Hills: Aonach Eagach (Meall Dearg and Sgorr nan Fionnaidh)
Date: Friday 10th August 2012
Company: Myself and Rachel
Time: 8 Hrs 05Mins

I last traversed the Aonach Eagach in September 2002. I saw little of ridge that day, as Neil, Ross and myself traversed the ridge entirely in the mist. Last week, Rachel sent a message asking if I was free to hillwalk on Friday. I advised, “Yes” and suggested, “How about the Aonach Eagach?”

I only needed two more Munros to reach 100 (2nd round) and a traverse of the Aonach Eagach seemed like a good way to reach the century. Rachel was also keen to do the Aonach Eagach, so we agreed to travel down to Glen Coe on the Thursday evening, to allow for an early start on the Friday.

On Friday, after leaving a car at the West-end of the ridge, we traversed the Aonach Eagach from East to West in what turned out to be outstanding conditions.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the car park below Am Bodach, we set off along the well-constructed path up the steep slopes of Am Bodach. It was nice to get such great views of Bidean nam Bian, my last first-round Munro, also climbed in mist.

Looking across to the Three Sisters from the lower slopes of Am Bodach:

During the ascent, we caught-up with another group who had set off about five minutes before us. Throughout the walk, we chatted with this group at various stops along the way.

Ascending Am Bodach:

The good path made for fast progress.

Sron Gharbh:

As we gained height, we saw wisps of low cloud to the West.

Looking along Glen Coe towards Loch Achtriochtan:

Bidean nam Bian looked particularly nice with its thin band of inversion.

Bidean Nam Bian panorama:

However, while there were only wisps of inversion to the West, there was lots of inversion to the East. I think our decision to go West was correct.

Several inversion photos follow from the dozen or more photos that we took.

Glen Coe Inversion:

Inversion (photo by Rachel):

Lots of inversion to the East of Glen Coe:

It was great to look across to a cloud-free Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg. We wondered if we could even make out the large summit cairn.

Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg (zoom):

More inversion:

Rachel taking a photo:

Rachel's video-clip:

We reached the summit of Am Bodach (Munro Top), about 90 minutes after setting off. We were not sure how Rachel would find the ridge and therefore took a rope and harnesses with us. At the top of Am Bodach, we put on our harnesses as I knew that soon thereafter there was a 20m rocky descent.

Looking towards Ben Nevis from the summit of Am Bodach:

Looking along the ridge from Am Bodach:

We saw the Chancellor, a short distance beyond Am Bodach. We decided against descending out to this rocky outcrop on this occasion.

The Chancellor:

On reaching the 20m drop, Rachel advised that she was confident and didn’t feel she needed the rope. Rachel set off ahead scrambling down very proficiently.

As we made our way down the steep drop, we were treated to some fantastic light effects, as the inversion passed above us. We saw amazing sun rays through the inversion and were also treated to a Brocken Spectre (Rachel’s first one).

My big camera was in the rucksack for the rocky descent, so thanks to Rachel for taking the next couple of superb photos with her point and click.

Sun rays above steep drop between Am Bodach and Meall Dearg (photo by Rachel):

Brocken Spectre between Am Bodach and Meall Dearg (photo by Rachel):

Looking back at steep descent from Am Bodach:

Looking back to steep drop from Am Bodach (Photo by Rachel):

Looking back to the steep rocky descent, we wondered did we really just scramble down that! Thankfully, it was easier than it looked.

Looking back to Am Bodach:

After the rocky down-climb, it didn’t take long for us to reach Meall Dearg, the first Munro. We stopped for a short break at the summit of Meall Dearg and took a number of photos. We also had a chat with the group we had met during the ascent of Am Bodach, who were roped-up for the traverse.

Rachel at the summit of Meall Dearg:

Myself in man-leg-pose at the summit of Meall Dearg:

Rachel and myself at the summit of Meall Dearg:

Roped party at the summit of Meall Dearg:

From the summit of Meall Dearg, we could see the pinnacles that awaited us.

The pinnacles of the Aonach Eagach beyond Meall Dearg:

The pinnacles of the Aonach Eagach (zoom):

A short distance beyond Meall Dearg, we arrived at a 10m chimney. This was a bit of a bottleneck with three other parties climbing up before us.

Roped party ascending the chimney a short distance beyond Meall Dearg:

Rachel again found the chimney straight-forward and enjoyable. The rope would be staying in the bag for the day .

Rachel ascending the chimney:

Looking along the Aonach Eagach, we have still to do all this!:

Rachel down-scrambling:

As we progressed along the ridge, we worked well as a team taking turns out front route-finding.

There were lots more pinnacles and scrambling sections than I remembered from my previous ascent, although there was nothing encountered that felt particularly scary or uncomfortable.

Several photos follow from the pinnacles.

About to descend a rocky section:

The next wee scramble:

Looking back at short down-climb:

A narrow section of ridge next (photo by Rachel):

Ridge rocks (photo by Rachel):

Another scrambly bit:

Heading for the short wall:

Ascend this wall via the chimney to the left:

Looking back at another rocky descent:

Looking back:

The Mamores:

Beyond the pinnacles, it was great to be able to walk at a much faster pace towards the summit of Stob Coire Leith (Munro Top) with all the difficulties now behind us.

Summit of Stob Coire Leith:

Nice to look back and get views of what we had just traversed.

Rachel with the Aonach Eagach pinnacles now behind us:

As we made our way towards Sgorr nam Fiannaidh, the second Munro, I took a zoomed photo of the Blackwater reservoir. It looked quite nice with its low water level.

Blackwater reservoir (zoom):

We had a good stop at the summit of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh. We had hoped to plank on the summit trig point but alas the trig point is now in a sorry state of disrepair .

Good to reach Munro No. 100, in my second round, although I am still debating whether or not to undertake a second round.

Rachel at the summit of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh:

Myself at the summit of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh:

From the summit of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh, we set off towards the Pap of Glencoe for what is a much more gradual descent than the one direct from Sgorr nam Fiannaidh and the almost suicidal descent next to the Clachaig Gully, which I did back in 2002.

View from start of descent:

As we made our way off the hill, we spotted some wild goats in the distance. I wasn’t aware that there were wild goats in Glen Coe. We decided that it would be worthwhile undertaking a short detour to skirt round behind the goats and sneak-up on them. This plan worked well .

Wild goats in distance (zoom):

Wild goats:

Wild goats:

We then descended lots of stony ground to reach the Pap of Glencoe path, which was much more comfortable underfoot.

View from descent:

Looking back to Sgorr nam Fiannaidh from Pap of Glencoe path:

On reaching the road, it was just a short distance along it to reach the car. A superb day out!!!