Aonach’s and the Grey Corries
Area: Fort William to Loch Treig and Loch Leven
Munro’s: Aonach Beag (Nevis Range), Aonach Mor, Carn Mor Dearg, Sgurr Choinnich Mor, Stob Ban (Grey Corries), Stob Choire Claurigh, Stob Coire an Laoigh
Date walked: 09/07/2011
Time taken: 13 hours
Distance: 34 km
Ok so if you’re reading this please don’t think I have escaped from the asylum although many people would like to put me there hahaha. The weekend was fast arriving and the weather forecast was for rain pretty much all over Scotland in varying degrees.
Now I was gearing up for a walk and the Fannichs were looking favorite. However young Paul (Dooterbang) had posted that he was going up to Dundonnel area to do these next weekend and a second car would come in very useful so a new plan was hatched. I had the North ridge of Glen Nevis to do, barring Ben Nevis itself as I had already done it a few times so I wondered if I could do all the rest in one walk. I was also looking at how I was going to make the route car to car having only one car available. Now I had noticed from the contours on the map and observations of the terrain (having viewed it from the Ring of Steall last week), that a direct ascent from the South side of Ben Nevis/CMD was possible. This would allow me to park at the upper car park In Glen Nevis do the walk and then walk the 14km back to the car.
So up at 0400, excellent breakfast and on my way arriving at the upper car park at 0715ish. Suited and booted and looking for an ascent directly up the hillside to the Bealach below Meall Cuhann by 0730. The weather is ok and the rain has not hit me yet. It’s quite a steep pathless ascent and I am getting pretty warm pretty quickly. After a while I arrive at the Bealach with good views to Aonach Mor and down into the Coire Giubhsachan. There is a path 100m below me going up the valley to the Bealach below Carn Mor Dearg but we don’t want to take that. No, I am heading up to the CMD arête. I now head North keeping height walking into the re-entrant where I imagine water cascades down the valley in spate. There is a massive cleft in the hillside full of boulders which I cross all the time looking for my route up the hillside. There are huge areas of wet slab and a number of scrambles up the rocks but by keeping to the grassy areas in the main I soon scale the steep 500m to the CDM Arete. The rain had started halfway up so waterproofs were donned but it soon stopped. I am in the clag now with limited views but I am pretty much halfway along the Arete and feeling good. I now follow the path which sort of bypasses the immediate top of the rocks but I am soon hopping over the top of the boulders and notice a bypass path below me. No time for that now because I am enjoying the rocks but this is slowing me down. I meet my first walkers of the day. Two young chaps. Well one maybe 16 the other 40 but you know what I mean hahaha. Well done on the youngster for doing the Arete. After a play on the rocks I arrive at the summit of Carn Mor Dearg. The mist lifts a little then descends again.
Ok so off I go heading down to the Bealach. On the way down I can hear voices. Is god speaking to me, is this the end? hahaha no it’s a couple of guys high on Aonach Mor. I arrive at the Bealach and perch myself on a rock for a good feast. The two guys are descending the steep slope but I don’t think one of them is very happy. It is steep Not sure if I would have chosen that route for the descent. After some good refreshments I am ready to go again and the voices have stopped. I think they may have traversed over to the Bealach for a safer descent. I now pick a line up the steep slope. This is quite hard work. After a good ascent I am on the final ascent to Aonach Mor. Another stop for more refreshments and I am soon retracing my steps on the way to Aonach Beag.
The mist has been blindingly white so I put my sunglasses on. Glad I brought them now even though I knew I was unlikely to get sunshine. It’s a quick and easy walk to Aonach Beag and I arrive on the summit wearing sunglasses like some kind of prima donna to be greeted by to other walkers. A good chat was had and I then head off towards Stob Coire Bhealaich. One over this summit I notice a small cairn marking the descent to the Bealach below Sgurr Choinnich Beag. There is also a path heading in the direction of Glen Nevis which would be easy to follow if on auto pilot. So I head down the hillside. This is treacherous. Extremely steep, wet and slippery. I lose the path halfway down and descend the valley directly. That was not for the faint hearted. I meet another walker here and we exchange hello’s. Now I see Sgurr Choinnich Beag ahead of me. As I ascend I was looking for a bypass path but eventually decide just to go straight over the top. It’s a fairly steep climb but doesn’t take long. Now over the top, down to the Bealach and up to the summit of the first of the Grey Corries, Sgurr Choinnich Mor. I now stop again for some refreshments and find I have almost no water left. So I drink what’s left, pack up and move on.
The Grey Corries walk is almost completely on rocks with some grassy bits on the Bealachs. This tends to slow things down a little. I now head down to the Bealach and ascend Stob Coire Easain. There is a great set of buttresses to clamber over halfway up, tremendous stuff, and I am soon heading down the other side and up the ascent to Stob Coire an Laoigh.
The final Munro in the Gray Corries is Stob Choire Claurigh which is clearly visible but looks a long way away and looks much higher. To get to it there is pretty much a ridge walk over Caisteil, Stob Coire Cath Na Sine and Stob a Choire Leith. I pass a group of walkers here having a break and not long afterwards I am on the summit of Stob Coire Claurigh. Two of the walkers passed me on the ascent as I am now feeling the pace and the lack of fluid. There is just nowhere to get a drink on these hills. Stob Ban looks tiny from here being 200m lower. I don’t hang about here. I quickly head down the hillside to the Bealach below Stob ban. There is a Lochan here and I will need to get a drink. I pass a couple of small lochans on the way down and much as I wanted a drink they were pretty static and I couldn’t trust the quality of the water. The rain comes on again as I near the lochan and I stop to put my waterproofs on. The lady and gent I met on the summit of the last Munro both pass me here on there way to Stob Ban. I look up at Stob Ban and it looks huge. Very steep and all scree. Peter has a chat with me that really lifted my spirits before the final ascent. I stopped at the Lochan and filled one water bottle with water, frogs spawn and flies hahaha. A puri tab later and I was heading up the steep slope to the summit. This was murder. Peter had stopped just below the summit for refreshments but I suspect he knew I was struggling and was keeping an eye on me. Thanks a million for that. Finally on the summit and we both play David Bailey. No not some perverse Munro game, just take photos for each other. Peter heads of and I stop for a big drink of lochan water. That was needed. nine and a half hours to cover the Munro’s of choice and now it was a simple matter of the 14km walk out dropping 700m down the hillside, walking 2 miles through boggy wetlands and then following the crappy half bog half rocky up and downy so called path bag to Steall Falls and then climb through the gorge back to the car. That walk out took me three and a half hours. Geez that was tough.
I met some great people on the hills today. The weather was tremendous bearing in mind the open was stalled for a good part of the day due to heavy rain, Danny told me Dunfermline was under feet of rain and as I drove out through Roy Bridge it was apparent the Laggon area had torrential rain. Was I on a parallel planet in a parallel universe hahaha. If so I thank the weather gods for smiling upon me this weekend. I must admit that they smiled on me so much last weekend I was in the early stages of heatstroke when I arrived back at the car hahaha. As the song goes “Life is Life, na na na na na”