Washed and blow dried off the Lochaber Traverse
The Lochaber Traverse is the name of a high-level backpacking route in Scotland taking in the Munros of Ben Nevis, Carn Dearg, Aonach Mor, Aonach Beag and all the Grey Corries. I’ve done the traverse before with a friend, in Summer (adding on two additional Munros, Stob a’Choire Mheadoin and Stob Coire Easain for effort) but I’m not able to show you how good it was because we spent the whole weekend in wet clouds, with minimal visibility.
I decided to have another go at it last weekend, with two other friends, Andy and Iain. We’d all been up Ben Nevis before so we decided to miss out Britain’s highest mountain and replace it with new ground travelled, none of us having been up the Munros from the Glen Nevis side, via a high hanging valley called Coire Giubhsachan (pictured above).
Iain planned to join us later so it was just Andy and I who left the car at the head of Glen Nevis and walked in the rain through a massively in-spate Nevis Gorge. We passed Steall Falls (Britain’s second highest waterfall, at 120m high) and headed further up Glen Nevis to gain the path that climbs up into Coire Giubhsachan. The ground underfoot was super wet – a lot of snow must have melted in the preceding few days – and the amount of water thundering down the Allt Coire Giubhsachan was nothing less than spectacular.
Coire Giubhsachan is well worth a visit. It has two floors and in its upper reaches is hemmed in by two of the taller Munros, Carn Dearg (1220m) to the West and Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag (1221m, 1234m) to the East. The small bealach between them, at c.800m, is where we planned to camp (you can see it in the picture above just off centre, middle-top, with the patch of snow).
The idea was Andy and I would go up Carn Dearg that afternoon, then return to meet Iain and we would camp at the bealach for the night. The next day would he spent walking over Aonach Mor, Aonach Beag and the Grey Corries before another high camp would enable us return to the car via Glen Nevis the following morning. The weather had other plans for us though.
The ridge up to Carn Dearg was a beautiful snow arete and this was good fun. There was no view for us at the summit and it was windy. By the time we descended back to the bealach and met Iain, the wind speed had picked up and great gusts were rattling our tents. Through the night the wind intensified and the gusts reached perhaps 70+mph (Andy’s mountain tent – a Lightwave G2, I think – flattened right down to nose level on us once, around 3am, and Iain’s main pole in his Hilleberg Akto resembled a worm in the morning, the strength of the wind having bent it many different ways).
We packed up in the morning and went up Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag in the rain and continued gusts. Aonach Beag had a smattering of ice covering its summit but it wasn’t enough to encourage us to continue (and I was soaking wet, inside and out) so we made the decision to bail, retraced our steps and camped next to Steall Falls.
I’ll need to go back for another shot.