Stob Ghabhar - 1090m
Friday 14th May 2010
Weather/Conditions: Sun/cumulus cloud mainly. A couple of passing showers, apart from high winds on Stob Ghabhar and heavy wind and snow on the Aonach Eagach ridge.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 16.2km / 1200m / 6h 30m
Accompanying: Bealach MC - Dave (for both summits), Colin (second summit) and Diane.
Morning is never the time to be up when you're ill, but a rendezvous with Dave and Diane in Glasgow Queen Street station demanded I get up. It wasn't pretty but I made it into the city centre and met them. We stopped by a Balloch supermarket before doing the climbers weekend commute up the A82. It had been an early start but I was already feeling a bit better.
By the time we arrived in Victoria Bridge near Bridge of Orchy, I was craving sleep and was doubtful of my ability to walk. We set off for the hills, and I knew I should take it easy today...
Stob a' Choire Odhair
The weather was good and the area around Victoria Bridge was quite beautiful with it's hills and Caledonian Forest. From the car park, a short walk up the West Highland Way took us to Forest Lodge where we turned right and onto the long track alongside Abhainn Shira. At the Clashgour Hut, a small path runs behind and onto the hillsides and we followed this between Stob Ghabhar and the other Munro Stob a' Choire Odhair. Diane and Colin wanted to take it easy - they would head up the glen and meet us at the bealach between the two hills, while Dave and I would go the high way over Stob a' Choire Odhair and meet them on the other side.
Stob a' Choire Odhair offered an unproblematic ascent, just fairly long. On the summit in good time, we took a quick break before heading westwards to Stob Ghabhar. It looks forbidding from this angle, snow-choked gullies enclosed the steep corrie and lochan. It looked like a fairly lonely place across there. Cloud skirted the summit of Ghabhar, and in front lay the ridge of the Aonach Eagach. The slopes looked steeper than hoped for but it was the standard route up that mountain and there should be bits of a path at the least.
Nearer the top of Odhair, the zigzagging path ran out and stony slopes led to the summit cairn. The summit was clear but there was a slight lack of views up here today, cloud obscuring views in many directions. Just a five minute break, then we continued on towards Stob Ghabhar.
Down at the bealach between the Munros, Dave and I couldn't see Colin or Diane - they turned out to be higher up on the ridge so we came up behind them and joined them on the slog onto the shoulder of the Aonach Eagach ridge. I wondered how this section would be since online reports hinted at steep slopes and scrambling. It was in fact very easy, almost do-able with hands in pockets.
Then on the ridge, the winds struck and brought snow showers with them that battered us until I was feeling cold. The snow was watery and stuck in enormous clumps. It's not the kind of stuff you'd try and stay outside in for too long. In high winds, we crossed the Aggy Ridge towards Ghabhar, where although high winds made the experience quite intense, I wouldn't have said there was any problematic scrambling. Then with the final push to go to the top, Diane headed off the SE shoulder of Ghabhar and Colin, Dave and I reached the top together. The weather had cleared a little, so the sun was out while although wind was still pushing around the cloud around and rain. Very spectacular!
Then a long descent down Stob Ghabhar's SE shoulder to meet Diane and a long walk back to the car, down the track, past the Clashgour Hut and Forest Lodge and back to the car park. By the end of the day, I was tired, but I was also feeling pretty good. I could tell the illness was disappearing so much so that I had a couple at the Kingshouse that evening (although that might also have been a bit over the top).
We were spending the weekend in the Blackrock Cottage, beneath the White Corries Ski Centre and with the Buachaille Etive Mor in full view. it's basic accommodation, but absolutely wonderful. The one thing that could have helped would have been a fridge to store some of the food however, and the meat and juice went off untouched.
Stob a' Choire Odhair
(0.00) 10.50am Victoria Bridge car park
(2.10) 1.00pm Stob a' Choire Odhair
(4.15) 3.05pm Stob Ghabhar
(6.30) 5.20pm Victoria Bridge car park