In the company of friends (cont’d) … Continuing on to Stob Ghabhar [# 67 & 68]

Stob a’ Choire Odhair (945m); Stob Ghabhar (1090m)

  • Pronunciation:              Stob a Horrer Ower; Stob Roo-er
  • Translation:                   Peak of the Grey-Brown (Dun) Corrie; Goat Peak
  • Total distance:              17.5km
  • Total time:                     7hrs 33mins
  • Total ascent:                 1349m
  • Weather:                        Blustery. Mainly dry and windy, but with some heavy snow and hail showers. Visibility, even in the snow showers wasn’t too problematic, but only occasionally did it yield any long distance panoramas. Quite cold when in the full force of the wind.
  • 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.

    Roy ascending Stob a Choire Odhair with Stob Ghabhar in the background

The ascent of Stob a’ Choire Odhair with our friends Roy and Mary is covered in the previous “guest” blog entry.

As noted previously, Roy and Mary decided to make their way back via Coire Toaig after completing the first Munro and would rendezvous with us at the car-park after we finished the second climb.

Stob Ghabhar from the slopes of Stob a Choire Odhair

So Elaine and I left Roy and Mary at the col sitting comfortably in the snow enjoying the rest of their lunch whilst we eyed our route up the final steep ridge-line. The ridge started at around 700m and extended steeply and unbroken in an arc first heading towards the west but then extending right through until we were climbing south just before intersecting with the top of the Aonach Eagach ridge, which climbed to the same point from the ESE. As we climbed higher we looked back at the diminutively reducing figures of Roy and Mary far below, until at one point, as we were high on the ridge, we saw them depart from their snowy lunch stop.

Roy and Mary at the summit of Stob a Choire Odhair

Our crampons, which we’d all donned on the descent from the summit of Stob a’ Choire Odhair, now came into their own as we front-pointed up a steep heavily layered ice pack: the top inch comprised a friable crusty layer lying on a denser névé. Towards the upper section of the ridge the angle of the slope rapidly became “interestingly” steep and Elaine resorted to daggering with her ice-axe. Meanwhile, the gale-force wind drove hail and ice directly into our faces.

Elaine ascending steep snow ridge on Stob Ghabhar

We topped out by intersecting the top of Stob Ghabhar Aonach Eagach (ESE) ridge, which although looked heavily corniced from below was in fact very straightforward to surmount. This new ridge, which was moderately broad at our point of arrival, soon narrowed down to just a rocky crest a couple of feet wide in places and with very steep icy drops on either side. The wind and driving hail made the traverse slightly tricky and we both had to remain vigilant and steady on our cramponed feet.  This sharp, narrow crest lasted a couple of hundred metres (horizontally) before it once again opened out and where it then started to climb to reach the summit of Stob Ghabhar at 1090m or 3,576’. The wind on the summit was so strong and the view so limited (to only a few metres) we simply took a quick obligatory summit photo and turned-tail to retrace our steps to begin our descent. Just before the ridge narrowed again along the rocky crest we turned SSE (marked by a small rocky cairn) and descended a very broad ridge to eventually join the stalker’s path that we’d used earlier in the day.

Elaine on the summit of Stob Ghabhar

From high up on this descending ridge we spotted Roy and Mary as barely two minute dots walking back down the track through the glen. To us they appeared a long way away, which was unfortunate as this was the track that we eventually needed to join. Despite the apparent distance to the track, the deep and uniform snow pack actually aided our descent and allowed us to cover the route back to the track very quickly. Our last obstacle was to find a suitable point to cross the Allt Toaig burn before finally joining the path back to the green tin bothy. As with Roy and Mary, now only a matter of 10 minutes ahead of us, we too saw the herds of stags, reluctant to give up their feeding spots despite us passing close by.

As we passed the deer the rain and sleet took hold in earnest and despite it taking us only a further fifteen minutes to reach the car we were soaked by the time we arrived.

Looking back to Stob a Choire Odhair from Stob Ghabhar

After bundling our wet gear into the car we set off in convoy to the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, where alongside steaming cups of tea and coffee we were shown slides by Roy of the many minerals that he’s collected over the years on foraging trips to Scotland, including to the Cairngorms (many times), Knoydart, Islands of Rum and Skye, Dumfries and Galloway to name but a few locations. It was very obvious that Roy and Mary were seasoned travellers throughout Scotland, with Roy’s knowledge of the geology and mineralogy second to none.

About Cameron Speirs

Born and brought up in the Scottish Highlands, Cameron, has been interested in outdoor pursuits since he was a wee lad. Over the last few decades he has climbed extensively in the Italian Dolomites as well as summiting the Matterhorn and several other 4000m alpine peaks. Closer to home he has spent many wonderful weekends mountaineering and biking in Snowdonia, Cairngorms, Glen Coe, Skye and Lochaber.
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