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From White to Red & Grey to Blue - Stob Ban and the Mullach
by Graeme D » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:06 pm
Route description: Stob Ban (Mamores) and Mullach nan Coirean
Munros included on this walk: Mullach nan Coirean, Stob Ban (Mamores)
Date walked: 29/07/2012
Time taken: 6.8 hours
Distance: 12.3 km
Ascent: 1213m4 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
So, with myself having been in Cornwall for the first part of July and my colleague and good walking buddy Robin having then been in Antigua (see who got the short straw when it came to Summer 2012 holiday destinations then eh!), it was getting on for the end of July and we hadn't managed to get out together this summer holiday yet. A flurry of texts and cross-consultation of Munro maps duly ensued upon his return from Antigua as we looked to find some hills that neither of us had done. After quite a bit of deliberation, we finally settled on these two and I headed over to stay at his place on Saturday evening. A curry, a few beers and not nearly enough sleep later and we were away by 6.30 on the Sunday morning heading up the A9.
A minor spanner in the works was encountered at Dalwhinnie when we pulled into the Tollhouse Catering place on the station road to find it shut. It was still early on a Sunday morning I guess! So we soldiered on, both of us beginning to feel a bit dodgy as we headed along the side of Loch Laggan - probably the result of no breakfast and insufficient caffeine intake.
This situation was remedied when we pulled into the big car park behind the Spar in Spean Bridge and our eyes were drawn to the big sign outside the Commando Hotel next door advertising sausage, bacon and egg rolls! Sounded like just the job, so we ordered a couple up and sat at one of the wooden tables outside in a fine drizzle as we downed our rolls and hot drinks before continuing along the road to Fort Bill and onto the Glen Nevis road.
The Midge didn't take long to find us in the Lower Falls car park so we made a sharp exit along the road, over the bridge and through the gate onto the bog infested path that leads up into Coire a' Mhusgain.
Lower slopes of Coire a' Mhusgain
It was yet another of those classic Summer 2012 days for walking - light shower, delay putting waterproofs on 'cos it's far too clammy, rain gets heavier, waterproofs go on, internal pressure builds to intolerable levels due to steam build-up, waterproofs get ditched, sun comes out and huge patches of blue stuff appear overhead but still water falls from the sky, rain gets heavier still and there is little option but to suffer under the waterproofs, rain stops and a big yellow thing appears in the blue stuff overhead, walking partner narrowly avoids spontaneous self-combustion by getting gear off just in time, 10 minutes later the whole cycle starts again...... blah blah blah......
Stob Ban beginning to make her presence felt to our right
Back down Glen Nevis, Ben with his hat on
We had both wanted to do the route this way to take advantage of what we understood to be a decent path up into the upper reaches of the coire. The route is also described this way in the Cameron McNeish book and I wanted to take full advantage of how he described the ascent into Coire a' Mhusgain:
"Higher up, the coire opens out and you begin to feel the presence of Stob Ban. Towering from its gradual northern ridge it begins to dominate the scene, great scree runnels splitting the steep slopes into a complete system of buttresses and crags, the topmost ones sparkling white in the sun".
In the sun Cameron???? Aye, right! What did you have in your flask and in your sandwiches the day you did it????
Shades of the Aonach Eagach or Liathach
Heavy rainfall had turned the streams into serious water features
Crossing the stream below the lochan and turning for the ridge of Stob Ban
But wait, what is this we see happening before our eyes. The big yellow thing appears to be growing in strength and the blue stuff is becoming more widespread! By the time we reached the cairn at the junction of the stalkers' paths on the southern slopes of Stob Ban, it was seriously threatening to turn into a most uncharacteristically fine day!
Robin dwarfed by the majesty of Stob Ban
The buttresses loom out of the cloud
Sgurr a' Mhaim and the Devil's Ridge
Rays of sunshine battling to break through over Stob Ban
A wall of cloud scuds in fast and low over Sgurr an Iubhair and the lochan at the head of Coire a' Mhusgain
Sunshine on Stob Ban now
Blue skies over Sgurr a' Mhaim and the Devil's Ridge becoming more defined in the sun
Zooming in on the scene of my hairiest mountain moment to date
One of the highlights for me on that day back in April had been the view from the descent off Sgurr an Iubhair across the head of Coire a' Mhusgain to the rugged buttresses of Stob Ban. That day it had seemed to be less covered in snow than most of the Ring of Steall had been, but the fine lines of white fringing its crags and buttresses had given it a magical aura. In fact, one comment posted in reply to my report on that day had said that it looked like the mountain was just poised, ready to crumble. And so I was really looking forward to this part of the day and wasn't disappointed, even if things did close in a little as we got higher.
Stob Ban in all her glory
Robin and Lucy forging ahead
Down the ascent ridge and over to Sgurr a'Mhaim and Sgurr an Iubhair
More cloud billowing in
Around the side of Stob Ban to the Ben and the Halfway Lochan
Low cloud taking a firm grip again
The white stuff which gives this fine mountain its name
By the time we summited, the rain was back on and the only colour on display was grey. We even got a severe but short lived pelting from a hail shower before I managed to settle up the stand for a self timed congratulatory summit shot.
Robin and Lucy on the final approach to the summit
Just after our hailstone exfoliation
In the best traditions of the Law of Sod, things cleared again on the descent down to the broad, flat bealach above the lochan to the north west of Stob Ban as the white gave way to the oranges and reds of Mullach nan Coirean and its associated Tops.
Dropping north down off the summit
One of the vast north eastern buttresses
Scree sliding down to the bealach
Red now becoming the dominant colour scheme
Across the wee lochan and down Coire Dheirg into Glen Nevis below
Robin at the subsidiary cairn at the start of the curving ridge around to Mullach nan Coirean
Oh, where did I get that hat?
The weather then played ball and, bar the odd wispy cloud passing by on a fairly low trajectory, it stayed fairly settled for the remainder of the walk, or at least until the business end of the walk was over and we were descending the north east ridge of Mullach nan Coirean towards the forestry.
Skirting the crags and up towards the 917m point
Myself and Lucy investigating the rock finger
Mullach nan Coirean across the corner of Choire Dheirg
Kinlochleven through the clouds
Looking back over the corner of Choire Dheirg
On the large flat area between the 917m point and the second Munro summit
Glen Nevis, Sgurr a' Mhaim and the long north ridge of Stob Ban
From the summit of Mullach nan Coirean we enjoyed a stunning set of vistas back across all but the most distant of the Mamores, north over Fort William and the Ben and west across Loch Linnhe to Ardgour.
Summit of the Mullach
Full of Eastern Promise - the Mamores from Mullach nan Coirean
Whence we came
We stuck to the north east ridge on our descent until it joined the forestry at the new looking stile, although there was the mother of all bogs to negotiate on the lower slopes, where Robin's new Osprey pack was duly christened (if you can imagine!)
A distant Stob Ban from the start of the descent off Mullach nan Coirean
Looking the Ben straight in the eye
Sgurr a' Mhaim shining in the sunlight
It's as if the water courses have been drawn onto the landscape and coloured in!
Stob Ban of the Grey Corries shining bright away up beyond the end of Glen Nevis
Rainbow welcoming us back down into Glen Nevis
by Fudgie » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:24 pm
by jonny616 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:26 pm
The area could be my fav so far.
by HighlandSC » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:29 pm
And don't you think the route drawing looks like the shape of a pigs head.
by Graeme D » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:45 pm
Fudgie wrote:Wonderful stuff. Like yourself I admired Stob Ban from Sgurr a' Mhaim and your report is putting it at the top of my to do list. That ridge between the two summits looked like a great walk.
It certainly is Fudgie, and the thing is that although you can appreciate Stob Ban from the RoS, you don't get the full picture of the walk from it over to MnC. Now, get yourself up there pronto man!
jonny616 wrote:The area could be my fav so far.
I think I might be with you on that one jonny!
HighlandSC wrote:Cracking report Graeme. It's a stunning route. Glad you got some great views on a sketchy day. On doing this circuit I entered thick clag at about 300m and that was it for the day! Must go back on a good day.
And don't you think the route drawing looks like the shape of a pigs head.
Yeah, now you come to mention it!
Sketchy - that's probably the best way to describe the day weather-wise. We kind of winged it a bit weather-wise and got more good than bad.
by gammy leg walker » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:33 pm
by mrssanta » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:28 pm
Lovely photos but I must say it looks a bit too wet for me
by Johnny Corbett » Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:17 pm
by old danensian » Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:37 pm
by pigeon » Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:44 pm
by kevsbald » Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:34 pm
by ChrisW » Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:20 pm
by PeteR » Sat Aug 04, 2012 5:14 pm
Not sure about that hat though
by Bod » Sat Aug 04, 2012 7:57 pm