Saturday, 17 October 2009

NE Ridge of Aonach Beag





After the discussions on the forums about snow patches that survive year round in Scotland:
I used the Aonach Beag patch as an excuse to go to that peak's NE Ridge on what was a stunning weather day. There was ice on puddles just above the gondola top station and smears of it visible on the N face of Aonach Beag but anywhere in the sun was very pleasant. I crossed Aonach Mor and dropped down left to the snow patch from the bealach beyond. It looks like it has shrunk somewhat in the last month but is still about 25m x 15m. I carried on down the coire to the acompaniement of stags baying and roaring until I reached the ramp which lets you break onto the base of the ridge. Initially its open to much variation (easier on the left) until suddenly it narrows and a tower rears up above you. A devious traverse on the right hand side takes you to a chimney (follow the pegs from winter ascents) that pops you out, with some difficulty, onto the crest of a knife edge arete. You follow a series of delightful narrow flakes until a final broader section brings you to the summit of Aonach Beag.
The walk back down to the col and over Aonach Mor was slower as I couldn't help but stop to admire the views in all directions. Back at the foot of the Gondola I hopped on the bike and cycled home via Torlundy where I bumped into Dan, the head of the Adventure Tourism Management Degree at UHI Lochaber College. He and a friend had a great day on Observatory Ridge and reported a quiet day on the N face of the Ben with only 2 other teams visible, both on Tower Ridge.
A cracking day's mountaineering to be had in Scotland today. A bigger version of the video is available on the video wall to the right.

video

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