Stob Ban, Grey Corries

2 04 2011

Feb 2008
On one of my previous University Walking Club February meets at Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, I decided it was time I took myself off on my own to do Stob Ban in the Grey Corries as it was still outstanding on my list – outstanding is a pretty good description of its shape as it bursts into view from Lairig Leacach as well!

My trusty old Sunny was parked in the rear carpark of the hostel and the weather was very cold… so cold in fact that, after I’d used a couple of warm kettles to eventually defrost the windows (scraping had no effect whatsoever), I found I couldn’t get into the car anyway. I found that quite surprising as I’d managed to park up against the hostel wall which should have provided some shelter from the cold. Eventually I persuaded the passenger door to open and climbed across – the 12 miles or so drive to Spean Bridge and beyond should sort that I thought… However, as my heater isn’t very warm nowadays, I found when I got to the parking up the forest track beyond Corriechoille that the driver’s door was as jammed as ever.

I clipped my crampons on top of my bumbag, booted up, grabbed my ice axe and set off up the 5 miles or so along the Lairig Leacach. The path was icy in places but mainly okay – the windchill however was horrific from the wind funnelling down the glen!

Stob Coire Ceannan from the walk in

I was soon at the Lairig Leacach bothy where someone was just emerging to walk back to Corriechoille. We briefly exchanged greetings.

Sgurr Innse from Lairig Leacach Bothy – looks impossible from here!

Behind the bothy Stob Ban reared up spectacularly… there was a band of snow lining the edge of the peak which picked its shape out nicely, but most of it looked devoid of anything slippery.

A short while along the track after the bothy, there is a cairn and the narrow path sets off upwards on rough country towards Stob Ban (or Stobby as I call it). The climb is fairly steep up heathery humps but, due to the fact the moorland had been very wet, most of the path was shot ice. Due to the bits in between being fragile I didn’t put my crampons on however as I didn’t want to chew up the landscape even more so I just trod carefully, balancing carefully and being careful not to slip. Luckily this was fairly sheltered and so quite warm work.

When I reached the long, flat shoulder before the final very steep rise to the summit however, the wind hit again so it was all jumpers and windproofs back on!

Stob Ban peak from the long shoulder

There were a few peat hags to cross before the final rise, most of which were completely filled with hard-frozen snow and ice. Then it was the final steep climb – and boy, is it steep! The path zigzagged up loose scree – every time it went towards the edge of the very steep drop to the right, it went onto hard-frozen snow. I found it okay until near the summit when it started ‘steepling’ (going extremely steep and narrowing rapidly) – not a favourite trait for me. I then chickened out and went hard left, contouring around the steeple above gentler ground.

Soon after I was on the summit admiring the back of the main Grey Corries range all the way along to Aonach Beag and my favourite little spike of Sgurr a’ Bhuic.

Western Grey Corries & Aonach Beag

I managed to get out of the wind behind the cairn and found it was very warm sat there in the sun so stayed a while and drank most of my flask of black coffee. While I was sat lazing and admiring the view, a young lad (can’t have been more than 17) turned up to join me. I was quite surprised (and impressed) to see such a young lad with the gorm to take himself off up the Munros on his own – so many nowadays seem too lazy to stir from their computer games…

We chatted a while and then I set off back down. I didn’t bother with the route up as it had been too icy and just descended south-east down the side of the hill to the glen behind and then followed that back to the original path by the bothy… This was quite boggy in places but fairly frozen up so I didn’t get wet feet.

Then it was the long walk back down the glen and to my now happily thawed car complete with working doors!

Stob Ban from Claurigh




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