M51 | 1099 m. | 3606 ft.
Translation: Peak of the large rounded hill
Pronuncation: skor a vaim

On a sunny morning, half past nine, Frank and I reached the end of the road in Glen Nevis and parked our car. Putting on our gear we looked around, glimpsed views of the surrounding summits through the lifting clouds and finally started the tour, heading into Glen Nevis. We crossed the river by means of the wire bridge, then crossed the Allt Coire a’Mhail below the Steall Waterfall and picked up the path leading into the northern corrie of An Gearanach. This path heads up into the corrie over terrain characterized by gravel, grass and slabs. Higher up in the corrie it zigzags until after one final right turn the ridge is reached leading steeply onwards to An Gearanach. Here the view opened up.

The weather conditions being as they were the Ring of Steall, Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg, the Aonachs and the southern flank of the Grey Corries sprang into full view. Alas, the summit had to be gained and so we continued up the last 300m to the summit of An Gearanach. A snack replenished exhausted reserves of carbohydrates and then we headed on to An Garbanach. This section of the ring provided most of the fun as scrambling goes and was far more interesting than the Devil’s ridge. All too soon we reached the more spacious summit of Stob Coire a’Chairn from where our eyes explored the eastern part of the Mamores with Binnein Mor and Na Gruagaichean standing out as the major attractions.

And on we went over some bump in the ridge before we had to tackle the north-east ridge of Am Bodach which is really quite steep, rocky and has some sections strewn with scree. But steep terrain allows quick gain of height and in no time at all we banged into the summit of this third Munro of the day. No real rest here. On the way to Sgur an Iubhair we met a dozen elderly hikers who were doing the ring in the opposite direction and who seemed to be enjoying themselves with, perhaps, the exception of one or two who gave the impression of being hard-pressed to keep up with the front-runners of the group. Never mind.

At the top of Sgur an Iubhair Frank and I took in another ten minutes of views and recalled our tour of Mullach nan Coirean and Stob Ban done in 1998 together with Stephanie on a warm September day. Then the rucksacks were back on our backs again and we headed for the last Munro of the hike, Sgurr a’Mhaim. But before that final summit lay the Devil’s ridge, supposedly the most interesting feature of the whole ring. For me it did not live up to the expectations raised by the SMC guidebook. An easy stroll along an admittedly narrow ridge with one or two sections which needed a bit of handwork. Ok, not too bad, but a piece of cake in summer conditions. Under snow the traverse is certainly a different kind of story!

The final steepening up to Sgurr a’Mhaim was strenuous but we very soon got to the cairn in the lee of which we rested, quite well-protected from the wind which began to pick up. Thunderstorms developing over Ben Nevis (Later we learned from the TV that a hiker had been killed by a lightning on Ben Oss that day). With energy restored to our legs by means of sandwiches and the prospect of a good soaking should Ben Nevis not drain the water from the towering cumulus clouds we quickly made our way down the easy north-west ridge of Sgurr a’Mhaim which we followed all the way – even down the very steep grassy sections of the lower part of the ridge – down to the flat section west of point 483. We contoured around this knoll on its north side and strolled down occasionally steepish grass slopes to the Water of Nevis which we reached at the end of the flats right before the gorge.

We thanked providence for sparing us from having to descend the steep gras in a thunderstorm and waded through the refreshingly cold Water of Nevis to gain the other bank of the river. From there we walked back to the parking with the sun shining through the trees. Frank and I had spent a truly beautiful day out on the hills and I developed some nice sunburns on my arms and calves as I discovered later that evening. A perfect day!

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Description Sgurr a' Mhaim is the highest mountain in the western half of the Mamores and it stands in a fine position above Glen Nevis , a prominent feature of the view up the glen from Fort William. Like Stob Ban, its upper slopes are covered with quartzite boulders which give the mountain a pale grey appearance. The finest feature of the mountain is its south ridge leading to the two Tops, Stob Choire a' Mhail and Sgor an Iubhair. This ridge, known as the Devil's Ridge, is very narrow and in winter has a decidedly Alpine appearance.The ascent is most easily made from Achriabhach in Glen Nevis. Follow the stalker's path towards Coire a' Mhusgain for a short distance and then strike directly up the north-west shoulder of Sgurr a' Mhaim which gives a long steady climb to the summit, at first up grassy slopes and then on quartzite boulders and scree. There is a path for most of the way. Instead of descending by the same route, go south along the narrow ridge to Stob Choire a' Mhail. Care is needed, particularly in winter, at the narrow part of the ridge, which is quite exposed. At the col before Sgor an Iubhair a stalker's path leads down in steep zigzags to the col at the head of Coire a' Mhusgain. Return to Glen Nevis by the path down this corrie.