North Buttress
Buachaille Etive Mor (1022m)

Wednesday 2nd August 2017

Weather/Conditions: Lovely morning, turning to cloud and rain as the day went on.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 6.4km / 750m / 5h 35m
Accompanying: Kate

This trip up to the Buachaille was quite unexpected, the result of a morning of beautiful weather and my suggestion to Kate we go out climbing. I'd only climbed the North Buttress in summer once before, back in 2012. I was up it in winter a couple seasons ago, but I wouldn't have said I knew it like the back of my hand as I do Curved Ridge.

We started just after lunchtime by the car park at Altnafeadh that was absolutely rammed. As usual, cars were getting their undercarriages scraped off. I barely even tried to park there; not worth the hassle or risk in my car for certain.

We also had a forecast of rain arriving in a few hours. So while the morning had been great, it was also a race to get the route in before it started.

The Buachaille is such a 'roadside mountain' and it wasn't long before we were turning off up the eroded North Buttress track. Back in 2012 I dropped Dink's GoPro here and never found another bit of it. No doubt it would have been found long ago by someone, but probably not intact!

It's a relatively long way up to the base of the pitched section, which is a series of chimneys scoring through the middle of the buttress. Today my emphasis was on speed - taking quick belays and shorter pitches in favour over rope drag and hard communication. We geared up and I led it in five pitches. Back in 2012, I could barely find belays - now there would appear to be gear all over the place! Options increase with experience for sure. I feel as though I've now got around a bit, since those formative rock climbing days. But there's still a lot to do.

The rain kind-of arrived at the top of the climbing, then Kate and I pelted it up to the top. Crowberry Ridge looked spectacular, curving up the sie of the mountain. I pointed this out to Kate; we'd climbed on Rannoch Wall earlier in the year and had finished up Crowberry Ridge.

The summit of the Buachaille was dry but cloud was closing in, views coming and going and mist forming right in front of our eyes. All the same it was about time to get down, and we took the normal Coire na Tulaich route. In the end we didn't escape the rain, and it hammered down hard for the last walk to the car, which was parked on a verge near the almost-empty Altnafeadh. Everyone had obviously got in and out a lot earlier than us, and they would have escaped the rain too.

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 12.15pm Roadside parking nr. Altnafeadh
(1.35) 1.50pm Foot of N. Buttress pitches (c. 700m)
(3.50) 4.05pm Stob Dearg
(5.35) c. 5.50pm Parking

Written: 2017-08-15