18 miles 6,200 feet
After travelling up early Will and I arrived at Glen Nevis campsite, set up camp then headed straight for Fersit. Our plan was to complete the Grey Corries section of the route. In November we had cut short an attempt at them all in one go, due to severe winds and fading light. We left the car and ran around the base of Stob Coire Mheadion and Stob Coire Essain, to travel up the valley along the left hand side of stob coire claurigh. The wet weather on the drive up thankfully didn’t follow us, and we set off in beautiful weather. My usual map reading error led us up on the traverse around too early but we carried on and did a bit of extra ascent. We were glad we did as if we had of gone the easiest - correct - route we wouldn’t have seen about 70 deer all in one mass herd.
Eventually after a detour to a small bothy, we arrived at the col between Stob Ban and Stob Coire Mheadion. We ascended Stob Ban so that we could check out the descent line, up and down. After a long ascent we were finally back on the route that we left in November. The descent of Stob Ban was fast and enjoyable on yielding ground. 20 minutes and we were on the valley floor. The ascent of Stob Coire Essain is the longest on the round, within a leg. It felt it; we took a longer line which saw us traversing a long way across the summit ridge. We both agreed it was not the fastest route, and more direct was better. Stob Coire Mheadion was a nice up and down, we then descended a good line but went down to the grit road at Loch Treig too early and struggled a bit in crags. But it was a good day out and not too long given we had 2 long days yet to do.
Day 2 23rd May
22 miles 5,700 feet
Bill had travelled up and he joined us for a point to point from Fersit dam to Kinlochleven. In dank weather we crossed the dam and sniffed out the route through the woods and up the tough tussock strewn climb of Stob Coire sgriddon, we picked our way up and eventually made the top in thick cloud. The conditions slowed us down as none of us had been on these hills before. Chno Dearg was fairly confusing with several little ups and downs on the way, the climb was easy though. We took a break on the top and got cold, probably not the best place to take a break, as a stiff wind whipped around the cairn we sheltered behind.
The line off Chno Dearg was good but we ascended a bit early to the summit ridge we all agreed a longer lower traverse would work better. We had a quick stop on the summit then descended a confusing -well in cloud anyway - ridge line towards the railway underpass. The line we took was good; this was aided by finally getting lower than the cloud and getting a sight line to the bridge. The long run around the West end of the Loch Trieg and on around the river to the track and on to Loch Elide Mor was more fun and easier than I had anticipated. Now the sun came out for the first time to make it all the more pleasant.
This wasn’t to last and when we got to the end of our recce at the lodge at the bottom of Sgurr Elide Mor the heavens opened. Bill decided to walk the 4 miles down to Kinlochleven, due to a sore knee. Will and I ran to keep warm. Our reward for this was a cup of tea in the Climbing centre in Kinlochleven. Will and I shook hands in the knowledge that we had now, finally, set foot on the entire round.
It was another good day out. But after retrieving Wills car from Fersit and having a shower we were too late for a choice of food, again. So it was the Indian, and another Chicken Madras. It seamed to be doing the job anyway.
Day 3 24 th May
9.5 miles 5,800 feet
Will and I decided that a circular run from our campsite at Glen Nevis would be prudent, as we had to travel back home later on. So we decided on Ben Nevis followed by Carn Mor Dearg then a descent off the Ramsay Round down to the climbing hut, a run around the base of Carn Dearg and then onto Melantee before descending via the tourist path to Glen Nevis.
For the most part the weather was good and we found the route reasonably easy to navigate. Even the snow covered clouded top of Ben Nevis was negotiated reasonably easily. For several reasons we were well off the schedule on Carn mor Dearg, in fact at that time we should have been on the next summit, Aonoch mor. It was slightly disconcerting. But we decided that an impromptu toilet break followed by a lot of snow on Ben Nevis and a lengthy chat with a Ramsay Round completer, on descending Ben Nevis, explained this lack of speed over the ground.
We ended the day with an ascent of melantee, which pleased me, as for years I have looked at it from all angles but for one reason or another never ventured onto its top. Will was also pleased to add another top. The final bit of ascent to it was tough and all the previous 2 days hills could be felt in my legs. Will made me feel better by admitting he found it tough as well, even though it is a short ascent. We descended back to the campsite happy at finishing our recceing and also finishing our serious training before our attempt on the round with Bill Williamson and maybe Chris Reade on June the 6th.
Maybe it’s the training or a slight lack of confidence, but I feel that this round suits me less well compared to the Bob Graham and the Paddy Buckley Rounds. I am starting to think that the long ups are not what I do best. But I suppose I will find out soon enough. Hopefully I can be good enough at them to get the job done.