One of the features of walking with Orion is that he likes to bag the Tops (summits over 3000ft, but not designated Munros in Sir Hugh's Tables), and so taking in Sgorr Bhan was always on the cards. Shame we couldn't see anything due to the mist, as there are normally spectacular views from there, of Bidean in Glencoe, the Mamores, the Ben, Ardgour, Mull, Lismore etc.
The midges were persistent in the lower reaches of the ridge, and with it being damp and clammy, I was soon covered in a rather unpleasant midge paste. Ugh! They got less as we ascended, and once the scrambling started, they were obviously too fearty (Scottish for scaredy-cat) to come any higher.
Orion is not the most confident of scramblers, and a judicious confidence rope helped to calm nerves on the crux, and we both enjoyed it immensely.
After a quick clag-ridden break on the summit of Sgorr Dearg, the descent to the bealach takes no time, and we were soon ascending Sgorr Dhonuill, or Donald's Peak. It is a straightforward walk until the last few metres, where there is a choice of a rather exposed few moves onto a narrow arete, or a more enclosed chimney. I chose the latter in the wet conditions.
At the summit, we met Dave, a lone walker from England. He was having a rest having come up the scree slopes necessitated by the 'normal' route being closed due to forestry operations, and was studying his map. We passed pleasantries, and he enquired about the onward route. I advise about not descending Schoolhouse Ridge, and to go on to Beinn Bhan. I showed him on the map, and discussed his compass bearings. He didn't have one.....but don't worry, he 'had a good sense of direction, and had read all about the Wainrights'. Oh, that's alright then!!!
Orion and I decided to escort him down the steep bit onto the path, and also exchanged mobile numbers just in case. As it turned out, the cloud cleared enough both for us to see his progress, and for him to see the route....but it might not have done. I called him several times to check his progress, and as it transpired, he got down fine, and long before us.....but that is another story isn't it?!
Orion's idea was to do a full horseshoe, and descend the Western hills of the cirque, Creag Gorm. I had often thought about it, but the wiggly contours, many knolls and ups and downs and steep descent had suggested a gnarly and strenuous end to the day, so I had always thought the better of it. But, we were going well, and I allowed my natural curiosity get the better of my common hill sense and we went for it. It was hard. It was gnarly, more Knoydart than Glencoe. It was steep. It was endless ups and downs. Surprise, surprise! ;)
But, and it's a big but, the views from such a different angle were superb. We were able to 'manage' Dave from the high vantage point, and it cleared up as we toiled. What's not to like? OK, my legs weren't awfully happy having just walked 96 miles, but hey, get on with it legs, that's yer job!
Thanks to Orion for being so endlessly optimistic and great company, and for suggesting the route.....sort of.