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 the ridge that day as Neil, Ross and I traversed the ridge entirely in mist. Last week, Rachel sent me a text asking if I was free to hillwalk on Friday. I advised yes and suggested, “How about the Aonach Eagach?” I only needed two 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 for her first round so we agreed to travel down to Glen Coe on the Thursday evening to allow for an early start in the morning.

On Friday, after leaving a car at the west-end of the ridge, we traversed the Aonach Eagach from east to west on what turned out to be an outstanding day.

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 great views of Bidean nam Bian, my last first-round Munro, which I 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 that had set off five minutes before us. Throughout the walk, we chatted with this group at various stops along the ridge.

Ascending Am Bodach:

The good path made for a fast ascent.

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. Our decision to go from east to west was a good one. 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 could even make out the large summit cairn.

Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg (zoom):

More inversion:

Rachel taking a photo:

We reached the summit of Am Bodach, a Munro Top, roughly 90 minutes after setting off. We weren't sure how Rachel would cope with the scrambling on the ridge so we had carried a rope and harnesses just in case some confidence roping was required. At the top of Am Bodach, we put on our harnesses as I knew soon thereafter there was steep 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. On this occasion we decided against the diversion to visit this rocky outcrop.

The Chancellor:

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

As we made our way down we were treated to some fantastic light effects as the inversion passed above us. We saw sun rays through the inversion and were also treated to a Brocken Spectre (Rachel’s first). Rachel hadn't heard of a Brocken Spectre and when I pointed it out she thought I said there's a rock inspector .

My DSLR went into 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 the steep descent of Am Bodach:

After the rocky down-climb, it didn’t take long for us to reach the first Munro, Meall Dearg. We stopped for a short break at the summit 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 full traverse.

Rachel at the summit of Meall Dearg:

Man-leg pose at the summit of Meall Dearg:

Rachel and I 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 ahead.

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 bottleneck with three other parties climbing before us.

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

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

Rachel ascending the chimney:

The ridge ahead:

Rachel down-scrambling:

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

There were more pinnacles and scrambling sections than I had remembered from my previous ascent, although nothing encountered felt scary or challenging.

Several photos follow of the pinnacles.

About to descend a rocky section:

The next wee scramble:

Looking back at short down-climb:

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

Ridge rocks (photo by Rachel):

Another scrambly section:

Heading towards a short wall:

Wall ascended via the left chimney:

Looking back at another rocky descent:

Looking back to the pinnacles:

The Mamores:

Beyond the pinnacles, it was great to pick up the pace as we progressed towards the summit of Stob Coire Leith, a Munro Top. All difficulties were now behind us.

Summit of Stob Coire Leith:

Rachel with the Aonach Eagach pinnacles:

As we made our way towards Sgorr nam Fiannaidh, the second Munro, I took a photo of the Blackwater reservoir.

Blackwater reservoir (zoom):

On reaching the summit of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh we had a good stop. Great to reach Munro #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 the much more gradual descent than the almost suicidal descent next to the Clachaig Gully, which I did back in 2002.

View from start of descent:

On making our way off the hill we spotted some feral goats. I wasn’t aware there were feral 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 .

Feral goats in distance (zoom):

Feral goats:

Feral goats:

We then descended stony ground to reach the Pap of Glencoe path.

View during 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!!!