Thursday, May 26, 2016

Highlands trip day 5: Aonach Eagach

We're both definitely noticing the last few days in our legs, so we spend some time deciding what we're going to do, but we finally arrive at where we started: the Aonach Eagach ridge; it just sounds too good to not do. We start in Glen Coe a bit further east from day 1 and climb the other side (north side) of the valley. It's a real Andrea special: straight up the 800m to the ridge on a really nice path with increasingly excellent views behind us of day 1's hike and, as we climb, views opening of the ridge we followed in day 2's scramble. As we near the top we also start to get tantalizing views of the next ridge to the north... the "you're almost there" game goes on for quite a while. After reaching the top (Am Bodach, 943m) we enjoy the views and then find a good wind sheltered spot for a break.
Enjoying the views
The scrambling ahead is calling and our legs are doing fine after the rest, so we continue onwards along the ridge. From Am Bodach we start with scrambling downwards. This is never a favorite, but the rock is great and there are plenty of places to put our feet, so it isn't bad at all. We run into a big group underway with a rope and a guide queued up at the last steep step, but the guide is friendly enough to point us towards an alternate route to down-scramble that section ("if you're feeling confident" ;-)). We continue on the ridge, past the rest of that group, enjoying the views, to the first real Munro of the day (Meall Dearg, 953m). Past this is a bit more down-scrambling to the next saddle, a scramble up through a great chute, and then a bit more walking/scrambling to get to the first promontory on the scrambling bit of the ridge. We're planning on heading back the same way we came, so we keep an eye on everywhere we scramble up to make sure it's also doable in reverse. Great fun. 

Just below the first promontory we find a great spot for a lunch break, so we settle down, rest our legs, and enjoy the sun and the food. After lunch we continue along the ridge, with more excellent scrambling and some nicely exposed bits until we catch up with the other group again at the last promontory before a long descent to a saddle (before the ascent to the Stob Coire Leith). This is essentially the end of the scrambling and it's getting late, so we opt to turn around at this point. The way back along the ridge is just as enjoyable as the way up was and we are, sooner than one would hope, at the end of the ridge and the top of the path back down to the car.
800m of pretty quick descent later and the hiking portion of the trip is over. We take a short break, then pile into the car and head to Edinburgh.

On the track greg ended up hitting "pause" on the watch on the way up, so there's a piece missing at the beginning.

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