RoutesThis section summarises some of the most popular routes on Stob Bàn. It is not meant as a definitive guide but as a helpful pointer on what the mountain has to offer. For a more detailed description of the various routes available I recommend the following guidebooks:
Scrambles in Lochaber by Noel Williams
Ben Nevis Rock and Ice Climbs by Simon Richardson
Allt Coire a' Mhusgain (approx 5km)
The route takes the path from the Achriabhach carpark in Glen Nevis south up the Glen that runs parallel to Stob Bàn's North Ridge. The route then leaves the main path via a left hand fork at grid reference NN 152 662, which on the Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 map is just shown as a sharp bend. From here the path steeply climbs the southern flank of Stob Choire a' Mhail to a col that separates Stob Bàn in the west from Sgurr an' Iubhair in the east. From here the route follows the crest of Stob Bàn's east ridge to the summit.
Via Mullach nan Coirean (approx 7km)
The route starts at the Achriabhach carpark in Glen Nevis and takes the road a short distance west to a junction at a forestry track. From here it follows well signposted tracks and paths through the forest to a stile over a deer fence at a location near grid reference NN 132 680. The final section of forest is quite boggy so if your sinking knee deep into some very smelly mud then your probably going the right way. From the stile a path follows the deer fence up to the crest of a broad ridge, which it then follows to the summit of Mullach nan Coirean (which is a Munro so give yourself a tick there). From here the route is a very enjoyable ridge walk, occasionally stuttered by easy scrambling, which ends on the summit of Stob Bàn.
North Buttress (Grade 3)
Only one scramble is described by Noel Williams in his guidebook Scrambles in Lochaber, so it's a good thing that it's a good one! The route starts in the upper reaches of Coire a' Mhusgain (translation - Rotting Corrie), and can be reached by following the path that heads up the glen from the carpark at Achriabhach. The route begins up an ill defined series of slabs and scree slopes until one reaches the start of the buttress proper and the start of the real scrambling. The buttress is climbed in a diagonal line, starting at the lowest rocks in the centre and ending at the rop left hand corner of the crags. The final push to the routes finish involves a steep down climb which soon leads to easier ground.
Right this is going to be a short section. Owing to Stob Bàn's unique geology the mountain's rock is too broken for good rock climbing, and with the mass of easily accessible crags located just the other side of the glen at Polldubh, there really is very little to attraction in pursuing new lines. For those who are determined to technically climb the mountain in summer there are currently two options:
Winter climbing on the other hand, is a different matter altogether...
Given the right conditions Stob Bàn's North-East Face boasts a number of interesting mid-grade routes. Most of the routes described can be found in Simon Richardson's guidebook Ben Nevis Rock and Ice Climbs, so for full, well illustrated descriptions of the climbs go buy the book. However since the latest edition of the guidebook was published in 2002 a number of new routes have been added to the mountain. These are also listed here, and full descriptions can be found on the SMC's website - HERE.
Ollie 45m Grade IV, 4
The route begins up a hanging tufty ramp and then takes an awkward chimney neat the top. Beware as it is poorly protected.
Eag Blanc 100m Grade II
A sustained mostly grade I climb up a gully just to the left of the East Wing (described below).
East Wing 180m Grade V, 5
The most recent of lines to be added to Stob Bàn (FA was recorded by D.McGimpsey, A.Nisbet on the 26th February 2006), the route starts about 15m up South Gully (described below) and takes a devious but spectacular line near the crest of the very steep East Wing.
South Gully 150m Grade I
An easy and straight forward snow climb up the prominent gully at the far end of Coire a' Mhusgain.
North Groove 160m Grade III, 4
The route begins around 30m above South Gully at a prominent rocky recess. The route traverses right under a steep wall before moving to the top of the buttress via a deep groove. The route then continues up the groove to the North Ridge and onwards to the summit.
North Ridge Route 150m Grade IV, 4
The route takes the left hand line of a pair of corner lines, before continuing up the ridge which leads to the finish very near the summit.
Banjo 200m IV, 4
The route takes a natural fault in the rock located just to the right of the North Ridge Route. It then steepens and follows mixed ground up a prominent 'V' in the rock face.
North Gully 150m Grade I
An easy snow climb up the prominent gully just to the right if the Central Buttress.
Banter 200m Grade III
The route follows the crest of a buttress just to the right of the North Gully. Most difficulties are found near the beginning and the end of the climb.
No Toddy 150m Grade III, 4
This route takes the left hand gully on the Central Buttress, starting at a small snowfield on the left flank of the rockface and working its way up the gully via a quick traverse to left. The greates difficulties are found early on with a steep ice pitch.
Stertor 200m Grade IV, 4
Follows the line of a series of twisting grooves up the centre of a buttress that sites between No Toddy and Central Gully and is guarded by a band of slabs at one third height.
Central Gully 150m Grade IV, 4
Most of the route consists of grade I climbing apart from a 25m pitch near the beginning of the route. The route finishes via an easy ramp onto the crest of the ridge.
Gendarme Ridge 150m Grade IV, 4
Despite its name this ridge doesn't really have a gendarme, just something that looks like one near its foot. The route climbs the fake gendarme and continues on a gradually easing angle. The line terminates on the same ramp as Central Gully.
Triad 150m Grade III
The right hand gully is sandwiched between a narrow rock buttress on its left and Skyline Rib on its right. The route follows the line of the gully which eventually becomes a chimney which leads to Skyline Rib. From here it follows a snow ramp on its right before traversing leftwards along a narrow ledge to the crest of the buttress.
Skyline Rib 120m Grade IV, 4
The route follows the crest of the narrow buttress, and continues to the top via the same ramp as Triad (above).
Rampant 250m Grade IV, 4
Takes a line between Skyline Rib (above) and Bodice Ripper (below) on the large triangular face of the Central Buttress.
Bodice Ripper 150m Grade IV, 4
A serious but enjoyable mixed route up the prominent triangular front face of Central Buttress. Much to recommend, apparently.
Flake Chimney 150m Grade III
Begins by following the initial line of Bodice Ripper (above), and then follows a chimney to a notch behind a really big flake. Continues by traversing right across a slabby face and then up another chimney.
East Ridge 200m Grade II/III
Probably the best mountaineering route on the peak, it follows a fine arête to the mountain's summit.
Overlooked Gully 150m Grade III, 4
A long gully climb that runs between the East Ridge and Foxtrot routes. Hard for its grade.
Foxtrot 150m Grade III
A broad north facing ridge descends from the upper part of the East Ridge just to the right of a large snow-filled gully. The route begins just to the right of the ridge's foot below a narrow chimney. The route then climbs the base of the chimney and after some 20m moves out left to the crest of the ridge, which it then takes to the upper slopes of the aforementioned East Ridge.
Mountain ConditionsThe main drawback with climbing in Scotland is the unreliable weather conditions. Being close to the west coast, thaws are common and a certain skill is required in predicting when to make a trip. This colourful little box below displays the weather forecast for Fort William, which is located just to the north-west of Stob Bàn. Remember that Fort William is situated around sea level whereas the mountain's summit reaches 999 m. This means that when looking at temperature the adiabatic lapse rate must be taken into account which in Scotland is a drop in temperature of between 0.5 and 1°C per 100m in altitude. Exposure and wind speed can also significantly lower temperatures.
The eagle eyed among you will have noticed that the map below doesn't show Fort William, or much of Scotland at all for that matter. This is because the good people at AccuWeather.com appear to believe that the UK ends at Berwick Upon Tweed. If I manage to find a better map, I'll be sure to post it.
Some useful links for determining conditions are listed below:
Abacus Mountaineering - Climbing conditions
The Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) - Does exactly what it says on the tin
Mountain Weather Information Servise (MWIS) - weather forecast (just in case you hadn't guessed)
Metcheck - 7 day weather forecast
When To Climb and Essential GearThis obviously depends on whether winter or summer climbing is your thing. Winter routes on the west coast of Scotland generally come into condition in the second half of the winter. In the last three years March has been the best month however this part of Scotland is far from predictable. Despite Stob Bàn's comparitivly low altitude it can get very cold with temperatures dropping to near Arctic levels, many inexperienced walkers and climbers have been caught out in these conditions most are rescued safely by mountain rescue teams however occasionally the consequences are more serious, and every year casualties occur. During the summer it can rain a lot. Whatever time of year you need to check weather and conditions beforehand as they are erratic.
In summer always wear a solid pair of boots and carry full waterproofs. In winter conditions extra layers are essential and an ice axe must be carried and if an attempt is to be made on the harder scrambles a helmet, crampons and a rope are also all essential. For true winter routes specialist winter and ice climbing equipment is necessary and owing to the unpredictable conditions of snow and ice these lines should only be attempted by those with experience of winter techniques.
Getting ThereStob Bàn is located towards the centre of the Mamore range in the Lochaber region of western Scotland. Most people will probably choose to climb the mountain from its northern side, and in my opinion its best side. You can gain the summit from Knlochmore (NN 186 621) by way of the West Highland Way, but I'm only going to describe how to get there from the north. Basically all you have to do is get to the car park at Achriabhach in Glen Nevis (NN 145 683) which can be reached from Fort William along the unclassified road that runs the length of the glen.
Fort William is served by both bus and train services. Some information about reaching the town by public transport, as well as the public transport is available here. Trains can be booked here. If you plan to take the over-night train between Fort William and London (or on route) then make sure you have a berth reserved. As a last resort there is a seated carriage but if this is full then you won't be allowed to ride the train. Citylink operate a bus service between Glasgow and Fort William. Some of these buses also continue to the Isle of Skye. Fort William can also be reached from Oban, Kyle of Lochalsh and Inverness. One bus a day runs to Mallaig and in summer a couple also go to Kingussie and Aviemore. The town is easy to reach by car. I'm not going to list every road route here so consult Google Map or an equivalent. There is a no good or bad approach but on occasions roads close due to heavy snow fall.
Red Tape and AccessThis being Scotland, there is no red tape!
Camping and Accommodation
The CIC Hut
The hut (NN 168 722) is situated at an altitude of 680m making it the highest mountain hut in the British Isles. It's small, unmanned and books up quickly due to its perfect location beneath the north face. The hut was built in 1928 and opened on 1st April 1929. The full name of the hut is the Charles Inglis Clark Memorial Hut. Clark was a young member of the SMC who died in the First World War.
As it's located on Ben Nevis, it probably isn't the best choice for anyone looking to climb Stob Bàn, but worth a mention anyway.
The hut can be booked via the SMC website, however you'll have to reserve you place early as there is the beds are always in high demand: Link
Alex MacIntyr Memorial Hut
The Alex MacIntyr Memorial Hut (NN 044 612) is situated at North Ballachulish between Glen Coe and Fort William. The hut can accommodate sixteen people in five different bedrooms. Facilities include a well-equipped kitchen, drying room and car park. The hut is open to members of the BMC/MC of S and their families, so be aware that bookings are only accepted from clubs and individuals affiliated to either of those organisations and only one guest per member is permitted. It can be booked through the BMC website: Link.
The Glen Nevis Youth Hostel (NN 127 717) is a really convenient place to stay if you're planning to climb in the area. The hostel sits at the foot of Ben Nevis and so is in easy reach of Stob Bàn. The hostel has 88 beds, and houses everything you would need including a large kitchen/dining area, a drying room, a TV room and a small shop (which is poorly stocked in winter). If you are without a car a shuttle service runs along Glen Nevis in the summer and in the winter a one way taxi fare between the hostel and Fort William will set you back around £6 (2008).
The hostel can be booked on line from the SYHA website or by phone on 08701 553 255.
A complete directory of independent hostels in Scotland can be found here
Fort William Accommodation
As you would expect Fort William is home to a wide range of accommodation ranging from bunkhouses to hotels. An extensive list of accommodation for Fort William is listed HERE
I'm not going to list all the camp-sites in the Ben Nevis area because there are lots, so a complete list of camp sites can be found HERE.
Wild camping is a fantastic way of enjoying the Sottish countryside, and in some cases will be the only convenient way of accessing a mountain or climb. However if you are planning on wild camping, do so responisbly in a way that has a minimal affect on the environment. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides advice and guidance on how to keep impacts to a minimum - LINK
Ben Nevis and Glen Coe by Ronald Turnbull
Scrambles in Lochaber by Noel Williams
Winter Climbs Ben Nevis and Glencoe by Alan Kimber
The Munros Vol 1 Southern, Central and Western Highlands by Steve Kew
Scottish Mountaineering Club Guides and Publications
Ben Nevis Rock and Ice Climbs by Simon Richardson
Central Highlands by Peter Hodgkiss
The Munros by Donald Bennet & Rab Anderson
The Munros CD-ROM by Ken Crocket & Donald Bennet
Ben Nevis and Glen Coe (Collins Rambler's Guide) by Chris Townsend
Ben Nevis and Glen Coe: Including Fort William (Pevensey Guide) by Allan Hall
Scottish Mountaineering Club - Scotland's national mountaineering club
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland - Scotland's official mountaineering body
British Mountaineering Council - Britain's official mountaineering body
Climbers Club - British national climbing club
Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team - Information about the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team
www.mrcofs.org - Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland
Scottish Ski Club - home page of the Scottish Ski Club
Nevis Range - ski centre information for the Ben Nevis area
Visit Scotland - website for the Scottish Tourist Board
Visit Fort William - tourist information for Ben Nevis and the surrounding area
Munro Magic - informtion of the Munros
The Highland Council - local authority home page
Scottish Natural Heritage - Scotland's statutory body for the protection of landscapes
Lochaber Geopark - Geological information about Lochaber
Joint Nature Conservation Committee - Britain's statutory body for the protection of wildlife
Nevis Sport - a major outdoor shop and mountain centre in Fort William
West Coast Mountain Guides - Avalanche information, climbing conditions and weather forecasts.
Abacus Mountaineering - Climbing conditions
The Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) - Avalanche information
Winternet-Scotland - Scottish mountaineering conditions
Mountain Weather Information Servise (MWIS) - mountain weather forecast
Metcheck - 7 day weather forecast
Met Office - Weather from the Met Office
Weather Channel UK - Weather Channel weather
Lochaber Transport Forum - local public transport information
National Rail - UK Train Timetable
Showbus - bus timetables for the UK
Citylink - Scottish bus timetables
Inverness Airport - home page of Inverness airport
BAA Glasgow Airport - homepage of Glasgow airport
Glasgow Prestwick Airport - home page of Glasgow Prestwick Airport
BAA Edinburgh Airport - home page of Edinburgh Airport
Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries - ferry information and timetables for the wet of Scotland
ecossenet: Taxis - list of taxi companies operating in the Fort William area
Visit Scotland: Fort William - an extensive list of accomodation in and around Fort William
The Mountain Bothies Association - information on bothies (mountain huts) in Scotland
Scottish Youth Hostel Association - home page of the SYHA
Glen Nevis Youth Hostel - page of the Glen Nevis YHA
Scottish Independant Hostels - a directory of independant hostels in Scotland
UK Campsite.co.uk - directory of campsites in the Fort William area
Maps and Guidebooks
Ordnance Survey - Britain's national mapping agency
Harvey Map Services - an excellent selection of maps designed specifically for outdoor enthusiasts
Cicerone Guidebooks - guidebooks for people of all abilities
Climbers Club Guidebooks - guidebooks for climbers
Scottish Mountaineering Club - guidebooks and publications for and about Scottish mountains