Aonach Eagach and Castle Ridge
|Date: 14th to 18th February 2013
Submitted by: George Carleton
Alfie D and I latched onto a wee expedition to Scotland with Mike, Gerard, John and Seamus.
The timing was arranged to coincide with the start of the MI meet in Glen Coe, and the objective was to do what ever the conditions would allow.
On the first full day the avalanche conditions were still high in all areas so we settled on the Aonach Eagach Ridge as a relatively safe option.
After a drizzly start the day improved with the odd flash of blue sky with views of the surrounding mountains. Apart from the 6 of us who were climbing in pairs, we only encountered 2 other teams on the route.
Alfie and I descended to the road following the track shortly after the summit of Sgurr nam Fiannaidh, the others carried on to the col before the Pap of Glen Coe and dropped to the road from there, then into the Clachaig for a well earned pint.
The forecast for the next day was to be wet and windy so we settled on a shorter day on a scramble ridge above Ballaculish, which was a nice wee outing that seen us off the hill and in a coffee shop in Glen Coe by the early afternoon.
Conditions where beginning to settle and the forecast was good for the last full day of the trip, so we set our sights on Castle Ridge on Ben Nevis.
Arriving in the north face car park at around 7.30 it was already full and we took the last two spaces.
The tramp up the track was the usual joy, but Castle Ridge being one of the first climbs on the approach to the CIC hut we were on our route while others were still making there way to the start of their climbs.
It was a good day out, with possibly the best weather I have seen on the Ben. The parties that were in front of us were moving well so there were no major delays which can be the case on such popular routes. We were generally able to move together except on 2 short sections, one of which was the crux which I found spicy enough.
Getting to the top in good time Alfie and I seeing a guide taking his 2 clients down Castle gully thought that it would be a quicker and easier option off the mountain decided to follow.
After what seemed like an endless number of abseils we reached the bottom where we had a play on some ice.
Getting back to the car park we were surprised to see the others had beaten us down by taking the recommended route off the mountain; so much for our shortcut.
On the last day under cool blue skies John and Gerard went for a walk to the Blackwater reservoir above Kinlochleven, while the rest of us lounged about the Ice Factor, before heading back to Glasgow to catch our flight home.
22 Feb 2013
Two excellent days out.two similarly good routes that are ok in poor weather are "Curved Ridge" and "D Buttress" on Buchille Etive Mor. Both have similar difficulty to Castle Ridget
Good to hear stuff is finally happening. Soon be out on the rock after a long winter!