Stob Dearg (Buachaille Etive Mor) - 1022m
Thursday 9th August 2012

Weather/Conditions: Perfect conditions in every way (apart from those midges). Awesome awesome awesome.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 6.8km / 850m / 7h 45m
Accompanying: Tom

This was a cool day. I had the car to myself, everyone was away, the weather was amazing. So why not go to Glen Coe? I invited my pal Tom, ("No you don't have to pay petrol, I'm going anyway") and decided Buachaille Etive Mor would be a good one. Besides, Tom and I had failed to get up Ben Lomond not long previously and this would make a good first Munro for him.

As we came across the summit of Rannoch Moor a funny thing happened. Tom: "Wow. What's that?" Me: "Buachaille. That's what we're going up." Tom: "..."

We stopped at the lay-by beside the head of the Glen Etive road for photos and then we went off to Alltnafeadh and it's car-eating potholes.

It was a great day - no need to rush. After Curved Ridge in July, I had played with the idea of soloing North Buttress. Having Tom along put that idea to rest - but maybe it was just as well. I lead that route a few weeks later and was glad I'd roped up - for the vast quantities of loose rock as much as anything. Instead we had a cool day on the Coire na Tulaich path, up to the ridge and then onward over the boulder fields to the summit.

We talked about many things, but one thing stuck out asides the bitching (kidding! - or not really...), which was Tom's dislike to girl who was coming down the Buachaille covered in makeup. "City folk..." he said. (he's a grumpy county bumpkin at heart)

We headed up the summit ridge over red rocks, bright in the sun, to the top. A couple folk were there. I think they said they'd come up January Jigsaw on the Rannoch Wall (and I was a bit envious). The memorial plaque on the summit was still there. Leaving my rucksack at the top, I scrambled down the east face to Crowberry Tower and with surprise, found myself in the slot between the main face and the Tower.

It was an even greater surprise to find that the scramble to the top of the Tower from here was a minor scramble. Although the Tower is near vertical, the ledges spiral around the pinnacle so there's is nothing desperately steep involved. It had worked out much easier to climb, and a lot less frightening, than I had imagined. I explored the area a bit, and everywhere cliffs and scree dropped in mind-bending, amazing, exposure to the Moor. The sun cast a huge shadow of the Buachaille onto the Moor - a perfect triangle, almost. But I had to get back up to Tom and the summit before I got carried away completely.

Tom had a problem: on the last climb to the summit, his knee had become pretty painful. And thus the descent of the mountain became one long, drawn out walk back down to the bottom and I can honestly say the fun really started to drain away! Taking advantage of our really slow progress, the midges came out and it became a bit of a nightmare in that respect. Tom was in some pain by the bottom. The cliffs shone gold in the last light of the sun, but it would have been nice to have watched from the car park instead of being stuck out on the hill.

Following a long (and for Tom, really painful) descent, we made it back to the car - at very last light. Thus we didn't get the Real Food Cafe before it shut and too tired to chat, had a long drive home in the dark - I even had to pull over for five minutes shut eye, which doesn't happen all the time.

All in all, a really good day though. I had an amazing time. Some days aren't about what mountains you climb or what route you take. The mountain is just a device or focus to get you to that place where the overwhelming peace overrides and tranquillity find it's way inside you - which must be an alright crack in explaining my business in climbing mountains week in, week out for years.

Photos: Coire na Tulaich

Summit Ridge

Crowberry Tower


Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 1.40pm Alltnafeadh
(3.55) 5.35pm Stob Dearg
(4.40) c. 6.20pm Stob Dearg (left)
(7.25) 9.25pm Alltnafeadh

Written: 2012-10-30