Stob na Doire - 1011m
Stob Coire Altruim - 941m
Stob na Broige - 956m

Friday 26th June 2009

Weather/Conditions: Sunny day with plenty of cumulus, all above the summits. Strong wind from the SE.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 11.7km / 900m / 3h 30m
Accompanying: Alone

During the evening of the 25th June, I camped on top of Cruach Ardrain and in the morning on the 26th, I descended to Crianlarich where I met Dave of Up A Mountain MC. On today's schedule was the Buachaille Etive Mor at Glen Coe. Dave and I met James and Dougie at Tyndrum's 'By The Way' bunkhouse where we were to spend the night, and four of us subsequently headed north. I had climbed the main peak Stob Dearg in 2005, although hadn't been to any other tops along the ridge. Climbing these was therefore high on my agenda. James, Dave and Dougie would have a shot at Curved Ridge and if all went well, I'd meet them somewhere on the mountain. To give us the greatest chance of meeting along the way, I'd climb to the top of Coire na Tulaich and turn right, walk as far as Stob na Broige, turn around, climb over the ridge to Stob Dearg, then descend via. Coire na Tulaich.

Stob na Doire

Four of us set off from Altnafeadh at 2.05pm and I split off from the other three just beyond Lagangarbh. I followed the path up Coire na Tulaich, feeling very well today. Having hauled camping gear up Cruach Ardrain the day before, I had the pleasure of travelling light. I was glad to be moving quickly because I didn't want to spend long in this corrie. I'd had enough memories of a sweltering, tedious climb from 2005 and I desired to reach the top as soon as possible. I also wanted to just to see how fast I could...

A boulder strewn track made for fast progress, often I was walking over bedrock. I climbed steadily, reaching the upper reaches off the corrie in good time. My one small concern was route finding at the headwall. In 2005, I'd ended up clinging to steep scree and didn't want to see a repeat of that today. I was pleased to find that a good path now takes you all the way to the top. Near the top the path splits in two, the most obvious path heading onto steep scree. The less obvious path is the correct route, although someone has built a small wall across the obvious (wrong) path, keeping me and I'm sure others on track.

Then a small "staircase" of rock offered a little excitement (although no scrambling minus the use of one or two hands) and led me the final steps to the bealach. I arrived here at 3.05pm, one hour after I had started.

I took a break at the bealach. I'd pushed hard up to the point, and now wanted to go the final way to Stob na Doire. Stob na Doire is a beautiful peak must be one of most striking of Munro Tops. Hardly a top in my eyes, it's bulk and shape is staggering, especially when seen from the A82. After several minutes rest, I continued on my way to it's summit. Additionally, the wind was quite strong here and I didn't want to sit and cool. It was a short walk to the summit, where I sheltered out of the wind.

I took another five minutes, taking the customary photographs as well as phoning home. One quick call left me in wonderful spirits, amplified by the wonder of the landscape I was in. It was a beautiful day and an inviting ridge led towards Stob na Broige. The Glen Etive Munros lay to the south and to the north was Nevis. Mountains were everywhere in every direction, and I was reminded of how little I've climbed in Glen Coe, because all these views were new. If there's any place I should visit more often, it's Glen Coe.

Stob na Broige

The descent from Stob na Doire towards Stob na Broige was steep, on slightly loose ground, and with big drops. Following the crest of a ridge that drops off to either side unrelentingly had it's own beauties and in my experience, walking that crest was perhaps the best part of the walk. Having extracted such a positive experience from this, I greatly anticipate visiting places like Kintail. Maybe I was on a good day, but I had a very positive feeling.

At the bottom of Stob na Doire, the ridge widened, came to a bealach and ascended once more to Stob Coire Altruim. This was as close to a slog on the ridge as I would come, but I didn't mind for the ascent wasn't sustained. Additionally, I could see into Coire Altruim for the first time, a common means of descent. I'd often wondered how steep this corrie was, how frequently it was used, etc. It took me by surprise to see a clear path descending into the corrie, seemingly without a hint of scrambling.

Upon reaching Stob Coire Altruim (a Munro Top), I continued along the final ridge to Stob na Broige, the Munro. I'd just finished taking a summit panorama when I received a text: the other guys were bailing out of Curved Ridge. I could understand why if it were the wind that had stopped them - it was strong enough here and would be strong enough for me to reconsider committing to a scramble. I'd find out exactly why though later. My immediate thoughts were directed to reaching Altnafeadh by the quickest route. So instead of going back over the ridge to Stob Dearg, I'd go down Coire Altruim to the Lairig Gartain and shoot along back to the car park. With complete honesty, I'd say that this change in situation did not bother me once - climbing Stob Dearg wasn't a necessity and I'd been before too. I was damn grateful that the other guys should give me a lift up and then be okay with me going off alone, so when it came to reconsidering plans, a descent to the Lairig Gartain made perfect sense. What's more is that it would be new terrain for me, and new terrain's always a good thing. I've always said and maintain that to experience a mountain in the best way possible is to do several ascents, by different routes in different conditions. It's a sort of intimacy and knowledge of the ground, the desire not just to climb a summit but to explore. I try to 'explore' as much as possible, but I don't deny the list ticking compulsion either. As long as ticking boxes isn't an obsession.

Descent to Altnafeadh

Now with the target of Altnafeadh firmly in mind, I left Stob na Broige, walking with some speed again. Getting back in good time was helped by the fact that I didn't have to do any more ascending, so I headed over Stob Coire Altruim and then down to the bealach below. I was keen to get down fast because I figured that the others wouldn't be long back to the car. During descent, I often took to running. I could do this for the path was in good condition, but that added the risk of becoming airborne. Though all in all, I enjoyed the descent as well as the shifting views of the Buachaille Etive Beag. Now with mountains towering above, I reached the Lairig Gartain and crossed the river to the main track. This track has the reputation of becoming one great bog following rain, but we hadn't had much rain and it was largely dried out. I often crossed areas of dried mud, figuring that following rain, this is what everybody complained about. I find it unsurprising that people have talked about sinking up to their knees.

After pushing on ahead, I arrived at the A82 with some relief. The car was still some way down the road because I wasn't yet at Altnafeadh, although I followed it back. It was extremely busy here, there was little verge to walk on and no path, so I figured it would be safer to walk parallel to the road on the rough ground.

When I arrived at the car, it was to my great surprise that it was empty. I decided to walk up past Lagangarbh to see if I could get some signal, but just beyond it, I found Dave, James and Dougie walking in the opposite direction. They'd pulled out due to the inefficiency of having three on a rope, but they'd gone three quarters the way. Three quarters the way to the top of the Buachaille is a long way up.

We drove back to Tyndrum and for the evening, headed out to Paddy's Bar. We went back to the bunkhouse after plenty of food and drink (although a Diet Coke keeps me happy) myself getting to bed after 2am. Not the most clever of ideas when you've got another hill day in the morning. Next on the agenda: Ben Lui and Beinn a' Chleibh.

360° Panoramas

Stob na Doire

Stob na Broige

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 2.05pm Altnafeadh
(1.00) 3.05pm Top of Coire na Tulaich
(1.25) 3.30pm Stob na Doire
(2.05) 4.10pm Stob na Broige
(3.30) 4.35pm Altnafeadh
Written: 2009-07-05