Ring of Steall

Day 2 #

Buoyed by our ascent of Ben Nevis, we decided on an even longer route for the next day - the Ring of Steall in the Mamores. We set off early, but in retrospect should have set off far earlier.

The initiall ascent was damp and never ending. Always forward, always up. No one in sight. Did we really want to do this?

Ed climbing a snowy and grassy mountainside. In the far distance the brown base of the valley can be seen with a river running through the middle.
Photo by Chris Natt.
Ed ascending towards the camera. There’s several large boulders partially covered in snow to the right.
Photo by Chris Natt.
Chris walking ahead up a snowy mountain - there’s low visibility and a few flakes of snow in the air.

As we cleared the bulk of the initial ascent, a new, hidden world was revealed to us. Still and calm and very white. We could see across the valley to our return path - so very far away.

A low contrast view of several snowy ridges.
A snowy ridge recedes in to the distance. There’s very little visibility so it’s hard to see where the sky and ground connect.
A portrait photo of Chris and Ed on top of a snowy mountain, with several other snowy summits visible behind.
Chris walking ahead of camera, with several snowy mountains ahead of him.
Ed far in the distance facing the camera. He’s waving his axe over his head at the camera.
Photo by Chris Natt.

After our first summit we crossed the Devil’s ridge - a long corniced bulk of snow. Time was pressing, and we were still only 1/3 around the route.

Chris walking along the Devil’s ridge towards the camera. He’s on one side of a sharp snowy ridge.

After doing 2/3 of the route, we were short on time and the going got much icier. A steep and tricky descent of Am Bodach tired us out, and we decided to bail off of the route and in to the bowl for an easier return.

Chris descending in to the bowl of the Ring of Steall. It’s later in the day and the sun is low in the sky. The bowl is already in shadow. There’s a small windy stream at the base of the bowl.
A panorama taken from the bowl of the Ring of Steall at dusk. The sky is still bright with dramatic clouds, but the mountains and ground around are getting dark.

In the end, the bowl return was likely slower than our original plan. It wasn’t technically hard, but went on forever. We quickly lost the light and settled in for a long walk back to the car.

Chris a way ahead descending a snowy mountain after dusk.
Chris crossing a rope bridge over a river, coming towards the camera. It’s pitch black, and he’s got a headtorch to lead the way.