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Aonach Eagach 2001

Aonach Eagach 2001

one of the highlights of the Scottish mountains. A dream still to come through for many British hillwalkers. Traversing the ridge can be dangerous because of the changeable weather in the West Highlands. When traversing in winter, perhaps it's better to say winterconditions, mountainering equipment like crampons, ropes and ice-axe are an absolute must.In May 2001 Jimmy Crawford and I did it in beautifull, windless and dry conditions and even then it isn't for the faint hearted. We were staying in the Glencoe Youth Hostel, 2km southeast of Glencoe Village. Traversing from west to east or east to west means you'll need transportation back to where you started.Two cars can be used or you can try to get a lift back. The latter can be difficult because the A82 is a very busy road and drivers can't just stop on the road. Best is to try to get a lift at one of the parking spaces in the glen.We approached the ridge from the west starting just east from Glencoe Village and ascend to the col between the Pap of Glencoe and Cnap Glas. The col, at 585m, was soon reached and we turned southeastto reach our first Munro, Sgorr nam Fiannaidh (967m). At the cairn we had something to drink and enjoyed the view south to Bidean nam Bian which we were to do the next day.One km further east we crossed Stob Coire Leith (940m). The ridge with all its terrifying pinnacles lay in front of us.The ridge narrows considerably and gets rockier. Jimmy gave me good advise how to go up and down all these obstacles. Some look impossible to pass, and there are hardly any bypasses. I didn't feel uncomfortable at any moment. In rain that would have been totally different I suppose. One of these obstacles, pictured on the right, I had seen in a book about Scotland many years ago before I'd ever set foot on Scottish soil and I'd been wondering how one could pass this roadblock. Today I found out. It wasn't actually difficult and fun to do. More ups and downs followed and some very narrow sections provided exhilirating scrambling. Of course, the going is very slow on such a demanding and exposed ridge where extreme care has to be taken. Some sections even demand politeness and waiting for your turn where you meet other scramblers who decided to tackle the ridge east to west. Pinnacle Ridge itself isn't that long but the going is slow. Meall Dearg, the second Munro , is passed and a final ascend is made to reach the summit of Am Bodach. This last ascent is steep and very intimidating as a descent for those who are going east to west.Shortly after Am Bodach we left the ridge southeast to reach the A82. From the YH we covered 9km which took us most of the day. People withstamina could continue east over some minor tops to reach the WestHighland Way and go down the Devil's staircase to reach the A82, adding an extra 5km.We failed to get a lift right away and we decided to walk back. Five minutes later a tank lorry stopped and gave us a lift back. A couple of minutes later we were dropped of near the old Glencoe road and another couple of minutes later we were at the Clachaig Inn for a well deserved dram or two. A splendid day on a superb ridge.

The Aonach Eagach is

looking back to Sgorr nam Fiannaidh

Stob Coire Leith

Approaching the ridge

Pinnacle Ridge

No bypass, just straight on

A difficult section


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