It's not very often that things align for a perfect day in the mountains... but with the forecast for Friday with light winds, a cloud inversion and having the day free, it was an opportunity not to be missed. I had wanted to film a traverse of the infamous Aonach Eagach (Notched Ridge) in Glencoe, but with the 'winter' I thought I'd have to wait till spring. A few phone calls later, a little gentle persuasion, and I managed to get my better half on board. We proposed to meet at the Clachaig Inn for some food (with a cheeky pint) to plan for the next morning. An early start was on the cards as I was super keen to film the sunrise (hopefully) coming up over the mountains and across the inversion...
After some breakfast and a cup of tea, we strapped our head torches on to find we had a malfunction... after some fiddling it decided it was broken, so we decided it was just a little to add to the adventure! Making the steep ascent up the path towards Am Bodach (the old man), we started climbing into the cloud, anxious and excited for what lay ahead in what would be a day never to be forgotten. As we climbed through the cloud I started to feel just how special the sunrise was going to be, jaw-dropping, truly beautiful and Scotland at her best. The night before I had a vision playing through my head, the sun rising over the mountains, a full inversion as far as the eye could see, with the all the highest peaks soaring through the inversion, it seemed unrealistic... but here it was,right in front of out eyes. It felt a little surreal, having been in the mountains for many many years, I have seen my fair share of inversions but I had never seen one like this, as far as the eye could see in every direction, genuinely breathtaking.
Words just couldn't do it justice, the pictures above tell a better story. And as you can see it was well worth the early start! It was around 7.45, we got wrapped up and waited for the big yellow ball of fire to appear to put a little heat in our cold hands and feet. I was really excited by the expanse of the inversion and glad I had took the drone to get it all on camera (I should admit at this stage, I don't know a great deal about photography... Terry does all that stuff but he was super tired after just finishing his Rannoch Moor crossing by canoe) so it was left up to us. I started setting the drone up, took the batteries out of my inside pocket from keeping them warm, did some pre-flight checks and took flight to start recording while the sun was just rising over the the Buachailles, Mor and Beag, what a truly special place to be. Frustratingly the screen on the phone didn't seem that clear so I wasn't too sure how well the footage would turn out... a story for the rest of the day. I was worried with such a special day the footage might not turn out great, but we maxed out the batteries filming and hoped for the best. (I later found out the pixilated screen was normal because of the wi-fi connection)
The ridge was almost entirely free of snow, with only the odd patch around. The shaded areas were a little slippery in the morning with a thin coating of frost, just a little reminder if you traverse before winter returns!? We walked along the ridge from Am Bodach, down climbed the first scrambling section before continuing along the broad ridge towards Meall Dearg, (Red Hill - This Munro was the last on the list of Reverend A. E. Robertson he was believed to be the first person to have completed the first ever round of all the Munros, famously he kissed the cairn before he kissed his wife! There is some speculation to whether the Rev was truly the first person to complete the round as some research has shown he may have missed Ben Wyvis...)
It was time to sit back and enjoy the views, enjoying a very spectacular lunch spot. We took some footage over lunch then started along the main section of the ridge, scrambling up and down while working our way along towards the pinnacles. We scrambled along the pinnacles, the most exposed section on the ridge, and still above the clouds. We continued along the ridge, down climbing from Stob Corie Leith before traversing over a few more sections of exposed ridge. We descended at the col before heading up to Sgorr nam Fiannaidh (peak of the fair headed warriors) weaved our way down through the scree towards the path that spits you at close to our shuttled car, parked west of Loch Achtriochtan.
This day was up there with some of the best days I've had in the mountains, the day surpassed my expectations, a day that had it all, and locked in the memory bank forever. Below is our edit of the film, I hope it brings as many smiles to your face as it did ours.
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