Sunday, 15 October 2006

Ring of Steall (almost)

Sunday 15th October

What a contrast to yesterday's cloud and wind on the Easains.  The sky this morning was unbroken blue, with the hills appearing above a layer of mist.  Superb.  

(below) The Aonachs and Ben Nevis

Despite three consecutive days on the hill, this was too good a day to waste, so I set off to meet colleague Frank Frame at his cottage in Glen Nevis.  The plan - to complete the "ring of Steall".   

We parked at the head of the glen at 9.30, and set off up the lovely wooded track to Steall.  First obstacle - crossing the river on the wire bridge (right)!   

After that, the rest of the walk was child's play!

The path was a bit tricky round below the base of the falls, where we needed to cling on to some branches to avoid getting our feet wet or in the mud.

Soon, however, we were ascending steadily up a zig-zag path in the north coire of An Gearanach.  Talking so much that I didn't really notice how much we were climbing on the superbly engineered stalkers' path, until we came out onto the shoulder above Coire a'Mhaill, at about 600m.  A superb viewpoint for Ben Nevis (left).

A short steep final section of ridge, and we were standing on the summit (12 noon).

The hard work was now behind us, so we could enjoy the views and the scramble (easy enough_ along the rough ridge to An Garbhanach.  

A short descent (120m) to the bealach at 857m, then a similar climb up rough curving ridge to Stob Coire A' Chairn (1pm).  

So here I am (right) on Munro number 200!

We decided to keep going to the next top, Am Bodach ("the old man"), before stopping for lunch (2pm).  Munro 201!

From Am Bodach the two Bodachs(!) continued down the gentler ridge and round onto Sgorr an Iubhair.  The plan had been to continue along the Devil's Ridge to Sgurr a' Mhaim - but Frank's knee (getting stiff) and Frank's wife (expecting us back by 4.30pm) meant we had to leave that for another day.  Instead we descended to the wee lochan, then made a rapid descent down the path through Coire Mhusgain.  We were only 15 minutes late!  ... and exhausted!

Superb day.

(written 15/03/10)
PS  Anne and I returned to climb Sgurr A' Mhaim and the Devil's Ridge on an equally splendid day in July 2008.  I'll get round to describing that in due course!

Saturday, 14 October 2006

October At Roy Bridge

So, back to good old Scotland after a summer in France and Germany ...

A "bungalow" for 4 at the Tighean Beaga in Roy Bridge - cheap and cheerful, but near some Munros waiting to be climbed.  It was a wet day after some damp weather when we arrived, and spirits weren't particularly high as we drove up the muddy potholed track to our residence.  It turned out to be 4 very fruitful days!

Day 1: Thursday 12th

Today was blustery, but the cloud was high with only a few showers around.  Parking at the top of Glen Nevis, we set off on foot at 10am.

The Steall waterfall was in full flow and the paths soggy underfoot, but by 1pm we had reached the bealach between Aonach Beag (right background) and Sgurr Choinnich Beag (the wee dark peak in the centre), our first target, a short but steep climb.  

15 mins rest on top, then a short drop and up the ridge to today's Munro, Sgurr Choinnich Mor (seen here from a short way beyond the summit, down the east ridge).

Good views from here along the "back" or the Grey Corries to Stob Ban.  Contoured round Sgurr Choinnich Beag to reach the car in 3 hours.   Munro 195 for me.

Day 2: Friday 13th

Nothing unlucky about it!  

Marjory and Roger had come up from Edinburgh to join us on Thursday evening.  Today they climbed Stob Ban, while Anne and I headed up Glen Quoich to climb Sgurr a' Mhaoraich.  Last time here, we had turned back on hard snow slopes just below the summit, but this time there were no such obstacles.  

(left) view east along the ridge from just below the summit

Leaving the car at 10.40, we made speedy progress up the superb stalkers' path, stopping for lunch on the high point of Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach.   The cloud was just lifting off the top, as we set off up the twisting craggy summit ridge.  

Summit at 2pm.  

Anne found a sheltered spot while I nipped across to the outlying top Sgurr a' Mhaoraich Beag - worthwhile for the excellent views down to Kinlochhourn (right).  

Lovely hazy afternoon light on Loch Quoich as we returned to the car by the same route at around 5pm (below).

Day 3 Saturday 14th

After two good days, Saturday didn't look very good - low ragged cloud and brisk southerly wind.  However, Marjory and Roger were insistent we should have a go at the Easains.  So, off we headed to Fersit, and started out on foot at 9.30am along the track to the dam, then on up a forest road until a boggy path led off towards the ridge.

Once on the ridge, the going was fairly easy, but not particularly pleasant - buffeted by the wind, soggy underfoot, and no views.  We plodded onwards, and reached the first summit (Stob a' Choire Mheadhoin) at 1pm.  

We "cooried doon" behind the cairn (left) for a bite of lunch, then hurried off down and up to Stob Coire Easain.  

Rested there a while, hoping the sky might clear for a view, but after 20 minutes, decided it was a forlorn hope, so headed back across the bealach to Stob Coire a'Mheadhoin (does that count as a 2nd ascent?).

Headed on downwards by the same route, with the cloud clearing as we got lower (right).  Back to the car at 5.45pm. 

There must be good view from up there, so it was a pity to climb it on such a poor day.  Still, it didn't rain, and the Munro tally now at 198!

Continued on next blog ...

(written 15/03/10)