First attempt to Aonach Eagach.
Last year we climbed Sgor nam Fiannaidh, that is a highest point Aonach Eagach – longest ridge in UK. What I remember from that trip is constantly moaning Hurricane. She complained about “stupid rocks and stupid mountains”, and how she hates those rocky paths. At some point I told her that I just want to leave her on one of the rocks and pick her up on the way down. I was just tired of that constant complains and moaning. After those words she calmed down a bit and finish the climb without a fuss. Suddenly, those rocks and mountains changed from an annoyance to beautiful views, at least that what she said at the top. She was very proud of herself and that achievement so she should be. Froggy was “easier” going, slow but steady. He was told that he can have sandwiches and some sweets at the top, so he kept going. Really proud of the young ones. We even managed to climb Ben Nevis via normal route following day, but that is the story for another time.
Check the story of our first visit here.
This year we decided to repeat that journey and maybe even add Pap of Glencoe to the trip. We prepared sandwiches plus sweets the day before, two flasks of mixed green and lemon with ginger tea, had some filling, energising breakfast, packed our backpacks with stuff for different kinds of weather and set off early morning. The weather forecast said that it should be foggy in the morning and sunny from
midday-ish. Initially it was mildly foggy, road was clear, and because we knew the path from last year, we could move up reasonably quick. Higher we climb the fog become a little denser, there were some moments when you could only see few meters away and hear deer in near distance. Hurricane was a bit scared, but she kept going. This time it was Froggy that was moody, so journey become a little tiring.
Foggy and slippery.
First part of the journey, to the junction between Pap of Glencoe and Aonach Eagach was quite quick, even despite fact that fog was dense at times with visibility of few meters making whole journey just cold. The path towards Aonach Eagach was more challenging this year due to slippery rocks and foggy/cold weather, still because of walking poles (that we have not use much in the past) we could climb with reasonable pace. We also chose slightly different path to the top, trying to play safe and try follow not very visible track. That is something different to other places we hiked so far and can be challenging for beginners – lack of clearly visual track. In there you try to follow a ‘’paler’’ rocks, it looks like path but has no clearly marked signs. You should be confident hiker/mountaineer and feel comfortable on very rocky and uneven path.
Sgor nam Fiannaidh.
After summiting Sgor nam Fiannaidh (967m) we were slightly disappointed. The fog was too great to see anything and make any sensible photos. We had sandwiches, chocolates, drank some tea and started journey down. Road was quite tough, however thanks to the poles we could descent without too much pressure on our knees. As we were climbing down weather improved dramatically. Sun came out and finally you could see everything. Our timing was good, so we decided to climb Pap of Glencoe as well. Froggy was not very happy about that idea and moaned a lot, but he kept going.
Pap of Glencoe.
Pap of Glencoe is not particularly high (742m), and does not look challenging. However, once you start climbing, you realise that it is exposed and difficult, especially for kids. Hurricane and I chose to use more direct route as some people on the front of us, while Mrs Sting and Froggy decided to follow others via main path. Direct route was basically scrambling/climbing path, but we thought it will be quickest. At the summit Hurricane started feeling nervous and started shouting and looking for mum. I tried to explain that you do not shout and lose your nerves in the mountains, it is too dangerous, but she could not grasp it. We rang mum and got told they still trying to climb very rocky path. I checked the ledges but could not see them. Hurricane was just too nervous and kept shouting for mum, so I thought the best idea is to descent via normal path, pick Mrs Sting and Froggy and just go back the caravan. I rang wife, told her the plan started climbing down.
OMG road down was very rocky, some of them were size of Hurricane. She was leading and descending very quickly, probably too quickly, however safe, and was not doing anything that was dangerous or risky for her or others. At the bottom of the Pap we met up with Mrs Sting and Froggy. After we exchanged stories from the time we separated, had some chocolates, and started journey down.
Both, wife and me decided to choose path to the right which looked more direct. There were some visible human footprints, so we decided to carry on. Initially we followed the path constantly seeing footprints, at some point however it disappeared. We chose to keep on going directly instead following gully on the left. At some point our ‘’road’’ down was just we, muddy and miserable, we were going straight down through high grass and other flora which was quite difficult for young ones. Froggy moaned a lot, tripped over several times but Hurricane kept her cool. She was far too mature for somebody at her age. We hit a little stream and followed it down till we finally reached a normal track. Wet and tired but happy with the journey and that we managed to ascend two peaks.
Initially we planned to go to the pub for a lunch, but we were just too wet and tired. Went back to caravan for some noodles and fondue. Explanation – kids are not fans of melted cheese hence opting for noodles rather a Swiss dish. What we did not know at that time, we brought some ‘’lovely’’ animals on our clothes, the same as last year. Those living creatures are ticks. If you visit Scottish Highlands make sure you check yourself properly after each walk that involves higher grass, meadows, and woods, and hang clothes somewhere were ticks can fall. Sometimes it is just impossible especially if they manage to get onto your mid-layer, and that is what happened to Froggy (I did mentioned he tripped over few times while descending off road via high grass area). How to get them out is a story for another time.