A recce of Ramsay's Round - parts one, two and three

Tomorrow will be the summer solstice. Today it is snowing. I am peering into the clag somewhere on Aonach Beag, searching for what I know will be a steep rocky descent, known to 'Ramsayists' as Spinks Ridge. Fresh snow covers wet rock, visibility is less than 20m and the wind is howling. My face is numb, my hands frozen and my legs stiff with cold. It is time to go down. Except that means going up.
Starting late in the day, I had already run further than intended, over Ben Nevis, along the CMD arete and up to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg. Its descent and the climb to Aonach Mor took longer than they should have done in the poor conditions and now, dropping off Aonach Beag, I was increasingly concerned about the weather and the route ahead. Time to rethink the day's objective.
Once considered, it took all of a second to turn around and head back over Aonach Beag for a descent I had noted from the deep col between Aonach Mor and Carn Mor Dearg, leading back to Glen Nevis. I took no pictures. It was not my first experience of The Ben or the Aonachs - nor was it the first time I have been snowed on, on the Scottish mountains, in June. It was however my first taste of Ramsay's Round and for today at least, it was enough. That was part 1. (14m | 4 Munros | 7,500ft ascent)
Part 2 - The bit in the middle.
A benign start, crossing the dam at the northern end of Loch Treig.
Things get a good deal harder, very quickly. On crossing the railway, one must negotiate the pines. There is a trod. And a gap in the 8ft deer fence beyond. I found both. But only after a good deal of colourful language.
Then, you can start running. Or at least, bog trotting, on the long trod-less climb of Stob Coire Sgriodain. In places, slabs of rough rock ease progress - I made full use of them and gained height quickly enough under a strong sun. It came and went - the day a mix of sun, rain, hail, and cold winds, generally improving though as the day wore on. 
Looking across to The Grey Corries and the summits I didn't cover the day before.
Leaving the summit of Stob Coire Sgriodain, Loch Treig far below.
Approaching Chno Dearg in the wake of a brief battering of hail which quickly turned to rain.
The descent is a fast run on good ground initially but quickly gives way to a steep rough drop, eventually crossing the river and ploughing straight up the slopes opposite. There is no trod.
The descent of Chno Dearg.
On the summit of Beinn na Lap.
Long views to the highest of hills.
And a view towards the Mamores and Part 3, to follow.
At this point the camera died. As did the legs following a fast run off Beinn na Lap. Both being unfortunate as I had still to climb Stob Coire Easain and Stob á Choire Mheadoin (another 1,000m of ascent) before running the long ridge north to complete my circuit of Loch Treig and this, the middle section of Ramsay's Round.
I had remarked to friends before driving north that I was under no illusions - The Ramsay would be a great deal harder than The Bob. I was right.
But still,it felt right - these mountains quite unlike the more familiar giants of Torridon, the monoliths of Assynt or great hulking expanses of the Cairngorms, and yet I was home, here among the wild summits of Scotland.
(20m | 5 Munros | 7,800ft ascent)
Part 3 - The Mamores
After years of planning trips on the hills and sea, I have come to rely less and less on the usual forecasts, decisions based more on my own interpretation of weather charts and ultimately, gut feel. But still, it is unsettling to note wildly conflicting forecasts the night before a big day on the tops...
Ominous skies leaving Glen Nevis.
And a humid morning on the climb beneath Stob Bán.
Mountains of the mind...
...and approaching the summit of Sgorr an Iubhair after which I traversed beneath Am Bodach and then followed the ridge out as far as An Gearanach, before turning to follow Ramsay's Round back to its final summit, Mullach nan Coirean.
The Devil's Ridge, Sgurr a Mháim beyond, the summit just covered in cloud. This is an out-and-back section, whether running clockwise or anti-clockwise. 
Which means one must negotiate a rock step half way, twice. It is easily avoided on either side, the west flank offering the quickest bypass.
On the ascent of Stob Bán...
...which is without technical difficulty but still offers a wonderful and exposed section of ridge.
Looking east while approaching the summit...
...and leaving the quartz summit cairn.
Looking back on a day well spent.
The skies clearing and temperatures soaring as I looked up from the valley floor, to the summit of Sgurr a Mháim.
(15m | 7 Munros | 7,600ft ascent)
And so, while there is still a great deal to learn and a great deal more training to be done, the challenge of Ramsay's Round has become a reality.

Comments

Ian Johnston said…
Great stuff Will! Some super images here too :o) Ramsay's Round is monstrous...it took me three trips to walk the thing, can't imagine running it in a one-er. Good old Scottish conditions well in evidence; it's been quite a contrast to June 2018!
walker said…
Such a lovely place!