23 September 1996
At last the biggie.    Off to Glencoe by 8.00 and parked in the large tourist car park.  A wee bit dubious about the path we set off nonetheless and after a couple of minutes it became obvious this had to be the path.    It was too well made and too pronounced to be for anything else.   A slow walk for us but a very pleasant one up and into a corrie which became a gully.      Next we were passed by four males all speaking Gaelic according to Graeme, though later on we found out they were Welsh.   The way up is obvious and straightforward and pleasant leading eventually to a narrow and windy ridge.   No problem and we soon passed the Welshmen having lunch, following the ridge up to the top of Am Bodach (though we didn't realise  it was Am Bodach at the time).     Just as we were leaving someone came past us and we heard him telling the Welshmen behind us that he was backing off as it was too windy in his view to do the ridge today.   Just the sort of thing to cheer us up.     It was windy but not that bad.   At least it was constant rather than blustery which is awful.   There's nothing worse when walking on narrow paths to have wind hit you every so often and not know when it's going to get you next.   Before leaving we had a look at the Chancellor.   It looks horrendous and we didn't even think of going on it.   Shortly after this the path got quite steep then really steep.    I said to Graeme that the famous drop from Am Bodach is going to be really rough if this is anything to go by.   Lower down I was saying this was ridiculous and surely this must be as bad as the famed wall off Am Bodach.    A few feet on and the realisation hit us that this actually was the wall.  By this time we were on the large blocks which were not half as fearsome as I had been led to believe.    Sure they sloped a bit out and were large but could be manoeuvred, albeit with extreme care as the drops to the side didn't bear thinking about.   There was one difficult block as I recall but the holds were good and I was soon down with Graeme.    Looking back at the wall we couldn't believe we had descended it.   It is fearsome.    The slabs look as if they are over a long drop and look awful.   The Welshmen followed us down and one of them who had done the walk before told us that that had been the worst part of the ridge.   
From here on there was lots of excitement but unfortunately a lot of it blurs and afterwards you cannot remember exactly what was where which is a pity, apart of course for special incidents.    From here, however, as I recall there was nothing special before reaching the summit of Meall Dearg.   

From the summit of Meall Dearg the fun really begins, but if only we could have had a camcorder to take it all in and then remember all the individual bits.   It was all very entertaining, up and down steep slopes with plenty of rocky scrambling.   The path is always narrow and there is a feeling of exposure almost at every step, though obviously some bits were worse than others.   For much of the way you can see right down to the Glencoe road and it is mighty steep.   I didn't think the other side was quite as steep and despite what they say about it not being possible to escape from the ridge I think you probably could get off on the north side.  Down onto a very narrow col which seems to be a feature of the ridge.   At each of them gullies come up from both sides making the path very narrow and exposed.   There was still a wind but you weren't really aware of it and it never got you worried in any way.   I gulped when I saw the famed chimney as it looked a bit higher and steeper than I had expected.     Of course as always it wasn't as bad as you thought and the holds were excellent.   Nice though as it really gave you the feeling of achievement as this is regarded as a rock climb.   Mighty easy for rock climbers but still had us chuffed.     After this it  was bump after bump (or pinnacle after pinnacle) and you lost track as to the number.   They seemed to go on and on.   One of the features of this ridge they say is that the difficulties cannot be by-passed but we found on a number of the bumps there were paths going round the side.   No idea if they were false paths (though they looked well worn) or not but Graeme and I found it just as easy to go straight over the top on most of them.   Didn't seem any point in going round.    Going down another chimney was a little awkward but on a slant rather than vertical.   Once you got over to the chimney itself the way down was easy.   There was also another awkward climb up a bit where there was an almost overhanging wall on your right and a severe drop on your left.   The problem was that your rucsac tended to stick in the cleft on your right forcing you to lean a bit to the left.   Graeme forewarned me but it still made for a hairy little climb.   After a few more of these never ending pinnacles I kept wondering where and what the crazy pinnacles were.   In fact we were getting closer to the next Munro and I was beginning to think that perhaps one or two of the narrower pinnacles had been the crazy pinnacles and that we had without knowing already passed them.   Suddenly, however, over another top and there ahead of us were two rock towers with vertical drops on either side.   I assume they are the crazy pinnacles but I'm still not 100% certain.   Whatever they were frightening.   I have no doubt whatsoever that if there had been any alternative way round or under them I would have taken it.   I would never voluntarily have gone over these.   But there was no option, they were there and you had to go over them.   Sheer either side we managed to get over the first without any real difficulty.  The second one looked impossible but an older couple ahead of us gave us a clue.   They had tried to go round on the right but couldn't and came back to go up the side.   The only way up was to step out to the right, over the vertical drop and then climb up.   The exposure is incredible as you know you are standing on a cliff possibly hundreds of feet above nothing.   However the holds are so good and your concentration so intense that you have no fear at all and are soon on top of the pinnacle.   Again it amazed me to be on top of a narrow pinnacle without the slightest fear.   Even a year ago I would have been hanging on like grim death.   The adrenaline must have been roaring through me.     The ridge was now more or less over though we still had to go over a little roof top (like the Saddle) which gave no problem.   There was also a nasty little narrow bit I can't remember if before or after the crazy pinnacles.    You come up from the side on to a narrow rock pavement, three or four feet wide and vertical on either side.   At the end is a gap you have to stride or jump over.     I didn't find it in any way difficult but it does make you gulp a little before jumping over it.   After this it is just a steep climb to the top Stob Coire Leith and then a steady stroll to the summit of Sgor nam Fionnaidh.     Guinness well appreciated and both of us had a feeling of achievement and satisfaction.  Lots of chat and camaraderie with the Welsh guys and others.
Eventually after much discussion I agreed to go down by the route to the Clachaig Inn.  The Welshmen (from the Welsh mountain climbers club they told us) had warned us not to go this way but said that  if we did we should keep to the right as much as possible in the gully as the path was very, very loose and awkward.   At this point I had not realised that the reference in the Munro books to several fatalities had been in respect of this path.   I had thought they meant the straight route down off the summit.   Perhaps just as well I didn't know.   The path off the top soon splits one way to the Pap, the other to the Clachaig Gully.   The gully is about 500 yards down and, not to put too fine a point on it, it is diabolical.   All  scree and you keep sliding and slipping all the way.It was only my rucsac acting as a cushion that saved me from a few bruises I think.   Keeping to the right helped as you could for much of the way keep your balance by hanging on to the cliff wall.   Even so it was a horrendous descent.   At the bottom the gully goes off to the left and an ordinary path over grass starts on the right.   This is the point I found out later, where many of the accidents take place as the gully on the left goes on into a gorge.   As it was, the path, while better than the gully, is still not easy as it zigzags the whole way down.   It is very steep and has a lot of loose rock.  There are also a few places you have to scramble down and at least one place you have to scramble across a cliff over a fairly long drop.  The last few hundred feet went quickly and we were soon at the Clachaig Inn.   Unfortunately with a long  drive to England ahead of us we couldn't afford to go in for a pint of celebration.   Looking back up at the very visible jagged scar right up the hill I thought I'm really glad we came down that way.   There was again a real feeling of achievement that we had come down that notorious path.   But I would never recommend it for anyone, it's awful.   At the Clachaig Inn great news when one of the Welshmen offered us a lift back to collect our car and their second car.   The walk back would have killed us and it was great to get the lift.   The trip over the ridge had taken us over eight hours but was worth it.   I was on an adrenaline high for about three days after and really feel I've achieved something.  
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