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The Munros
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Aonach Eagach

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This is generally agreed to be one of the best ridge traverses in Scotland; it is also the most difficult, mainly due to several rocky pinnacles which have to be crossed but also due to the committing nature of the ridge between the two Munros, Meall Dearg to the east and Sgorr nam Fiannaidh to the west.

There is no safe descent off the ridge between these two peaks; once you have started, either finish or retrace your steps. Its name means notched ridge, due to the gullies and pinnacles along the route.

The difficulties are not so much technical as exposed and in places slightly awkward - one of the difficult bits for example involves a descending slabby ledge which is also exposed. Many hillwalkers would probably be happy to at least carry a short scrambling rope for security if needed.

The walk is invariably done from east to west; some height is thus gained as the road is higher towards the east and also the views to the west are finer. You could be awkward and do it in reverse, therefore probably incurring some delays as you wait for parties coming from the east!

Start a few hundred metres west of the cottage at Allt-na-reigh and strike steeply up the hillside to gain the south east ridge of Am Bodach (943m), the most easterly peak of the ridge. The traverse lies before you now, with a descent to the west leading to a sharp drop of about 20m. Go down ledges on the north then traverse left to the ridge where a steep descent is provided with good holds (rope useful for some). Continue along the ridge, one awkward descent en route, then a small top followed by an easy slope leading to Meall Dearg (953m; 161 584).

Now comes the "pinnacle" of the traverse, with several scrambly sections taking in pinnacles, notches, gullies and other exposed sections between Meall Dearg and the col below Stob Coire Leith, a distance of about 800m. The scenery is awesome, especially looking down to the Glencoe road and over to Bidean, and the exposure exciting but the rock is mostly good and a steady approach wins the day. Difficulties end once the col is reached, leaving a steep ascent to gain Stob Coire Leith at 940m followed by the easy and level ridge to the second Munro, Sgorr nam Fiannaidh.

The descent from a traverse of the ridge used to take the path down the west side of Clachaig Gully, above the Clachaig Hotel but in the last decade or two this has become severely eroded and dangerously loose. Instead, from Sgorr nam Fiannaidh head directly south down a steep slope, with rocks at the top merging into grassy slopes lower down. Stay on the spur and avoid entering a gully lower down.

Some may wish to avoid any possibility of steep descent by continuing the traverse further west, going about 750m west from Sgorr nam Fiannaidh then about 1 km NNW, which will take one to the col beneath the Pap of Glencoe. Now descend SW on a path, which leads down to the old road between the Clachaig Hotel and Glencoe village.


Maps: OS Sheet 41 'Ben Nevis, Fort William & Glen Coe'
Distance: 6 km
Ascent: 1000 m
Time: 5 hours
Food & Drink: You can conveniently drop into the Clachaig Hotel, which is close to the finish of the traverse and caters for climbers and walkers.


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