Two weeks ago, three of us stood on the icy summit of Aonach Beag, a 1234m high Munro in the West Highlands of Scotland. Although there was a lull in the prevailing winds, it was cold and it had been raining and I was soaking wet through. It would have been easy to get hypothermia in the +1 degree temperatures had the wind got back up.
I had good reason to be mindful. The previous night, 70mph+ gusts had battered us as we camped out on a bealach 650m above Glen Nevis. The bealach, nestled tight between the Munro, Carn Dearg (1220m) and Aonach Beag's neighbour, Aonach Mor (1221m), was a natural wind tunnel and we had a restless night trying to stop the tents from being blown away.
Our objective that weekend was the Lochaber Traverse (a Scotland high level backpacking route covering the Munros of Ben Nevis, Carn Dearg, Aonach Mor, Aonach Beag and the Grey Corries). The general 'ughh-ness' of the day though made us turn tail on Aonach Beag and head for home.
Fast forward two weeks and two of us from that trip are walking off the summit of the Grey Corries Munro, Stob Choire Claurigh (1177m). In the distance, the Grey Corries ridge snakes out and we can see over the summit of Aonach Beag to Ben Nevis. It's possibly 15 degrees warmer than our previous trip and the sun's been out all day. We had camped low down in Glen Nevis on the Friday night and walked the length of the glen Saturday morning to reach the summit of the Grey Corrie outlier, Stob Ban (another Munro, at 977m). From there, a sharp down and up took us onto the Grey Corries proper.
The view from the Grey Corries ridge over to Ben Nevis is spectacular. Being March, we had expected to do the ridge in winter conditions and had come prepared with ice axes and crampons ready to tackle the snow fields. Freakishly warm temperatures meant it had all melted and there was no snow worth mentioning. On the plus side, it was summer conditions in Scotland with no midgies. Result!
We camped for the night just off the Grey Corries ridge, in Corrie Cath na Sine. At 950m, it's a high winter camp but the relatively warm temperatures (+6 degrees) made it very pleasant. That said, the sunrise in the morning over Stob Coire Easain and Stob a'Choire Mheadoin was welcome and we were up on the ridge again by 9am, bathed in sunshine. From there, it's an easy walk along the Grey Corries Munros with great views over to Aonach Beag and it's alpine-looking North-East ridge.
(I've since read up and, in Summer, the North-East ridge of Aonach Beag is a Difficult rock-climb. I've booked to do it with a friend in June so look out for photos then. In the meantime, I've a trip to the Isle of Rum so if you've any photo requirements, please do let me know.)