North Buttress Stob Ban

Munros: Stob Ban (Mamores)

Date walked: 15/07/2019

Distance: 10km

Ascent: 973m

Our itinerary for the day was not excessive, a grade three scramble up the north buttress of Stob Ban, continue on to the summit before descending into Coire a’Mhusgain and back to The Lower Falls.
The Route

Less than 10km and only 972m of ascent, we never expected it turn into an exhausting 15hr epic!
Our day started innocently enough, with a near empty car park at Glen Nevis lower falls despite it being a sunny July day, but although it was not yet 08:00hr it was already hot. As soon as the path showed signs of an incline I was taking the concept of slow walking to appreciate the environment to a new low as I stopped to admire another blade of grass. As long as we didn't flake out before reaching the north buttress we would be ok as it would be cooler once we started climbing.
A hot day in Glen Nevis

Initially we followed the main path towards Choire a' Mhusgain then, before, reaching the zig zags we turned left onto a lower path that stayed close to the burn. From here the three buttresses on Stob Ban were clearly visible and the eye is immediately drawn to the impressive face and triangular peak of the central buttress, we were slightly disappointed when we realised this was not our objective and that we were going for the little one on the end. :lol:
Stob Ban Buttresses

View along the gorge

We were aiming for a point at the top of the gully where we could safely cross the Allt Coire a’ Mhusgain. The path was pleasantly shady, with steep drops down to the gully with one short scramble, on a greasy rocky wall.
The lower path

At the burn we stopped for a drink and a mars bar, our last refreshment for many hours and the most substantial meal we would have all day. There were plenty of boulders in the water making the crossing easier than anticipated. On the other side, exposed to the full glare of the sun, we slogged up the steep grass
Slogging up steep grass


grateful to reach a levelling in the slope. More steep grass and scree in a shady shallow gully before we finally reached the start of the scramble at 11:10.
The Base of the North Buttress

One of the hardest parts of any scramble often seems to be getting established on the rock and this was no different. The lower buttress felt very exposed so we roped up, knowing we could always coil it up later if there was easier ground.
After the the first moves on the rock the lower buttress consisted of tenuous feeling greenery over rock and followed by some delicate moves onto an arete.
The Lower Buttress

The scrambling on the main buttress was mainly on good rock and one of the early highlights was a scenic traverse.
The Traverse

Traverse from the other end

At the end of the traverse is the crux chimney, just visible behind a huge a boulder in the previous photo.
This is avoidable by either of the gully's on the face. We decided to take the gully right next to it, this started of very steeply with overlapping flakes but eased closer to the top.
Top of the gully

The route was varied and interesting but with only short sections of easier ground there was no natural point at which to untie from the rope as any easier scrambling was interspersed with short steep sections or exposed moves.
So we pitched all 300m with our 25m rope. :roll: .
Despite this holding us up considerably it did not detract from the pleasure of the day and given the long daylight hours there was no real danger of being benighted.
Easier scrambling ending on steeper rock

Enjoying the view

Some of the days best moments took place out of view of a camera including a memorable squeeze between the rock face and a large boulder which required plenty of wriggling to get through complete with rucksack :lol:
Leading into the squeeze

Two short knife edge aretes with a steeper section of climbing between them made a superb end to the scramble.
The first arete

Between the aretes

2nd arete

Looking down at the arete

After Eight hours of scrambling, :roll: at 19:00 we were untying from the rope, and scrabbling up steep grass to reach the main path. The only sensible descent route was to follow the main ridge around to Stob Ban and take the path down into Coire Mhusgain. The good news was that we still had 3 to 4 hours of day light left and it always nice to finish on a summit.
Ben Nevis from the main ridge

The Red Ridge to Mullach na Coirean

20:00 Stob Ban summit

Finally starting the descent

22:15 and a final look back at the north buttress

A harder and more sustained grade 3 scramble than many we have encountered and an epic outing. :D

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