Avoiding cornices in the Glen Etive hills & climbing under azure blue skies.

Mountain landscape view of Munro Stob Ghabhar
View from track start

Many people out for the weekend taking advantage of the wonderful weather (Munros Completed : Stob a’Choire Odhair (64), Stob Ghabhar (65)).

It’s been a good winter season so far with cold easterly temperatures for much of the season and also a lot of snow. My second trip up this winter and I was able to pick a period of settled weather with high pressure sitting over the most of the country. I had recently enjoyed a good day out on the Glen Etive hills so decided to return to climb Stob a’Choire Odhair & Stob Ghabhar.
It turned out to be quite a popular area with the weather being as good as it was & also the weekend. I started the nice easy walk-in surrounded by crystal blue skies & hardly a breath of wind.

At a point not far up the track from the main track, you turn L up by the burn. This meant a slight dip down to cross another burn & here I slipped on a rock just attempting the crossing & was lucky to get away with remaining dry. I immediately then crossed to the left of the other burn rather than attempt this further up as it was an easier crossing here & made good progress up the heathery slopes. The snow was intermittent at this height but it wasn’t long before the ground was completely snow covered. After about an hour I stopped to put on crampons. The snow was in excellent condition, firm & crisp & easy to walk on. I soon gained the ridge & turned left up to the summit. The weather was so good I was still only wearing 2 base layers at this point.

 

I retraced my steps back to col, passed some skiers to whom I spoke with briefly & then approached the ridge. Here it narrows to a point called the Aonach Eagach for a length of about 30m & some careful steps are required to navigate through. It’s fine if you take your time but you certainly wouldn’t want to fall here. Halfway across I actually passed someone I had met in the car park who was coming from the opposite direction and we stopped to chat for a few minuntes. He warned me that the descent on the other side of the ridge would be steep as he had found it quite difficult on the ascent and had to traverse slightly rather than ascend through a cornice.

These turned out to be wise words and I actually couldn’t find a route off through the slightly overhanging cornices on the descent. In the end I had to detour further down to the corrie slope looking for a way of the ridge & finally spotted a possible route off without a cornice. It was steep for the first 20-30m but the angle eased off after that. It had cost me an extra 1/2 hour to find a safer route off the ridge so I found the ascent up to the 2nd Munro a bit hard going. Here there was a xixture of snow and rock, not steep, but a lot of false mounds. I eventually summitted the second Munro at 3pm, having taken me longer than I anticipated. The descent down was superb, lots of deep soft snow down to the track, eventurally returning to the car park at 4:50pm.