The hike was almost as good as the crazy sauna party we had the previous day in our hotel. It was very strange because last summer, I had already more or less done the route we were now doing. The landscape, so green in early September, was now barely recognizable. The slopes of the mountains were all white and grey. It accentuated the feeling of loneliness and remoteness from civilization.
The route was amazing. We spent the day walking on a breathtaking ridge, admiring the surrounding mountains that were all well known by hikers. Indeed, we were following a section of the famous route of the Ring of Steall. It was a long walk during which we have benn able to experience many different mountaineering situations, and actually, all of the situations needed for a walk to be great.
First, we walked in the valley located north of Kinlochleven. It wasn’t very interesting but we felt the strength of the surrounding snow-covered mountains that we would soon be climbing. Then, we went straight to a col, struggling an a slippery slope. Once arrived, we progressed in a thick fog until the top of a first Munro. There was beginning a well defined ridge that took us to the bottom of the northeast face of the mountain of Am Bodach. It was the hardest part here. The slope was in the shadow of the mountain and the snow was frozen, therefore extremely slippery. We put our crampons on and started to climb. We struggled and struggled, until the top was finally in sight. We were very happy to reach it. It was now extremely sunny and quiet. The view was priceless. We could basically see everything miles away, including two of the most famous symbols of the Scottish Highlands: Aonach Eagach and Ben Nevis.
On the top of Am Bodach, I met a guy from Czech who was soloing. We had the pleasure to walk on the way down with him. It was extremely windy and my friends and I could barely stand. We succeeded to reach a col from which we sledged down in a peaceful and green valley. It was very quiet and beautiful. It was protected from the wind. The sound of the water of a stream was like music. Some birds were singing.
We took our time, enjoying the moment, to be finally rewarded of our efforts with a colorful sunset over Loch Leven.
– February 2011
On the way to the col of Stob Coire a’ Chairn and Na Gruagaichean.
Going straight up to the col.
The majesty of Am Bodach, also known as The Old Man.
South face of Stob Coire a’ Chairn, one of the first munros I have climbed in September 2010 during my first adventure in the Highlands!
The Strathclyde University Mountaineering Club team gathering for a short break at the col.
Am Bodach from the col of Stob Coire a’ Chairn.
Two fellows contending against the wind to reach the top of Stob Coire a’ Chairn.
The summit of Stob Coire a’ Chairn finally in sight.
The ridge of An Gharbanach and An Gearanach. I had climbed it to go to the Nevis Gorges during my first trek in Scotland during the summer. Strange to see the same mountains, but white!
The ridge between Stob Coire a’ Chairn and Am Bodach, a section of the Ring of Steall, one of the most famous mountaineering route in Scotland.
Enjoying our time on the amazing ridge leading to Am Bodach.
From left to right : Valley of Alt Coire na Bà with the village of Kinlochleven in the distance, the ridge to Am Bodach, Sgurr an Lubhair, the Devil’s Ridge, Sgurr a’ Mhaim, Ben Nevis.
Sight on Am Bodach. Can you see the two mountaineers?
Breathtaking view on the valley of Cnoc Reamhar, Glen Nevis and Ben Nevis.
From left to right : Sron Coire nan Cnamh, Glen Nevis, Ben Nevis and the CMD (behind the cloud), An Gearanach and An Gharbanach, Stob Coire a’ Chairn, Gharb Choire.
Tricky section on the North face of Am Bodach.
Going through the most difficult section of the day. It required a wee bit of technique with the crampons and iceaxes since the snow had turned into ice. You don’t want to slip.
Impressive colors on the slopes of Na Gruagaichean.
Glen Nevis and Ben Nevis from Am Bodach.
From the top of Am Bodach, looking South. Amid the many mountains, you can see the Aonach Eagach ridge and the Pap of Glencoe. The lake is Loch Leven.
From left to right : Loch Leven, the Aonach Eagach ridge, the Pap of Glencoe, Sgorr Deargh and Sgurr Dhonuill (the high moutain in the far distance), Tom nan Corp and Beinn na Caillich (right hand-side of the lake), Stob Ban, Sgurr an Lubhair, the Devil’s ridge, Sgurr a’ Mhaim, Ben Nevis and the CMD, and far right An Gearanach.
Going down to Kinlochleven, contending against a severe gale, as you can guess from the shape of the clouds.
Am Bodach from the col with Sgurr an Lubhair.
Final walk in a peaceful valley that I called the valley of tranquility… tho I fell more that once because of the dang slippery mud!
Impressive scenery as we arrive in Kinlochleven.
Tribute to the best Scottish restaurant of the Highlands, the real food cafe in Tyndrum. It is a tradition with the SUMC to stop there and have a good Fish & Chips during the trips. I first went to this restaurant when I was almost dead of hypothermia in 2010 after a failed attempt to climb Ben Challum by an aweful day.
Thanks to the SUMC for organizing these unforgettable trips in the Scottish Highlands.
Visit the Strathclyde University Mountaineering webpage