A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Mamores & Aonachs

26-28 March 2016
Easter was early this year and we had a right mix of days for 12 folk to enjoy and challenge themselves (not everyone had booked on all days). We had Martin, David, Manny and myself leading on various days...

photo 1 Our first day of this weekend saw us on the eastern Mamores. People had differing aspirations for the day, some wanted to get up to a snowwy summit, some wanted more practice with winter hill-walking and others wanted to bag several Munros. Having a couple of guides helps everyone achieve their goal, so David and myself were leading day and we strode out from Kinlochleven early morning with the group. Up past the beautiful Grey Mares Tail waterfall, we hiked northwards. Gradually the group spread out with the different levels of fitness - I stayed with the back-markers and David made good speed uphill with the others. David's group took a direct ascent of Na Gruagaichean over snow and boulderfield, whereas the rest of us (Justin, Bob, Hayley and Izzy) took a more gentle route up the stalker's path to the col at 783m, from where we followed the mountain crests to Na Gruagaichean's north-west summit.

photo 2 In mist, following the obvious path and also contending with some snow, ice, loose gravel and slimey rock, we bagged this minor summit and the main summit a few hundred metres to the south-west. It was cold and with the mist, no views to be had, we opted for a descent rather than continue onwards. Right choice ! We had a relaxing return to the car-park, just minutes before David and his group arrived - elated that they'd beasted over 3 of the Mamores - Na Gruagaichean. Binnein Mor and Sgurr Eilde Mor.

photo 2 The forecast was for Monday to be the better of the 3 days, so instead of the Ring o'Steall on Sunday, we moved this back to the Monday and aimed up the western Mamores on Sunday instead. Martin was leading Izzy, Hayley, Andrew and Mike. Weather turned out better than expected and with a clockwise route from Achriabhach in Glen Nevis, the group aimed up the stalkers path following the Allt Coire a'Mhusgain. Up to the snow level, Stob Ban was bagged and Mullach nan Coirean shortly thereafter. A great day !

photo 3 Leaving Aviemore on Monday morning there was a fresh dusting of snow on the hills. The further west we drove, the thicker the snow on the mountains - a lot of white stuff had fallen overnight. We debated in the car our options, but the one thing we knew was we wouldn't be able to get the group over the Ring o'Steall in these conditions. Meeting up with the group in Glen Nevis, Martin, Manny and myself had a quick chat with the group and we settled on Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag - still a great outing in these conditions. We began walking up the Steall path (it's a bit erroded in bits) and up to the Steall Waterfall. "Anyone want to play on the wire bridge ?" I asked, nope just Neall was brave enough !

photo 3 Up towards the southern slopes of Aonach Beag, we were quickly plodding through snow. Then kicking steps. Then out with ice-axes. Further on, by the impressive cornices above An Aghaidh Gharbh, we had a break to take in the views and put on crampons. We reached the summit of Aonach Beag, the cairn buried by snow, I kept well away from the huge overhanging (and probably unstable) cornice. As one of the group was being pushed by time we hatched a plan - most of the group would head on over Aonach Mor and take the gondola down to the Pine Martin cafe and I would return with Mike to Glen Nevis. The plan worked a treat, Mike catching his flight and I picked up the group from the cafe. An epic day with some cracking views !

Some more photos are up on Flickr.

We'll be back on the Mamores in October, more info here.

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