Culra Bothy to Aonach Beag (walking) Route Details

Route Description

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Introduction

The fourth part of a multiday backpacking expedition in the Highlands, with an ascent of the remote and challenging peak of Anoach Bearg

Conditions

High winter mountains with no obvious paths and real route finding problems.

Hazards and warnings

The remoteness and pathless nature of the mountains makes this very dangerous to the unwary or ill equipped.

Detailed description

Head along the fairly easy and obivous track alongside the river to Bealach Dubh, before contouring around the lower slopes of Geal-charn, and picking up a small stream coming from the summit area. Head across the edge of the summit plateau of Geal-charn, before picking up the western ridge which extends to a col seperating the mountain from Anoach Beag. Head up the step and at times narrow ridge to reach the summit of Aonach Beag. 

Then desend the south west ridge to a col. At the col decent east into the coire along the headwaters of the stream into Coire Charra Bhig, and then decend the easier ground to reach the river. By the river, a faint path can be found which gets progressively better as you decent. The riverside path is boggy and very sinuous, but easy enough after the earier difficulties.

Narrative

I did this walk in the winter of 1987. Several things were different then: I was younger, very, very fit and well able to cope well with difficult conditions. On the downside I was fairly poorly equiped- goretex bivvi rather than tent, no lightweight cooking kit and not particularly good clothes, and lacking in experience of winter conditions. Winters were much colder then. There was plenty of snow on the ground, and most standing water was frozen.

After the previous days epic walk, it was time to start heading west toward Corrour and the train home. The weather was very cold, but clear, so after making good time through the deep snow along the path in Bealach Dubh, I decided to bag another peak. At the col, I contoured around and up,  and reached the summit plateau of Geal-charn in bright sunshine. After a lunch break on the snowcovered ridge between Geal-charn and Anoach Beag, I had to the summit and glorious views all around to myself. I decended the ridge to a col and was able to back off the hill without any great difficulties. After walking along the stream, and getting wet feet from the partially iced boggy bits, until I found a decent flatish and dry spot to set up my bivvi.

A clear night and snow on the ground meant the was by far the coldest night I had spent outside. The bivvi bag, once sealed up was pretty warm (thankfully I had a good warm down bag), but lacking the space of a tent a lot of my kit had to stay outside, or be stowed at the base of the bivvy bag, including my very wet boots. By the morning my boots had frozen solid, with ice and mud making it impossible to get my feet into them, until I managed to defrost them with my stove, using up lots of precious gas in the process. Still this was my last night here and I didn't care.

Route Map

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