Mountain Course & Activity Locations

Lakes Outdoor Experience cover locations across the UK, including North Wales, Scotland and The Lake District to mention but a few. We also offer guided scrambling and traverses on The Cuillin Ridge on The Isle of Skye.

The Aonach Eagach Winter Traverse

The Aonach Eagach Winter Traverse, Glen Coe, Western Highlands

aonach-eagach-winter-traverse.jpgThe Aonach Eagach (Gaelic for Notched Ridge) forms the northern boundary of the famous valley of Glen Coe in the Western Highlands of Scotland. From end to end, this technical and serious winter excursion is 5 miles/8 kilometres long, has an total ascent of 1189m/4230 feet and descent of 1346m/4416 feet so you'll be going up and down slightly further than if you were climbing Ben Nevis - the UK's highest mountain! The technical section of this traverse is all above 800m/2600 feet and is exposed; therefore, it is only possible to undertake this traverse in calm weather. Be prepared to take up to take eight hours to complete this route!

aonach-eagach-winter-traverse-of-pinnacles.jpgThe technical section of the ridge is its airy and exposed crest running from the summit of Am Bodach in the east, to Stob Coire Leith in the west. This section is only 1.5 miles/2.5km long but along the way you are constantly ascending or descending - in total between the two mentioned summits, there is 300m/1000 feet of ascent and descent.

aonach-eagach-winter-1st-abseil.jpgWe tend to run our Aonach Eagach Winter Traverses from east to west starting with the long ascent to the summit of Am Bodach 943m which can take at least an hour and a half to complete. Shortly after arriving at the summit of Am Bodach, we reach the first technical difficulty on the ridge - the descent of "The Chancellor" which is done as a stacked abseil. From there on to the summit of Meall Dearg, one continually descends and ascends; though there are no other particular difficulties along this section of the ridge.

Once beyond the first Munro summit - Meall Dearg 953m, the ridge descends and becomes increasingly narrow until one arrives at the pinnacles which stand like "Gendarmes" on this - the narrowest part of the ridge. Once past this technical difficulty, we climb to a minor high point on the ridge before descending a steep and exposed section which usually requires a further abseil; further descending beyond this point leads eventually to a deep notch - the lowest point on the ridge: from here to the summit of Stob Coire Leith is a steady, steep and straighforward ascent - however, on arriving at this summit, your day is still far from over!

aonach-eagach-winter-traverse-end.jpgThe walk from Stob Coire Leith to Sgorr Nam Fiannaidh - the second Munro Summit at 967m takes at least another 45 minutes in good conditions and then the descent from the west summit to the valley floor in Glen Coe takes on average, another 1.5 hours.

Please note - we do not recommend; or use ourselves, the descent path on the west bank of Clachaig Gully in Winter conditions - it is steep, exposed and hazardous.

Frequently asked questions about our Aonach Eagach Winter Traverse Days.

Where do we meet for our Aonach Eagach Winter Traverse? Answer In the car park on the A82 - 500 metres west of Alt Na Righe either on the north side of the road if there is space or a few hundred metres further west in the upper "Three sisters" car park.

What time do we start our day? Answer - no later than 8 am and often earlier. The Aonach Eagach Winter Traverse is a long day and can take eight hours to complete from end to end. We need to set off at first light in order to be certain to have completed the descent from the western end of the ridge before dark.

aonach-eagach-winter-traverse-client-with-axe.jpgDo I need any previous experience to do the Aonach Eagach Winter Traverse? Answer - most certainly - yes! You must have already attended a two day Winter Skills Course either with Lakes Outdoor Experience or another winter course provider. You should also have experience of summer scrambling to at least grade 2 and basic ropework skills are desirable although not essential as these can be learnt during the traverse.

What equipment do I need to be able to undertake an Aonach Eagach Winter Traverse? Answer - you each need a full complement of personal winter clothing - Goretex or similar hardshell jacket and salopettes, hat, gloves, winter gauntlets, ski googles, spare warm layers, lunch and a flask of hot drink and a headtorch and spare batteries. Your winter boots will be B2 or B3 rated and you must have walking crampons, that have previously been fitted to your boots before we meet on the day. You will also need a walking axe and ski poles are useful for the ascent to Am Bodach and for the descent from Sgorr Nam Fiannaidh back to the valley floor.

All of this equipment must be packed into rucksacks of at least 45 litres capacity. We will provide harnesses, helmets and all other technical equipment required to facilitate your Aonach Eagach Winter Traverse and we will meet you the evening before your traverse day to ensure that you are properly prepared and ready to go.

How fit should I be in order to successfully complete the Aonach Eagach Winter Traverse? Answer You need a good level of mountain fitness from regular walking in the mountains and should already have plenty of previous experience walking in mountainous areas of the uk.

How much does it cost per person to undertake an Aonach Eagach Winter Traverse with Lakes Outdoor Experience? Answer The fee to do this with us is a minimum fee of £300.00 for 1 or 2 persons making the fee £150.00 each or £405.00 for 3 persons making it £135.00 per person. The ratio of clients to an instructor is a maximum of 3:1 on all of our technical mountaineering and climbing courses.

To book your Aonach Eagach Winter Traverse - contact us here.

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Iain GallagherLakes Outdoor Experience is run by Iain Gallagher. Iain was born and brought up in The Lake District by parents who were very keen on the outdoors.

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