Sunday, 24 February 2013

Alpine day on the Eagach

Yesterday Dan and I headed up north to climb the classic Aonach Eagach ridge which has been on our wish list for some time now, and what a perfect day to do it! The weather got better and better and resulted by noon in a stellar day!
With the recent stable weather of the past week I knew the ridge would be in good condition and should go for us without any issues. The ridge from Am Bodach onwards still has a cover of snow, mostly continous, which is pretty much all neve now, the pinnicles and rock are bare of any snow and are dry, which left the ridge in the simplest of winter conditions.
We arrived at the parking spot and set of at 7.40am. There was already two cars in the parking area so we knew there was more than likely teams ahead of us. After slogging up the steep slopes of Am Bodach to its summit, we geared up and got the rope out. Having not done the route before we thought it was probably best to do so, so we decided we would approach the route alpine style and move together.
We down climbed the first awkward section descending Am Bodach and we were soon on with the route. Having managed to get passed a team who were moving verrryyy slow we arrived at the summit of Meall derg.
After Meall derg the route starts to get really interesting with lots of small sections of climbing/ down climbing and it was here we passed a second team who weren't moving to quickly either.

We then tackled the pinnacles which were good fun, we again moved together over them as we didn't need to pitch or abseil anything today.
More small sections of climbing and down climbing followed, the ridge here gets fairly narrow in places and is also quite exposed.

The remainder of the ridge is straight forward, a nice plod. We reached Stob coire Leith and then up the final rise to the summit of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh.
We opted to see the ridge out to its end and descend the col just before the Pap of Glencoe instead of making a shorter descent directly south of the summit before the Clachaig gully as some teams do.
By the end of the ridge we couldn't see any of the other slower parties behind us along the ridge, just a lone soloist who must have also passed them.
Speed is defiantly of the essence on this route to avoid a big day or possibly benightment, and also alpine experience goes a long way as teams were putting in pitches which is very slow going.
We did the route road to road in 5.50 hours, (this could be shortened by taking the shorter descent although it is advised to descend the col).
We then had the 6km walk back to retrieve the car, although once we reached the Clachaig Inn, Dan took one for the team and left me in the pub, (and a couple of pints) with the packs whilst he jogged back for the car!
Clachaig to the Aonach Eagach parking spot up the A82 jogging and drove back in 50 mins.......
Fair to say, I bought him his dinner!

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