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Stob Dubh in the snow

Stob Dubh in the snow


Postby neilmckenzie » Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:03 am

Munros included on this walk: Stob Dubh (Buachaille Etive Beag)

Date walked: 18/04/2006

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 7 km

Ascent: 900m

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This is taken from a blog I gave up writing years ago


In the morning I wake up at the crack of dawn... other than an incident where a crow attacked our tent, we slept pretty well.

I'm up and about by about 7am... there's something about me and mornings. Once I'm awake, I'm up and ready to start the day. I get out the tent for a **** and marvel at the beauty that surround me... it looks different with every glance, and the fresh morning fills your lungs and makes you feel alive!!!

I know it's going to be hours before Fraser surfaces, so I set about preparing breakfast. I stick on some eggs to boil, and see if I can get the fire going. It's likely to be a lost cause, but I need some entertainment. I have 3 wet logs and a soggy bog roll to work with, but I throw in a few fire lighters and a match and see what I can do.... within 30 minutes.. amazingly I have a roaring fire.... less can be said however for the eggs... they still aren;t boiling. We seem to have run out of gas.....

I head off to the car and get the hill walking books we brought. The weather has been flirting with me all morning, just when I think it's clearing to blue skys, it starts to rain, for this reason I'm flicking through a book looking for something pretty easy... something that doesn't take too long and will never put us too far away from the car. I've went hill walking with a few people and aside from his love of Jack Daniels, Fraser is one of my fitter companions, so we can probably takcle something reasonably interesting. I decicide to wait till we see what the weather does.....

I've made a fire... ran out of gas... chosen a mountain... and am now reallly hungry... I need Fraser to wake up

"HAW!!!!! WAKE UP"

Well that worked....

We make do with soft boiled duck eggs(well Fraser throws one of his at the aforementioned crow) , fruit juice, bananas, apples, hot cross buns and bread toasted on the fire...

We quickly clear up the tent and get the stuff back in the car... We're going to head to Glencoe visitor centre and get a coffee. From here we'll decide how the weather is and whether we're going to go walking or not.<br />

We're going to head up Stob Dubh, which is one of the Munros which make up Buchaille Etive Beag. As we make our way along the path we get wonderful views along glencoe:

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Ahead of us through the glen is Stob Dubh:

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We march along, our spirits are high.... we use the time to talk about our planned trip to Eastern Europe in August... there's mountains in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria... maybe we'll be there... who knows.. we just get off on the idea of packing a bag and living spontaneously for a month.


We continue along this path between the mountains, getting closer to stob dubh and moving around it's base. Our book says that once we get to the cairn marking the bealach(gorge) between the two peaks, we should head up the peak.... this information is all fine and well, but this point, the peak appears to be a wee bit steep. We walk a little further on and the peak softens, but it's clear that the path drops in altitude towards Glen Etive... so instead of continuing down and getting lost in the valley, we take to the steep side of the hill.

Over some food to rejuvenate us, we take the decision to make for the peak that we can see at the steep side.

After about 10 minutes of scrambling up the hill, our legs and arms are agony... we underestimated the steepness. It's not particularly dangerous, but it's really tough... we have to try to stick to the clumps of grass, as the stones and shingle are loose and don't support you enough to climb.... after what seems like an age, we are up at a high enough level that we now have snow to contend with. It's getting colder very quickly..... but the views are improving with every step:

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the wind is picking up and it's become clear that the peak was a false peak, there is another peak which seems extremely far away... we head towards that as the wind rips at our faces and the cold air makes our joints numb. Fraser is ahead of me, and we can't hear each other for the screech of the wind... I catch up to him on what seems to be the peak, and we quickly take some photos.

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We are pretty scared... looking at each other... but not admitting to each other how frightened we are. It's not that we are in any major danger... just that in order to stay alive, we have to march on through heavy hail with our leg muscles killing us...

We just want out of the stormy weather which engulfs us.... we are face to face with the elements... and it's not a very nice feeling... when we get over the peak, we can see the ridge stretch out before us with the wind and snow whirling around on either side of it... it's not the weather to hang around, so we march on.....

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We're staggering on along the ridge.... hoping that the weather will ease, or that we can in some way escape from nature, but we have to just trudge on, with no certain idea as to when it will end and we can go lower and shelter from nature.


After a while, we see a great site.... another walker walking towards us. He's going through this ordeal alone, something I can't imagine. We have a quick conversation... the usual bravado... he tells us that the other side is easy and we tell him that our side is easy.... even though both are anything but.....

We continue on... once we get the peak behind us, the weather eases a bit, but the snow becomes thick under foot. It's a wonderful site:


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We seem to be through the worst of the weather... People say that climbing mountains is good for the mind, cos once you're up there, all there is in your mind at that point is the mountain and you... survival... it kind of cleans out that work deadline that is approaching or whatever you've been losing sleep over.

For us it's just Mountain, ourselves and Pearl jam on Thursday. Everytime, one of us is down or quiet for too long the other shouts "PEARL JAM THURSDAY" and the smiles and energy return. Fraser claims that it was greed alone that kept him going, cos he didn't want anyone else getting his ticket.

From here in, we can see our way down... but its covered in snow.... it's not the icey stormy snow that was scarey 20 minutes ago on the ridge, but the soft snow that you make snow men out of.. We try wading through it for a little while, but swimming through snow is only getting us wet and cold. We decide to just jump and aim forward, tumbling and sliding down the side of the mountain... it's certainly a more entertaining way of descending the metres.....

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We carry on like this for a wee while, enjoying the fresh snow, coupled with the euphoria of the climb, and the relief in being able to see a path all the way back to the car. This euphoria and fun ends after about 15 minutes once we can't feel anything from the knee down.

Now it's the downhill trudge... tired legs, and random dips into snow up to your thigh to zap your energy. It's at this point that we have the option of detouring to climb Stob Coire Raineach, but there's no question of it... the weather has really taken its toll on us... our legs ache... the ground is getting softer and sliding about around our feet.


We continue on... the weather is deteriorating into annoy rain which lashes off our faces...

Eventually we get back to the car... another couple of climbers get a flash of our bums as we hurriedly get changed into some dry clothes...

The next hour in the car is almost silent, cos we are so tired, but after that we are reminiscing about interesting parts of the climb and forgetting the dread and agony of climbing over false peaks and wanting to be out of the snow...

2014 update - this is the climb that taught me that I need to do some homework with an OS map before I head out for a climb. I've given up on thinking I can climb munro's based on a wee book with some walks in it. I also learned that if the weather isn't up to it, you might just have to accept you;re not bagging a munro that day. The ignorance of youth!
neilmckenzie
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 40
Munros:34   Corbetts:5
Grahams:4   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Jan 17, 2012
Location: Glasgow

Re: Stob Dubh in the snow

Postby neilmckenzie » Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:09 am

In July, I am climbing Ben Nevis for Macmillan Cancer Support. Please consider donating to this very worthy cause. Every little helps:

http://www.justgiving.com/Neil-McKenzie2
neilmckenzie
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 40
Munros:34   Corbetts:5
Grahams:4   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Jan 17, 2012
Location: Glasgow

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