The Aonach Eagach and a Clachaig pie
June 3, 2016

The Aonach Eagach, Gaelic for ‘the notched ridge’, is one of the UK mainland’s classic ridge scrambles. A Grade 2 spine of crenellated rock, it meanders for 10km along the north edge of Glen Coe. Beautifully exposed in parts, sheer drops on either side give way to stunning aerial views over the Glen. The ridge includes two munros, Meall Dearg (953m) and Sgorr nam Fiannaidh (967m) and offers a rewarding day out on rock.

The A82 snaking along below the ridge. And Marie.

On Monday, Marie and I headed to Glen Coe to try the Aonach Eagach. It was her first time. In summer, the ridge is manageable for any competent scrambler with a head for heights and though I took a 30m rope, we ended up not needing it. Although it was Marie’s first ridge scramble, she was fine and tackled the steeper sections with ease.

After an early morning start and a short but steep descent from the summit of Am Bodach, pulled slightly off-balance by our daysacks, we settled in to the Aonach Eagach rhythm. Below us on the left, the summer sunlight glinted off the cars crawling down the A82.

The mid-section of the ridge between Meall Dearg and the summit of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh is the most technically challenging and encompasses the Pinnacles – a jagged stretch of spikiness demanding careful hand and foot placements. The rock is generally sound though; a far cry from the friable choss I found myself hanging on to in New Zealand just a few months ago.

Hands on rock

After the Pinnacles we hit the top of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh, pausing for a snack, the obligatory summit photos and to swat away the early Summer midges. It was all downhill from there. I opted to take the Clachaig Gully down for a more direct finish. A word of caution though. The Clachaig Gully is steep and loose, and should never be considered in Winter. However given our scrambling competence and the perfect weather conditions prevailing, it was an acceptable option on the day and saw us down to a direct finish at the Clachaig Inn. A well-earned steak and ale pie followed – the perfect finish and the best way to replace those scrambling calories!