Lost the path on Stob Dearg (Buachaille Etive Mòr) Aug 2021

Route: Buachaille Etive Mòr

Munros: Stob Dearg (Buachaille Etive Mòr), Stob na Bròige (Buachaille Etive Mòr)

Date walked: 18/08/2021

Time taken: 5 hours

Ascent: 1021m

thumbnail glen coe 21.jpg

After climbing the Pap of Glen Coe the previous day and camping overnight in Glen Etive, I got up reasonably early and got myself ready for the main goal of my trip - to climb Stob Dearg on Buachaille Etive Mòr. I had been on this range last year but I ran out of time to bag this munro after climbing all the other peaks on the ridge. So it was unfinished business!

I left just after 9am and headed up the main path passing the Mountaineering hut at the base of the hill and having quick a nosey around it to see what it was like. I continued up the path towards the daunting looking coire which lay ahead of me. A path came and went here and there, sometimes well defined and at other times simply a dried river bed. At one point, maybe a third of the way up the path descended down maybe fifteen feet back towards the river/scree bed. I stood and considered this for a while, I wasn't keen to lose any height at all but the path definitely went that way, to my right there were some quite high ledges which would have to be scrambled over as an alternative to the scree to the left. I took the path downwards expecting the it to re-emerge at some point a little further on - but it never did. I made the wrong choice. I should have clambered over the ledges, as the path continued that way, well defined and relatively easy, like a stone staircase zig zagging it's way upwards.

However, I was now effectively bouldering my way up the direct route through unstable rocks and scree. I loved it, I love this kind of walking where you have to make decisions on every step. After a good half an hour of this I started to wonder if I had lost the path though, it seemed a bit extreme for one of Scotland's most popular hills. There was no-one else nearby to help me gauge if I was off course, only a couple with a dog about an hour behind me in the valley. I saw a couple of signs of human activity in the river bed that semi-convinced me this must still be part of the route, like a sweety wrapper and a plastic bottle.

However, I soon knew I must be off piste when things started to get very steep and unstable. The scree was becoming very loose and I was drifting backwards with every step. I made a bee-line out of the scree to the right in search of the path. I found one, but it turned out not to be the main one and I was soon on unstable ground again in the scree and heading into ever more dodgy territory. I went directly up the chute of the Coire as far as I could hoping I'd eventually reach the bealach but eventually I had to turn back. I got to a point where I could scramble and climb no further. It felt too dangerous, footholds were precarious and rocks were crumbling away from the hill in my hands and I just knew the chances of a tumble were getting too high.

I took the wise decision to backtrack and head back towards the right again. By this point the couple which were far behind me were level with me, further to my right and obviously on the main path - and highlighting how much slower I'd been going through this shrapnel. I headed over to the area they were in and found the path which safely but steeply took me up the lat 50 metres of the Coire. I was pretty happy to get to the ridge, it took me 2 hours 20 minutes to get that far due to scrambling about in boulders!

The next section was a breeze in comparison and I had a bit of a spring in my step and a sense of relief as I headed up towards the summit which I reached in around half an hour. The views from the top are superb, white wispy cloud added to the atmosphere. It was almost wind free and I sat for about 15 minutes just feasting my eyes on the views across Rannoch Moor as I gave the legs a bit of a rest.

I decided to come back down the way I came rather than the longer loop route which involves traversing another top. The first section of the Coire is steep and care is needed. However after that the path is good albeit relentless on the knees. Eventually I was back at the car about 2pm. It had been a great day out, probably my favourite munro of the fifty I have climbed so far. Losing the path certainly added to the excitement but I wouldn't recommend it (especially in adverse conditions) so take care to make sure you follow it if you want a stress free day out!

I made a short video of the walk. The camera stayed firmly in my pocket during the scarier sections of the scramble though!

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Glas Maol circuit on a sunny but windy post lockdown day!

Attachment(s) Munros: Cairn of Claise, Càrn an Tuirc, Creag Leacach, Glas Maol
Date walked: 12/07/2020
Distance: 22km
Views: 937

Stob na Broige from Glen Etive - Mountain said no

Attachment(s) Munros: Stob na Bròige (Buachaille Etive Mòr)
Date walked: 11/07/2020
Views: 984


Activity: Walker
Mountain: Carnethy
Place: Millport
Gear: Backpack

Munros: 61
Corbetts: 2
Fionas: 2
Donalds: 2
Sub 2000: 6
Islands: 19
Long Distance routes: Affric Kintail Way   

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Trips: 1
Ascent: 1021m
Munros: 2


Trips: 2
Distance: 22 km
Munros: 5

Joined: Sep 15, 2012
Last visited: Dec 08, 2023
Total posts: 3 | Search posts