Petestack Blog

24 July 2013

The lost Top of Aonach Beag?

Filed under: Running — admin @ 9:56 pm

Looking for a ‘quick’ local objective today with the (as yet unfulfilled) threat of thundery showers later, I chose a run over the Aonachs with three main aims in mind:

  1. Do Aonach Mor’s subsidiary eastern ridge for its Tops that have been irking me for years as my only unticked Munro Tops for many miles around.
  2. Revisit Sgurr a’ Bhuic as ‘insurance’ against having it ticked for umpteen years with no recollection of when I actually did it.
  3. Visit the supposed new Top of Aonach Beag recorded by Andy Nisbet and Dave McGimpsey on their route Munro’s Last Ridge in February 2003.

So here’s how it panned out:

  1. That eastern ridge is probably the ‘best’ way up Aonach Mor, opening up fine prospects of the East Face cliffs before narrowing for Stob an Cul Choire and finally landing you close to the summit cairn.
  2. Think I probably have done Sgurr a’ Bhuic before, but 100% sure now and it’s a good wee Top!
  3. Afraid that new Top’s the sort of thing that’s getting deleted rather than listed these days. While it’s reasonably, if somewhat wishfully, described in SMCJ 2003 (see quote below), I’d say it’s just too close to the parent peak for the minimal (max. 10m?) reascent and, if that’s a Top, so (to give some appropriate local comparisons) are the Great Tower on the Ben and final pinnacle of Carn Dearg Meadhonach’s eastern ridge. For the interested, however, I descended pretty well direct to it (described as ‘walking’ in the FA description, but chossy/slippery enough in summer conditions to require considerable care in trail shoes!) before crossing a snowfield (yes, on 24 July!) to access a nice grassy rake leading back up to the easy top part of the North-East Ridge, which would retrospectively also have been an easier way down. Might add that, with the ‘large rounded summit’ (at c.1,035m) also being visible from the top of Aonach Beag and over by Stob Coire Bhealaich (which I’d also have to rate a dubious Top!), it’s surely obvious enough to have been considered and rejected before?

So that’s all for now, having enjoyed a good ‘wee’ expedition (longer than you might think at over 11 miles!) with an exploratory edge, but IMHO no lost Munro Top. To quote Simon Richardson in SMCJ 2003, however:

The vast east face of Aonach Beag saw one of the most interesting ascents of the season when Andy Nisbet and Dave McGimpsey climbed a long Grade II ridge-line to the left of the classic North-East Ridge. Remarkably, this led to an unrecorded Munro Top. Andy Nisbet explained later that the “face is so huge that the easier upper section of the ridge contained a large rounded summit with as much of a drop as some of the smaller Tops. Now named Munro’s Last Ridge, it might see lots of ascents from folk updating their Tops. We’ll have to get it in the next edition of Munro’s Tables!”

Who said exploratory mountaineering in Scotland is dead?

Might also admit (‘exploratory mountaineering’?) to starting my run from the top of the gondola, but offer the simple defence that I’ve done the Aonachs often enough without that helping hand to need no defending there! ;-)



  1. Excellent journey Pete, apart from taking the gondola ;-)

    Comment by MtM — 24 July 2013 @ 10:19 pm

  2. Thought I was risking the thundery showers if I didn’t! :-P

    Comment by admin — 24 July 2013 @ 10:33 pm

  3. Lost ‘Top’ clearly visible left of centre in this 2012 photo from James Roddie’s blog:

    Comment by admin — 25 July 2013 @ 8:53 am

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