a couple of pints of cider.
During the conversation with the couple sitting at the table next to mine, it turned out that they live in Kincraig and are both experienced TGO Challengers! So I spent the evening not only with nice food, but also in pleasant company – a perfect end to my trip!