In the company of friends

Stob a’ Choire Odhair (945m)

  • Pronunciation:              Stob a Horrer Ower
  • Translation:                   Peak of the Grey-Brown (Dun) Corrie
  • Start / end location:   At the car-park just prior to Victoria Bridge on the A8005, which is accessed from the Bridge of Orchy Hotel on the A82. [OS Map Sheet 50 – Grid Ref: NN 271 418]
  • Map:                                A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window. The map displays on most browsers, but not unfortunately Internet Explorer.

    Looking across to Stob Ghabhar

Today our friends Roy Starkey and wife Mary from Worcestershire joined us on our outing to climb Stob a’ Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar near Bridge of Orchy. Near a col below the final ascent to the summit of the second Munro Mary decided that this last pull up the very steep ridge would be a “ridge too far” today and so she and Roy made their way back down the long glen to our parked cars. In this blog, written by Roy and Mary, they describe the day’s activities including the climb to the summit of Stob a’ Choire Odhair, descent to the col where we parted company, and then the walk back to their waiting car. The climb up to the second Munro by Cameron and Elaine is picked up in the subsequent blog entry.

[Words and photographs by Roy and Mary Starkey]

When I heard about Cameron & Elaine’s “adventure” back last year I resolved that we would go and meet up with them along the way – ideally whilst there was still some snow on the mountains.

Looking west along the Abhainn Shira towards Loch Dochard

We met up for a “team bonding and planning” session at Paddy’s Bar in Tyndrum (part of the Tyndrum Lodge Hotel. It was agreed that we would tackle Stob Ghabar (1087m – Goat Peak) and Stob a’ Choire Odhair (943m – Peak of the dun-coloured Corrie) in the Blackmount. These two hills lie a few kilometres north-west of the west end of Loch Tulla and the recommended start-point is the car park at Victoria Bridge, which is where we arranged to meet at 9am. It was snowing hard in Tyndrum at breakfast time and the A82 was beginning to white-over, but as we crossed the county boundary and began to descend towards Bridge of Orchy, the road cleared and the weather began to look altogether more promising. The minor road leading to Victoria Bridge and the Inveroran Hotel is always scenic and never more so than when the surrounding mountains are covered in snow – it looked just great this morning!

The Team with Stob a' Choire Odhair beyond (the zig zag stalker's path is visible on the sunlight snow-covered slope)

We set out in bright conditions and soon found ourselves following the track along the north bank of the Abhainn Shira, in driving rain / snow! Fortunately the squall was short-lived and as we approached the small bothy at the foot of the Allt Toaig the sun came out and everything seemed set fair for a pleasant ascent. We enjoyed fine views over to the great mass of Stob Ghabhar and were soon at the foot of the normally well-defined stalker’s path up the southwestern flank of Stob a’ Choire Odhair. We headed straight up the steep grassy slopes (covered in beautiful fresh powder snow, dazzlingly bright in the pleasant sunshine) and intersected the zig-zags someway up the shoulder. The snow was extremely deep in places, which caused much amusement as we took it in turns to disappear up to our knees or worse!

The summit of Stob a' Choire Odhair (the horizontal lines are streaks of snow!)

The brightness of the early morning gave way to periodic blizzards and we were forced to keep our hoods up to keep off the worst of the stinging ice particles. Better visibility returned as we gained the final slopes, and we saw a pair of Ptarmigan who seemed quite oblivious to our presence, but predictably the weather deteriorated dramatically and the view disappeared shortly before we reached the summit, and conditions were in fact fairly wild on the top. After a quick Team Photo we made a swift descent to get out of the wind and had a brief lunch stop on the col between the two Munros.

Cameron and Elaine starting the ascent of the Aonach Eagach

Given that we had come straight from “civvie street” and had not been up a mountain since a day in North Wales before Xmas, and Mary was breaking in some new winter boots, we decided to bow-out at this point and let Cameron and Elaine go on to make their way up the exciting Aonach Eagach ridge and onto Stob Ghabhar. When the clouds lifted and blizzards abated we were able to see them make their way down along the skyline.

Stag by the Abhainn Shira

We contoured round the northeast side of Coire Toaig, negotiating some interestingly deep drifts of powder snow and made our way down to join the path which we had ascended earlier in the day. We had some good sightings of deer along the way, and one stag in particular stood his ground next to a salt lick, offering a good opportunity for a photo.

As we passed by the small green corrugated iron bothy I could not help noticing the yellow enamelled plaque on the side, informing us that this magnificent structure, which blends perfectly into the surroundings, had been built by none other than Speirs Ltd., Glasgow.

Heritage plaque on the bothy at the foot of the Allt Toaig

Speirsesque Bothy at the foot of the Allt Toaig

We reached the cars shortly before Cameron & Elaine and were fortunate to get de-togged just ahead of a nasty rain squall, which the others arrived just in time to enjoy to its full extent!

We then retired to the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, which provided welcome cups of tea and coffee, an excellent wedge of Carrot Cake, and a truly splendid wood-burning stove. We took the opportunity to run through a few of the day’s photos, and some others which Roy happened to have on the laptop, before saying farewell and heading back to Tyndrum, leaving Cameron and Elaine to enjoy another wild night of camping (or should that be wild camping?).

We hope to be able to catch up with them again later in the year – best of luck with the rest of the trip folks!

About Roy Starkey

Roy grew up in the south of England but quickly developed a thirst for mountains and geology. Over the past thirty years or so he has visited many remote parts of highland Scotland in search of mineral specimens and photographs. He and his wife Mary have visited various mountainous areas in Europe and the USA, and climbed Half Dome in Yosemite a year or two ago (a really great day out if you have not done it). Like Cameron he has spent much time in Snowdonia, and the Lake District, but his first love is the Scottish Highlands where he tries to spend at least a couple of weeks every year – winter and summer.
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