Friday, 11 January 2008

Stob Ban on a bike

Looking north towards the Fort from Coire a' Mhusgain

I'm still waiting for the conclusion of my insurance claim so am still car-less up here in the hills. I'm also currently unemployed, which is good in that I can go climbing when ever its good, but is bad because I have no money. Harumph.

The combination of these factors led to the hatching of a wee plan that saw me cycling down Glen Nevis to the Lower Falls car park this morning, then walking up into Coire a' Mhusgain on Stob Ban in the Mamores. Many a time have I looked up at the pyramidal peaks of this hill while getting a spanking on the Heather Hat and wondered if there were any routes to be done. There are a handfull listed in the Ben Nevis guide, including the 200m East Ridge on North Buttress (II/III**), so I thought I'd go and see what I could find.

Stob Ban back in November. East Ridge is the nearest skyline ridge, starting well below the snow line.

It wasn't that cold and fresh snow made the approach fairly tedious and sweaty, but eventually I got to a wee rowan tree at the base of the ridge (indicating how low the snow line is, and how low the start of the route is), donned my pons and helmet, downed a kellogs square bar, and went to with a will. I soloed up some nice turfy grooves for about 100m, interspersed with big snowy ledges at about grade II. The turf was patchy, bomber in places and soggy in others and everything was buried by a good few inches of fresh whiteness. I continued on up until I got to a steeper step that looked a touch airy and scarey to solo on my own so about turned and escaped leftwards. Inspection afterwards showed that my bailing spot was just beneath the big half-way snow slope on East Ridge and probably the crux of the route. The picture was taken part way up, with the top of the ridge hidden in the ming.

The low snow line and clouded summits are prompting a fair bit of lower level exploration in Lochaber. Check out Donald and Mike's new route here.

The top of one of my turfy grooves

The weather is looking good for tomorrow, so the question is this: do I go climbing or do I try my hand at skiing for the first time?

No comments: