It was the Friday night of our February winter meet . We were the first to arrive at the Alex McIntyre hut near North Ballachulish and had ventured out in search of somewhere to eat . As we doubled back from a wrong turn in search of the Loch Leven Hotel John B took a call from Andy A suggesting the forecast for the following day favoured doing the Aonach Eogach ridge. The conversation continued and the next thing I knew we were committed !
The following day we rose at seven and following a quick breakfast were ferried by Andy F to the start point near Jimmy Saville's old 'cottage'.
The walk began with a fairly brutal 1500 ft ascent and a scramble over crags followed by a series of snow fields and our first Summit of the day , Meall Dearg, where we paused for photos.
From then on we were on the Aonach Eogach ridge, the most exposed ridge walk in Great Britain abd conditions wise it was shaping up be a perfect winter day.
The first major obstacle was a grade 2 descent requiring rope work and following a short delay Dave Owen belayed four of us down the first pitch. At the second pitch we had an extended stay on a fairly exposed ledge as we waited for the parties in front to descend. Once safely down we continued along the undulating ridge line which alternated between broad highway and ribbon like path towards a section known as the Pinnacles.
As the scrambling intensified I presumed we'd reached the Pinnacles until Dave announced we had in fact reached the 'crazy pinnacles' .As I was to discover , this section wasn't named without good reason. Without being tied on I felt very exposed at times but once safely over there was almost a sense of euphoria knowing one of the most difficult sections was behind us. From that point we felt free to enjoy the surrounding panorama which myself and John B acknowledged with a celebratory high five. As we reached the final summit, Sgor nam Fiannaidh , we were treated to stunning views of Loch Linnhe and the Ballachulish Bridge before beginning the long descent to Glencoe village. The initial gradient demanded our full attention but as it slackened we felt able to relax and one by one,we each practiced sliding and braking with the ice axe until the snow had all but disappeared. Our final descent brought us out on the tarmac lane leading to the famous Clachaig Inn where we enjoyed a well earned pint of Scotland's finest.
To myself and John B , the newest club members in the party , the day felt like it had been a rite of passage.
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