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Mullach Nan Coirean to Stob Ban with descent via North Ridge

Mullach Nan Coirean to Stob Ban with descent via North Ridge


Postby The Wanderer » Sun Feb 13, 2011 3:30 pm

Route description: Stob Ban (Mamores) and Mullach nan Coirean

Munros included on this walk: Mullach nan Coirean, Stob Ban (Mamores)

Date walked: 03/07/2009

Time taken: 6 hours

Ascent: 999m

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The weather was overcast and cool when we set off, having been dropped off at a pull in by the pine woods at the start of the walk.  We took the forest track for about 1.5 miles until we reached a small step ladder which marked the place where we climbed up into the woods.  The "path" up through the woods was steep and very boggy in places as it had been quite a wet summer.  However, the carpet of pine needles helped to make it passable.

After the steep climb we emerged on the open hillside.  The ground was still very boggy, especially around the high-rise stile over the fence, where a make-shift bridge consisting of a plank of wood led up to the step at the bottom of the stile.  Awaiting us on the other side of the stile was the very steep climb up towards the attractive red, fan-like summit of Mullach nan Coirean .   The route is described as a "broken path" and it simply meant that we followed the course of a stream, over pebbly and scree-like stream beds, avoiding the boggy bits at all costs! This is the sort of path which, when descending, is packed with knee knackers and ankle biters - that is to say, steps down which destroy your knees and stones which, when dislodged, then follow you down and attack you round the ankles!

We reached the "shoulder" just below the summit after about 2 hours of gruelling slog.  This was the point where the year before we had emerged after a hideous almost vertical climb from the eastern side of the mountain, having taken a wrong path and ascended next to the waterfall (apparently we are not the only ones to have made this mistake). I collapsed with exhaustion and had to refuel quickly on my mars bar and lucozade.  Having learnt from bitter experience that it's best to wait before eating lunch until the main climb is over, I limited myself to the mars bar and then felt ready to continue to the top.

The route to the summit of Mullach nan Coirean (939m/3080ft) was more ridge-like than expected.   The narrow, rocky path took us up on to the summit where the views all around were stunning.

north ridge 001.jpg


We then headed east towards Stob Bàn ("White Peak" - 999m/3277ft).  We descended from Mullach nan Coirean on to a broad grassy area until crossing over a rocky ridge (there is a path below, but I didn't know this at the time, so I did it the hard way!).  Just as I was negotiating my way across the rocks, a stray shower from a band of showers which had been tracking across our route arrived, accompanied by a gusting wind.  Fortunately the gusting wind was blowing me into the rocks on the left and not towards the void on the right!  By this time we had encountered a few people coming across from Stob Bàn and heading in the opposite direction to us and we stopped for a brief chat.

We continued on towards Stob Bàn and eventually came to a small white peak which was not marked on our map - so we named it there and then "the little white peak with no name".  The reason for its shining whiteness was because the rocks were almost entirely made of quartzite - a beautiful, white shiny crystalline rock metamorphosed from quartz which was subject to intense heat and pressure when the mountain range formed.  The rock here was very marble-like.  From here we proceeded to Stob Bàn, which in my view is one of the most elegant mountain peaks in the area.  "Elegant", however, is not the word I would use for the climb and I can only describe my experience in approaching the summit from this side as trying to scale a rubble pile!  Even more comical was trying to slide down again as we decided to retrace our steps back the way we came.... or so we intended.

We actually took the decision to deviate on the way back (not my idea, I might add) and rather than go all the way back to Mullach nan Coirean we took a short cut down the mountain.  Short cuts can be good, but this route was untried and untested by us (although it is a walkers' route) which in mountains means "could spell trouble".  Suffice it to say, I personally will not be keen to do that craggy route again!  It was the north ridge.

north ridge 002.jpg
Looking down the north ridge - with mighty, enshrouded Ben Nevis as backdrop


The first part of the descent was fine. Then, having said I would not cross a ridge with a steep drop on both sides, I found I didn't have a choice and I did manage a short one by not looking down.  The next part consisted of a narrow ridge which passed along a rocky wall - so only a drop on one side...it was at this point that my phone rang!

north ridge 003.jpg


Proudly emerging from the narrow ridge unscathed (and having taken my phone call) we were then presented with a rock scramble down a very craggy stretch.  There was a path below, but this was right on the edge of the cliffs and by the time I spotted it I couldn't get down to it anyway.  The scramble went well until the very last bit when my short legs let me down and I was left dangling on a rock, unable to reach the rock below and unable to jump because if I got it wrong I would have made the descent in record time!
After trying various manoeuvres, having snagged my trousers and  lost all sense of dignity in the process I managed to wedge myself into a crevice on the way down which just gave me the stretch needed to reach the rock.

We finally reached the end of our trek after a 6 hour round trip.   A fine hike, but it ended, sadly, in a massive bog just before we managed to reach the car - by that time, my trousers were hanging round my legs by threads.  Needless to say, having reached the end of their days, the trousers were assigned to the dustbin back at the campsite.
The Wanderer
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Re: Mullach Nan Coirean to Stob Ban with descent via North Ridge

Postby rockhopper » Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:33 pm

Nice trip there wanderer and its good to see some green again :D

The Wanderer wrote:The next part consisted of a narrow ridge which passed along a rocky wall - so only a drop on one side...it was at this point that my phone rang!

The Wanderer wrote:After trying various manoeuvres, having snagged my trousers and  lost all sense of dignity in the process I managed to wedge myself into a crevice on the way down which just gave me the stretch needed to reach the rock.
:lol: Looks like you had a very "varied" day with some scary bits 8) These phones do seem to go off at the wrong time...although mine never seems to work :lol:
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Re: Mullach Nan Coirean to Stob Ban with descent via North Ridge

Postby malky_c » Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:35 pm

Nice first report 8)

I'm surprised you didn't opt to follow the ridge east from Stob Ban then drop down the corrie to the east of your descent ridge. There's a good path there and it's the normal route up. Having said that, I've always fancied the north ridge as a route, but haven't done it. Nice to see a photo :)
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Re: Mullach Nan Coirean to Stob Ban with descent via North Ridge

Postby kinley » Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:48 pm

Interesting 8)

Had my eye on that N ridge for a while - might try it in ascent first though :lol:

Nice debut :D
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Re: Mullach Nan Coirean to Stob Ban with descent via North Ridge

Postby Paul Webster » Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:41 am

Great first report... That north ridge looks excellent, a wonder it isn't more popular
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Re: Mullach Nan Coirean to Stob Ban with descent via North Ridge

Postby Merry-walker » Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:10 am

After taking a double take, thinking 'where is this land where the snow don't fall?' I checked the 'date walked' :lol: :lol: :lol:

Very nice report, cracking pictures :D :D
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Re: Mullach Nan Coirean to Stob Ban with descent via North Ridge

Postby The Wanderer » Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:35 pm

Thanks for all your comments, guys! I am a bit slow at getting my diaries written, hence the green landscape. Mind you, not quite as slow as my ascents - unfortunately I live on the south coast so I don't get to go walking in the Highlands enough - so I'll never make a great mountain walker, but it's still good to find things I can actually do. I did the east ridge last year, going up the Allt Coire a Mhusgain then over the east ridge to Stob Ban - didn't snag my trousers that time! :lol: Must write that one up.
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