UKC

Aonach Eagach , advice

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 wolfbane 18 Jul 2021

Hello

Aonach Eagach is something I would very much like to try , as with many places there so much different advice. I hope people whom have had experience of Aonach Eagach can help maybe make things a little clearer please . To attempt for the first time is East to West better or West to East, if conditions are fine clear and dry - is a rope needed, and would an experienced guide be an essential   requirement, ( not used a guide before , but iam good with that if recommended). I know Anoach Eagach is much more challenging and much longer than more or less everything in England and Wales when it comes to ridges, I have more than once completed  crib goch , striding edge , sharp edge etc , in summer and some in winter - which I usually prefer when hiking to some summits, any experienced advice would be very much appreciated, thanks

 abr1966 18 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

Like you say....you'll get different advice!

My view...east to west! If you've done crib Goch etc you should be ok. In summer with dry conditions and little wind no rope....just pick your way over. The scrambling parts are not difficult but there is a bit more exposure to contend with. 2 cars is ideal or you'll be walking back up the Glen for a long day...enjoy!

 wolfbane 18 Jul 2021
In reply to abr1966:

Great, many thanks 

 girlymonkey 18 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

Walkers will tell you it's the scariest thing on the planet, but if you are a climber then it is a pleasant day out. We took my mother-in-law (not a climber) along it. She asked for a rope on 3 short sections, but never actually weighted the rope, it just gave her peace of mind. 

I have always managed to hitch back to the car at the end.

Save it for a good day - the views are stunning.

Have fun

 wolfbane 18 Jul 2021
In reply to girlymonkey:

Good stuff , thank you

 65 18 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

Hi. Going by the experience you already have and especially in winter, I think you'd enjoy the AE without finding it overly intimidating. There is a lot more in the way of reasonably exposed scrambling than on the other routes you list but nothing more difficult. If you do it east to west, which is how most people do it, you will get a good flavour of it as the initial ascent off Am Bodach is one of the most spectacular passages. If you feel fit, get to the other end, turn round and go back along it which will save the hassle of getting back to your car. It's good in both directions. Re the descent off the west end, don't go down the Clachaig Gully path. It's steep and loose and it's easy to go the wrong way, lots of bad accidents over the years. For ref, I've been along it well over 20 times though not for a couple of decades. It's still my favourite day out in the Highlands.

 wolfbane 18 Jul 2021
In reply to 65:

Thanks , much appreciated

 peppermill 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

Yeah you'll enjoy it, did it as West-East as day 2 of a Glencoe round type thing last year. It was damp from the clouds and super slippy but fine as long as you took care. 

Regarding the guide, depends on your experience and whether you want to give somebody a day's work! If you're used to rock or winter climbing then it will feel like an exposed walk with a couple of climbyish sections and generally just a great mountain day out almost at the road side. 

Worth bearing in mind that if you do it East-West there's a pub at the end ;p

 jpicksley 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

I've done it once, east to west in dry conditions. I'm an experienced walker and climber. I found it technically fine and didn't use a rope. I did, however, find the fairly constant high level of exposure a bit wearing and found that I was quite relieved when I got off it. I was with a mate who is similar to me in terms of experience and he found it the same. I have wondered a few times if we wound each other up which is definitely possible. It seems to me that it's in that grey area of exposed scrambling where you tend not to use a rope and you'll most likely be absolutely fine but the consequences of a mistake are very high in certain places. As has been pointed out, you'll get various opinions and only you will know your experience and how you may react when you're up there so to some extent the only real way of finding out is to go and try it Take a short rope if you're unsure. There's no disgrace in using it for confidence and it might make the difference between doing it and not doing it.

 Basemetal 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

I'd go East to West, but then if you're feeling fit and comfortable and enjoyed it, I'd go back west again rather than descend the East. It lets you away with one car or avoids a long descent and traipse along the road. It also means you'll have "done it both ways"

 wolfbane 19 Jul 2021
In reply to peppermill:

Many thanks

 wolfbane 19 Jul 2021
In reply to jpicksley:

Sound advice, thank you 

 wolfbane 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Basemetal:

yes, thank you , my hikes rarely go beyond 20 km, but certainly worth considering the return route.

 Basemetal 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Basemetal:

Should have said...

" I'd go East to West, but then if you're feeling fit and comfortable and enjoyed it, I'd go back EAST again rather than descend the WEST. It lets you away with one car or avoids a long descent and traipse along the road. It also means you'll have "done it both ways" "

I messed up East & West in my original, Sorry! I was too late to edit, but I think you got the drift anyhoo....

 henwardian 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

I'm afraid I can't compare with your English/Welsh examples as I have not done them.

The Anoach Eagach is a scramble but it is one where a slip and fall could easily be fatal. There isn't anything technical about it and a decade or two ago the EUMC used to take 30 or 40 students along it for the first trip of the year. As you can imagine, plenty of these students had little to no experience, questionable footwear and so on and there weren't any falls or injuries on the ridge in the years I was in the club. At least in some years an older student would bring a rope and a couple of other things with the idea that if someone really freaked out, it would be a good idea to have them as a sort of confidence booster (I don't ever remember them being used).

However!

One year there was a guy doing the ridge at the same time as us who was there alone and he went a bit off route and fell off. He fell about 1000 to 1500ft and was quite badly injured. He was attended by a couple of medical students and despite their administrations survived till the helicopter arrived (I believe he made a full recovery).

I would say that overall, it isn't a question of difficulty, it is a question of consequences. The chances of you falling are very low as it is very easy BUT if you do, the consequences will be very serious.

In reply to wolfbane:

We did the traverse from east to west in the wet and there was always something positive for you hands although on one downclimb you needed to hunt a little. In the dry it should be pretty easy. The bits that look the most amazing were the easy bits I found although this was probably because of the wet. Don't be tempted into avoiding things by detouring onto steep grass, the climbing is always preferable.

 wolfbane 19 Jul 2021
In reply to henwardian:

WOW, , a 1500ft fall .. and survived , that person was very lucky indeed.

Thanks you for your advice.

 wolfbane 19 Jul 2021
In reply to timparkin:

Great , thank you.

 Gazed83 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

I did it for the first time a few weeks ago. I camped in Glen Etive just off the road, then had a 5a start as a hot day was forecast. I decided on a double traverse, doing it East to West, and then back across West to East back to the car. It worked really well, and seemed much better than trying to catch a lift, or worse, walk back along the road. It took me 6 hours car to car. So I'd recommend this way if you're confident and move efficiently over grade 1/2 terrain. 

Post edited at 11:58
 wolfbane 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Gazed83:

Many thanks , yes I was considering camping also.

 Basemetal 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

> Many thanks , yes I was considering camping also.

Camp on top of Am Bodach?

youtube.com/watch?v=vz7M3U99p34&

Post edited at 12:10
 Johnhi 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

If I ever did the AE again, it would be east to west, then re-tracing my steps back east along the ridge.  

 Andy Hardy 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

Cheesy 90's vid of the ridge - should allay your fears!

youtube.com/watch?v=07QDrCLBHSo&

 wolfbane 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Basemetal:

yes, thanks, a good option, ..just watched the youtube you recommended ,  all good 

 wolfbane 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Andy Hardy:

Going from East to West , if upon deciding not to return back over the ridge from the West to the East , is there any public transport to get you back to your car or campsite in East ? 

 Andy Hardy 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

We hitched back to the clachaig after doing it. I've seen busses in the glen but I don't know if there's a stop at either end

 Graeme G 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

The walk back is not very long. Worth hitching, but not worth waiting on a bus IMO.

 65 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Gazed83:

> had a 5a start 

Definitely off route!

In reply to wolfbane:

The only time I've ever done it was east to west. We came down steep grass to the (north) side of Clachaig Gully. I don't remember it being too bad - very steep, but a small, zig-zag path, and frankly a lot less scary than almost all descents to sea cliffs (e.g. Gogarth). It wasn't even in good/ dry condition because there was snow/ice on the crest of the ridge. This took us more or less straight to the Clachaig. Because I was the driver, my car was parked below the east end of the traverse, so I {nobly} left Robert in the pub and walked the whole way up Glencoe to retrieve it. I was hoping to hitch a lift but I think, amazingly, not a single car passed me. I think it was at least an hour before I got back to the pub.

 Sean Kelly 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

I've done this 4 times in both summer & winter. It's  a great day out if you take reasonable care. But beware the descent if going east to west. Traverse along to the col just before the Pap and a good path goes down to near the YH. On no account think it is a good idea to descend beside Clachaig Gully which is fraught with difficulties. The trickiest part is crossing the pinnacles, best done on the L. and can be done sliding down on your bum on the slabby bit. Also care required on the descent off Am Bodach. Good luck.

 DaveHK 19 Jul 2021
In reply to 65:

> Definitely off route!

Maybe they did the sit down start.

 65 19 Jul 2021
In reply to DaveHK:

> Maybe they did the sit down start.

Dammit, another route I'll never do.

 henwardian 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

> WOW, , a 1500ft fall .. and survived , that person was very lucky indeed.

It might have been closer to 1000ft, it was a long time ago and I have no easy way to estimate the distance. He fell from just in front of us (but out of sight), I remember seeing him bouncing down the hillside below and we did think he was dead when he finally stopped. He was far enough away that all I could really see was a coloured blob but I could make out when he starting moving after a few minutes of being still. Obviously the fall was mainly ragdolling down rocks and steep grass, not a vertical plummet (in which case most people wouldn't survive more than about 20 metres unless they were extremely lucky).

 wolfbane 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Thanks Gordon , all useful info

 wolfbane 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Sean Kelly:

So is best to swerve Clachaig Gully area  Sean ?

 Graeme G 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

Yes. 

 65 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

> So is best to swerve Clachaig Gully area  Sean ?

Clachaig Gully path was my standard route down, or up if I was going that way, but, I knew it like the back of my hand (I ran up it frequently) and, like Gordon, I was a competent climber. The being a climber bit isn't about how difficult the path is but about one's mindset. I can think of lots of descents to sea cliffs or down from crags which rock climbers do as a matter of course but which would be at the serious and/or terrifying end of what might be considered scrambling. Objectively, the parts of the path which follow the edge of the gully (most of it) are on fairly unstable ground.

With the caveat that I haven't been there in over two decades and mountains can change, the two best ways down were either a steep scree path which descended to the junction where the old road meets the main A82, or carry on to the Pap. The latter is recommended, for the views, and because it seems rude not to.

Post edited at 23:11
 Ramblin dave 19 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

I'd echo what others have said, really - if you've done Crib Goch, Sharp Edge, or maybe Tryfan N Ridge, Bristly Ridge, Jack's Rake etc and thought "that was fun, shame the interesting bit was over so quickly" then you should be fine. It's basically a little harder, a bit more exposed and a lot longer.

Not sure about it being much more challenging than anything in England and Wales though! I enjoyed the Aonach Eagach and there's plenty of stuff South of the border that I'd be too much of a wuss to do without a rope, if at all...

 wolfbane 20 Jul 2021
In reply to 65:

Thanks again 65, taking notes , all appreciated

 wolfbane 20 Jul 2021
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Many thanks Ramblin dave,  AE   I think is much longer than other ridges ive been on , so as too be more focused longer because the length of it hence likely more challenging maybe , I was up  Crib Goch last friday 16th July, I was fine with that , and sharp edge a few weeks previously , I have done striding edge a number of times in the winters - all good, I do prefer wintry conditions , but want to try AE  first time in dry conditions hopefully with little to nil wind

 Sean Kelly 20 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

> So is best to swerve Clachaig Gully area  Sean ?

Yes if going E to W then swing to the right towards the Pap of Glencoe after the 2nd Munro, and a good path down.

 mountainbagger 20 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

> Many thanks Ramblin dave,  AE   I think is much longer than other ridges ive been on , so as too be more focused longer because the length of it hence likely more challenging maybe , I was up  Crib Goch last friday 16th July, I was fine with that , and sharp edge a few weeks previously , I have done striding edge a number of times in the winters - all good, I do prefer wintry conditions , but want to try AE  first time in dry conditions hopefully with little to nil wind

I had a bit more scrambling experience than you, including some (very) easy climbing when I did it. Glorious dry weather end of September, not much wind, did it east to west. In the preceding 3 weeks I'd been scrambling and walking all over the west and north (probably some scrambles technically harder than AE) so fully warmed up! Walked to start from Clachaig Inn (didn't take long, path just by the road but not on the road). I almost cried (with joy!) at how great a ridge it was...it really is deserving of its reputation. Took the easy path off the end towards the Pap, but somehow got a bit lost near the road! Probably so desperate for celebratory beers I missed a turn ☺️

What am I telling you that hasn't already been said? Nothing really, just emphasizing it is worth waiting for a good weather window, and to be comfortable with exposed ridges and grade 1 to 2 scrambling.

 Moacs 20 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

If you've done Sharp Edge and Crib Goch you don't need a guide.

Starting East is less ascent and finishes at the pub. Keep well west on descent to stay away from the gully.

Starting West is easier to park and easy to avoid the gully, but you'll be crossing more people on the way.

Enjoy it, it's a treat.

 wolfbane 20 Jul 2021
In reply to mountainbagger:

Thanks mountainbagger

 wolfbane 20 Jul 2021
In reply to Moacs:

all good advice , thanks Moacs

 wolfbane 21 Jul 2021
In reply to 65:

Hi again 65, one of the routes you mentioned coming down would  this be -   descending directly South down the steep scree slopes following the Allt an t Sidhein ,  ending very close to Loch Achtriochtan ?

Post edited at 14:35
 Graeme G 21 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

Yes. Pretty much arrives at the lower car park. I’ve done it multiple times, in all weathers and one measure I was once told is that if you can handle the initial descent from Am Bodach, you can handle the whole route.

 Mike-W-99 21 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

> Hi again 65, one of the routes you mentioned coming down would  this be -   descending directly South down the steep scree slopes following the Allt an t Sidhein ,  ending very close to Loch Achtriochtan ?

If you double back to NN 14497 58274 you can descend there to the big lay-by on the a82. Not a pleasant experience but it does work.

 65 21 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

Yes, it comes out at the west end of Loch Achtriochtan.

Graeme G: well put, the descent of Am Bodach is the perfect benchmark for the rest of the ridge, especially seeing as it's right at the start.

 wolfbane 21 Jul 2021
In reply to Mike-W-99:

Thanks Mike

 wolfbane 21 Jul 2021
 wolfbane 21 Jul 2021
In reply to Graeme G:

Cheers Graeme , thanks

 65 21 Jul 2021
In reply to wolfbane:

You need to let us know how you got on, preferably with some pics too.

 wolfbane 22 Jul 2021
In reply to 65:

Will do , when I can get some further free time, so most likely in about 6 to 8 weeks hopefully,  will be staying a few days in the area  in week days. I wont forget , and thanks again  for advice - and everyone whos responded .


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