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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

First Winter Climb - Ben Vane

First Winter Climb - Ben Vane

Postby missMHK » Sat Jan 02, 2010 6:26 pm

Route description: Ben Vane, from Inveruglas

Munros included on this walk: Ben Vane

Date walked: 02/01/2010

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Well, I'd borrowed an ice-axe from a work colleague (or office mountain guru as I call him as his advice has been invaluable. He's climbed with Brown & Haston back in the day, & traded insults with Don Whillans - how rock & roll is that!) anyway, Sat 12th Dec arrives - alarm goes off at 5:45am.. boyfriend calls me "mental" & pulls duvet back over his head. I grabbed all my gear, which had been laid out with military precision the night before & legged it for the train to Glasgow, where I was being picked up for my first winter adventure. The ticket collector asked me what I was doing (after failing to get it from the given clues), then told me that it was a weird hobby for a girl, was I going with people who knew what they were doing, and that he hoped I didn't die. Lucky for him it was zero dark hundred hours & I was too sleepy to feel wounded, so I just twirled my hair and thanked him.

Met Graham as planned then headed for the Inveruglas car park to meet Brian. Changed into the Scarpa boots that Brian's daugher was lending me, luckily they fitted like a dream, and packed the Grivel G10 crampons I was also borrowing for the day. (Leaving behind my beloved Salomon's for the first time). At this point I questioned the necessity of axe, crampons etc as looking around it was beautiful with little sign of extreme weather. I was duly told it was better to be safe than sorry and so we headed off.

It was freezing! The road towards Ben Vane was soon just an icy mist that obscured everything outside about a 15ft radius. We overshot the bridge as we couldn't see it, even though we had all climbed Ben Vane at least once before. Anyway we got back on track and headed up where eventually we came out of the mist and discovered it was a beautiful day!

Between the mist and the clouds!

As we got higher, we met a group heading down saying that it was impossible to continue to the summit without crampons & axes, they were gutted as they had left theirs in the boot of the car after deciding against it. At this point I thanked Brian & Graham, doffed my cap ain their general direction and agreed never to question them again!

We pushed on, running into a couple of other groups who had turned back & eventually stopped - to my excitement - to put our crampons on. I was very pleased with myself for getting mine on all by myself, until Brian checked & discovered I had somehow managed to put them on backwards. After fitting them properly & having a quick lesson in crampons/ice-axe useage we were good to go, and I could not keep the smile off my face.. I was enjoying myself so much. The snow was so compacted that it looked like snow but was just rock hard ice - I'd never experienced this before. We scrambled our way to the summit where there wasn't a breath of wind, and if we had brought ice skates there was a perfect ice rink!


As we set off back down the colours of the sky were fantastic, but we realised we would have to get a move on before the sun set. After managing not to fall once thus far, after taking my crampns off I ended up on my backside several times - I found it was harder to adjust to NOT wearing them! We continued our race against sunset, but it was a race we couldn't win.. I'd never been out in the sunset before so I couldn't help looking around me, we ended up coming down the last 500ft or so with our head torches, which I have to admit was also great fun. The adventure was finished off with a visit to the Drovers for a toast and a heat by the fire.


Think I now need to buy my own Scarpa boots, ice-axe and crampons. That was one of the best days of my life. A weird hobby for girls indeed...

missMHK x
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Re: First Winter Climb - Ben Vane

Postby CurlyWurly » Sat Jan 02, 2010 6:38 pm

Great report, I remember using crampons for the first time on a winter skills course and feeling like a 'proper' mountaineer!! :) And what a way to finish a walk with a drink in the Drovers. Nice one
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Re: First Winter Climb - Ben Vane

Postby HighlandSC » Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:13 pm

Well done :D Can't wait to get crampons on and an axe in my hand for the first time...hopefully soon!
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Re: First Winter Climb - Ben Vane

Postby David.Ferguson » Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:09 pm

Great report MHK,you can really sense how pleased you are with yourself. :D

well done on the Crampon use,i have mine but haven't used yet.


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Re: First Winter Climb - Ben Vane

Postby Paul Webster » Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:11 pm

Nice one - like the 2nd photo especially. Quite a steep hill for your first winter climb :D
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Re: First Winter Climb - Ben Vane

Postby mountain coward » Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:05 am

VERY steep hill for your first winter climb - I've done a few mountains in winter now but can't see my tackling something sooo steep! Can't imagine why anyone would think there was a difference between men or women having a hobby of going into the mountains though??
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Re: First Winter Climb - Ben Vane

Postby plex1981 » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:19 pm

mountain coward wrote: Can't imagine why anyone would think there was a difference between men or women having a hobby of going into the mountains though??

Even the shops think that! I had to try on the entire range of 2 women's winter boots in the outdoor shop (which is huge, I won't name any names!) and the guy said that they don't really stock women's boots as not many women are in to hillwalking!! At least my feet can be big enough for mens boots, my friend is a size 3 and really stuggles to get anything!

Just realised this I have posted this using my boyfriend's log-in, he doesn't wear women's boots don't worry!! :lol:
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