Over the weekend Miguel and I completed a Lochaber Traverse. For those of you that might not have heard of it, the Lochaber Traverse is a 32km route that takes in all of the Grey Corries (except Stob Ban), the Aonachs, Carn Mor Dearg and finishes on Ben Nevis. It includes 7 Munros plus a number of other summits, about 2,800m of ascent and kilometres of stunning ridge walking. Think of it as a far less technical alternative to the Cuillin Traverse! Some people complete the route in one very big day, but Miguel was keen to camp out so we opted to do it over two days.
Mist, midges and mizzly drizzle was the theme for Saturday morning when we met, but the weather forecast was set to improve and most importantly, there wasn't supposed to be too much wind over the two days. Perfect for being up high on, at times, very narrow ridges. We set off in low cloud and were kept moving by midges, but as we climbed higher we could see that the clouds were beginning to break. By the time we reached our first Munro of Stob Choire Claurigh the clouds had lifted enough that we were met with a beautiful view over the rest of the Grey Corries, with Aonach Beag far off in the distance. There was also a slight breeze so fortunately there was to be no more midges for the rest of the trip. The walking along the Grey Corries is just lovely. There are occasional little scrambly bits but for the most of it it is just really pleasant ridge walking. Over Stob Coire an Laoigh and Sgurr Choinnich Mor, before pitching our tents at the bealach between Sgurr Choinnich Beag and Stob Coire Bhealaich with stunning views across to the Mamores.
Waking up to rain on the tents was not ideal, but it stopped just as it was time to emerge. The weather certainly seemed to be on our side! The climb up out of the bealach towards Stob Coire Bhealaich is a tough one, particularly first thing in the morning, but meandering up through the mist and boulders, it didn't seem to take long at all to get up and over the final steep section and we were back on much easier ground. Wandering along the ridge we met a little ptarmigan desperately trying to distract us from her chicks, one of whom we saw scurrying off to hide amongst the rocks. Over Aonach Beag, and upon reaching the bealach the clouds once again began to lift and clear. Miguel really wanted to do the traverse in full so we did the quick out and back to tag Aonach Mor before making the steep descent to the foot of the East Ridge of Carn Mor Dearg.
With nearly 400m to reascend this felt like a big one, but the ridge and the views were distraction enough and we were on the summit of Carn Mor Dearg in time for lunch with only CMD Arete and Ben Nevis left to go. Clouds swirled dramatically around the North Face of Ben Nevis and ravens circled and cawed above as we made our way across the Arete. Scrambling up the final steep boulder field onto Ben Nevis we were serenaded by a snow bunting who seemed to follow us the whole way up, twittering his little song and clearing the clouds for us once again. With weary legs and after an incredible couple of days it seemed like a very fitting way to reach our final summit on the Lochaber Traverse.
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Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.