We arrived at the start point, boots on and on our way by 08.45. The initial climb up through the woods heading for Cruachan Dam is extremely steep and rugged to say the least. Fortunately at this time of the year the foliage had yet to return to the trees and ferns which line the narrow route. It must be a nightmare in the summer, and I wouldn't like to imagine the midgey infestation who'd hang out there, sharpening their teeth by the millions !
As always a steep climb gains height quickly and we soon had excellent views back over the beginning of Loch Awe and the small array of fish farming cages. Luckily we were still shaded from the sun as I was already beginning to struggle with the heat. We arrived at the dam in around 40 minutes and the early exertion saw me strip off to shorts and a t-shirt and apply the factor 50 as we took a breather on the dam wall. It was already shaping up to be a scorcher!
As we followed the small stream up the path towards the bealach it looked increasingly likely our route would be blocked by snow in Coire Dearg. Again we thought there will be a way around it, isn't there always ? Not this time ! We tried to go up it at first but it was so soft your feet went right through to the hidden boulder field below and the chances of a broken leg looked likely. We tried to go up around it which had some success except that the higher we got the size of the cornice at the top increased. We then decided having come this far that perhaps we could scale the steep slopes of the glen and make straight for the ridge....In this heat ? madness!
In the midday sun, the relentlessly steep slopes had us questioning our sanity as we frequently paused to get our breath back on the slow climb towards the ridge. I'm not exaggerating when I say I have never felt more exhausted on a hill than I did just before the final push to the ridge. I genuinely believe had there been an easy descent we'd have been heading back to the car. The elation as we finally climbed out on to the ridge matched any I'd felt on reaching any summit and without doubt was it worth every strength sapping step. The views were simply amazing. Not one of the accompanying photos can do the views justice but I do hope they at least give you a flavour of the stunning scenery that surrounded us.