Lost the Place, Ben Nevis & East Ridge, Stob Ban

We’ve had a few brilliant days recently, and we’ve been out making the most of it.  Yesterday, Hannah was out on a personal climbing day with Mark. They decided to head up to Coire na Ciste and climb the neglected gem that is Lost the Place, a mixed route high on Creag Coire na Ciste. The route doesn’t really see the attention it deserves, particularly as it’s probably one of the best mixed routes of it’s grade (V,5) in the region.  The final chimney wasn’t particularly iced up, but they climbed it reporting it probably a grade harder than normal.

Heading up to Lost the Place, Ben Nevis

Heading up to Coire na Ciste

Han on Lost the Place, Ben Nevis

Han enjoying herself

Final Chimney, Lost the Place

Mark on the final chimney

Meanwhile, Steve, Rich and I had a bit of an exploratory day in Glencoe. We spent a bit of time looking at options on Far East Buttress, before making our way up to Stob Coire nan Lochan. By the time we had reached the crags, geared up and I had led the first pitch of East Face Route, time was slipping away, and coupled with not quite perfectly frozen turf, we decided to ab off.  Nice to get a steep pitch of mixed climbing in though.

Pitch 1, East Face, Stob Coire nan Lochan

Me heading off up pitch 1 of East Face

First pitch of East Face Route, Glencoe

Steve looking up at Rich climbing the first pitch

Today was another fine day, and I was back to work, this time with Colin and his son Alistair, working for my good friend Kirkhope Mountaineering. They had attempted the East Ridge of the North Buttress of Stob Ban last year, but were defeated when Alistair developed blisters on the walk-in. This time, armed with new boots, there was nothing to hold us back.  Having climbed the route a couple of days ago, little had changed, although there was a little less snow on the rocks higher up. Both Colin and Alistair rose up the the numerous challenges along the ridge, and we topped out in sunshine, with expansive views across the West Highlands.  A great day to be out!

East Ridge of the North Buttress of Stob Ban catching the sun

The East Ridge catching the morning sun

Great situations on the East Ridge

Great situations on the route

Crux of the East Ridge of the North Top of Stob Ban

Alistair and Colin on the crux

Brilliant day in the Scottish Highlands

Brilliant views to the north west

Alpine conditions on the East Ridge of the North Top of Stob Ban

Alpine conditions on the East Ridge

Final fin of the East Ridge of Stob Ban

The final fin of rock on the East Ridge

Descending the North Ridge of Stob Ban

Father and son

East Ridge of the North Buttress, Stob Ban

After sitting out a rather stormy day yesterday (amazingly a hardy team of visiting Swiss climbers managed to climb Green Gully, but reported that the ice wasn’t good for ice screws), I was back out with Joe and Kirsty for another day of coached lead climbing.  Despite the promise of snow yesterday, with the strong winds, much of it dissipated back up into the atmosphere, so the real saving grace was some overnight fresh snow, which fell down to sea level.

East Ridge Stob Ban

Stob Ban this morning

We decided to head up Glen Nevis, and make our way up to the East Ridge of the North Buttress of Stob Ban, a great, and often neglected grade II/III mountaineering route, with plenty of varied climbing and situations.  I was happy for Joe to lead the whole route, with Kirtsy following, so that’s exactly what we did.  This was the first time for either of them to climb mixed terrain, but with both of them having a solid back ground in rock climbing, they took to it like ducks to water and were soon hooking, torquing and bridging up the corners and grooves.

Kirsty on East Ridge, Stob Ban

Kirsty seconding

Couple winter climbing on the East Ridge of the North Buttress of Stob Ban

Happy couple enjoying the winter conditions

Joe enjoying the East Ridge of the North Buttress of Stob Ban

Joe also enjoying the situations

On finishing the route, after the final knife edge ridge, we made our way back down the North Ridge of Stob Ban. We saw a couple of hillwalkers, but asides from that, it was a quiet day. We were nicely sheltered from the westerly winds today.

Final ridge of the East Ridge of the North Buttress of Stob Ban

Kirtsy negotiating the final ridge

Kenny was also out, with returning client John. They climbed Scabbard Chimney on Stob Coire na Lochan, and reported good conditions for mixed climbing up there. Winter’s back!

Avoiding the worst of it: E Ridge of the N Buttress, Stob Ban

I thought that I had a bright idea of starting early this morning to then finish early, and be down before the thaw and rain hit this afternoon.  It turns out that Matt, who was out with Michael for their second day, had a brighter idea, and started shortly after us, ensuring there was a track all the way in to and along the East Ridge of the North Buttress of Stob Ban.  Work smart, not hard.

Nick had to leave us after yesterday, due to family commitments, so Keith and I set off for what we hoped would be a quick hit, before the worst of the rain and thaw hit this afternoon.  As we were first in the car park, we ended up ploughing our way, in what started off as clear and calm conditions, to the East Ridge, noting a number of avalanches that had clearly occurred recently out of the higher east facing gullies.  Fortunately, the approach to the East Ridge is relatively safe due to the lesser slope angles, lower altitude and opportunities to remain on and link ‘islands of safety’.

Having climbed a fair few harder routes, Keith flew up the route, but enjoyed the flowing nature and easier moves that the ridge presented.  On topping out, we decided to ‘bag the Munro’, so with goggles on (first time for me this year), we carefully made our way over the snowy crests and subsidiary tops, before reaching 999m.  The weather had turned by this point, with an increase in the winds and decreasing visibility, so we didn’t hang around and made a quick descent down the north ridge, closely followed by Matt and Michael.

Tim was out with Jamie, attempting Ben Nevis via the Mountain Track.  They did well to get to 1040m, but with deteriorating conditions made the right decision to leave the summit for another day.  Sometimes, the best decision in the mountains is to turnaround.

Rod and his team of mountaineers made a snowy and successful ascent of the East Ridge of Beinn A’Chaorainn, which is generally very well sheltered from strong W/SW winds.  Again, the approach is relatively safe, as a direct route to the ridge from the forestry tracks avoids any avalanche prone terrain.

Social day on East Ridge, North Buttress, Stob Ban

Nice social day on the East Ridge of the North Buttress of Stob Ban today.  I was working for and with good friend Scott Kirkhope today, between us, we had the pleasure of leading Angus, Gary, Tom and Gam.  For Tom and Gam, who I was with, it was their first winter experience, and for Angus and Gary, a chance for a nice day out, so the East Ridge of the North Buttress fitted the bill perfectly, with enough space to enjoy social belays, a mixture of varied terrain, and not another soul about.  We did see one lone walker on Sgurr a Mhaim, and that was it.

The approach did involve a fir bit of wading, particularly up to the buttress, but climbing conditions were great, with plenty of frozen turf and consolidating snow, and with next to no wind, and clear views all around, it has probably lured Tom and Gam into a false sense of security!  It’s not always quite like this, but when it is, it’s great! We topped out together, and enjoyed a snowy descent of the north ridge.

Matt was back out with Oli today, and they ventured back up to SCNL, where they climbed Scabbard Chimney.