Buachaille Etive Mor – North Buttress

Buachaille Etive Mor presents a famous face that’s graced many a postcard and calendar (and these days no doubt a million text messages and twitpics!) and it’s one that’s familiar to many. Climbers and hillwalkers also know that this iconic image is interlaced with scrambles and climbs of all grades to test themselves on. A Saturday morning in August found Robert and I following the well trodden pilgrimage to the ‘big buckle’.

Our target this time would be the North Buttress which provides a climb of a surprisingly easy grade up the (you’ve guessed it) North Buttress. Chased on our way by the hoards of hungry midges that descended on us as soon as we stepped foot outside the car and with the forecast of torrential rain for the afternoon we hurried up the path past the Lagangarbh hut. The obvious landmark of the 2 boulders sitting on the skyline provides the cue to cut off the main path and head on up towards the buttress.

North Buttress from the "2 Bloulders"

North Buttress from the "2 Bloulders"

We scrambled up through the heathery rocks and boulders to the base of the route pausing only for me to start a volley of rocks down towards Robert (sorry!). As usual we ended up going the wrong way but a little traverse back across from Crowberry Gully found the base of the route which, truth be told, is very obvious. In our defence the pair ahead of us went even further the wrong way and only reappeared back at the base of the route long after we’d headed up.

According to the guidebook the route follows a chimney-crack up aways before heading out right and then meandering it’s way up before finishing fairly close to the summit. We stuck to the crack the whole way up which might have made it a little bit harder especially when the drizzle started as we neared the top. Even allowing for the rain it was still straightforward and very pleasant climbing. Mind you, Robert got to lead all the tricky bits so he might have a different viewpoint!

don’t see the point in boring you with lots of details on the route so here’s some pics to give you a flavour.

 

Robert leading the first pitch

Robert leading the first pitch

My view of Robert on one of the pitches

My view of Robert on one of the pitches

.....and his view of me!

.....and his view of me!

This is very typical of most of the route (climber not included!)

This is very typical of most of the route (climber not included!)

We finished off with a little scramble to the summit and wandered back down the path through Coire na Tulaich as the forecast rain came in. As we drove back through the torrential rain the merits of the 5:45am start from West Lothian were obvious and thanks were given to the accuracy of the weather forecast!

A grand day out and proof that there are nice mountaineering routes out there that are well within the reach of hillwalkers/mountaineers of modest technical abilities like ourselves. And now that we know the route the next challenge will be to get back and do it in winter ;)

My last point, it just goes to show that WLMC isn’t all about the organised day trips and weekends. Without the club I wouldn’t have found folks with similar aspirations to mine and got to enjoy days like this. If you fancy doing something (whatever it might be) get a note out to the other members and I’m sure you’ll find willing partners-in-crime.