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How to discover you have Vertigo...climb Ben Lomond!

How to discover you have Vertigo...climb Ben Lomond!

Postby grumhelden » Sun Sep 06, 2015 9:16 pm

Route description: Ben Lomond

Munros included on this walk: Ben Lomond

Date walked: 05/09/2015

Time taken: 4 hours

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It's Ben Lomond...everyone has or will do it if they get the bug and go beyond flat walks and hills But not everyone will get to that last shelf and discover they have vertigo!

The climb is a lot harder than it gets credit for, for the novice at least. Its a hard slog , although there is nothing technical there are several sections that really require careful footing. I had perfect weather, temp was around 17 degrees, no real wind and perfect sunshine the whole way.

Once you get up onto the "shoulder" part, you realise exactly how high high is...you look out to the south and see Drumgoyne below you, the entire campsies lying squat like they are not even bumps...the conic looking like a wee bump , betraying the pain in your legs from the day before. I stopped for lunch on the way up, enjoying the views that swept from Stirling to Arran, and north to infinity, it seemed. I set out at 10:45 so started hitting traffic coming the other way not long after getting up and out of the forest.

The hardest part on the way up wasn't the climbing, it was the people passing alternately in the left or right based on national origin, regardless of the path and the sensible way to pass.

I had started out solo, but quickly realised no one climbs this Ben alone. Many pleasant conversations were struck on the way up as we waited for people who were coming down to clear chokepoints.

At last I came to that final push, one zig zag and a stretch along the ridge and the summit would be there. I planned to take a series of panoramic photos from the summit on account of the clear day.

Then it happened.

Unexpected. Unknown. Unbidden.

I rounded a corner, by this point the sorest muscles I had were in my face from smiling and saying hello.

I saw the Corrie, I felt a bit giddy. I quickly looked away to the west and saw the valley falling away and felt completely weak at the knees.

This was not in the plan.

Ben Lomond is supposed to be a formality. A wee fitness check. Proper Old People were doing it. A guy *ran* up past me with a Kona full bounce so he could hare it down the ptarmigan. I was passed by more runners than I see in Glasgow Green on the drive home.

This was not in the plan.

I grabbed a seat (lying to myself, I told myself it was to fix my boots and socks(they were soaked through from a swamp related mishap the previous evening)), sat for a good 15 minutes watching people go back and forth, the summit was about three minutes away and I actually started to doubt I could do it. When I looked ahead at the valley (looking down toward the Loch) I felt very spinny. I planted both feet and both hands and made sure to sit straight up and forced myself to look from Loch to horizon and back down. I scanned left and right along the horizon and eventually my brain started to adjust to the new reality it was facing.

I gingerly stood up, kept my shin pressed against the side of the path and tried to focus on the ground a few feet in front of me. The closer I got to the summit the more I doubted that I would actually make it back down.

I knew I wouldn't be taking any panoramic shots now, as when I did try and grab a picture I felt like I was spinning...my eyes and ears obviously disagreeing quite violently with each other.

I got to the wee final push before the summit and just kind of ignored everything and got up there, touched the trig and started straight back down. There was no room up there to stop anyway.

My original plan to descend via the ptarmigan was scuppered, as I couldn't get past the trig to see the start of that descent, partly due to the vertigo, mostly due to the press of traffic. I mean, I drive the m8 at rush hour each day to get to work and it seemed busier up here. And just as dangerous...lots of people in a small space with sheer drops in every direction? no ta!

And it's here that the universe stepped in and gave me a wee hand for a change.

I started back down the rocky face between the paths...two reasons, one being the paths were like the lines at McDonald's and the other being I was farthest away from either edge. It got a wee bit steeper than expected so I abandoned any dignity I had left and got down on my a**e and started crawling down....behind me I heard "Here...is this the right way?" I sensed a chance to ignore my current predicament and made a joke about "coming up on my knees and going down on my a**e"...once past the wee rocks it turned out to be two women on their way down too...we ended up chatting away to each other the whole way down, it completely allowed me to ignore the Vertigo, and I quickly found that on the way down it was already starting to recede, once past the zig zag section and on the way down to the long straight the hills had changed shape enough that I felt great again, and could start to feel good that I actually had climbed a mountain!

I'm now trying to figure out how to get over that vertigo thing.

Bad place to find out you have it though!

I had camped the night before at Sallochy bay, and again great place in and of itself, but some bad people took the shine off.

Good people made a great day perfect though.

So cheers to the two girls I descended with , I hope you enjoyed my company half as much as I enjoyed yours!
Posts: 1
Munros:1   Corbetts:1
Sub 2000:2   
Joined: Aug 20, 2015

Re: How to discover you have Vertigo...climb Ben Lomond!

Postby RocksRock » Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:54 pm

Oooooooh, horrid! :( :( :( (I discovered I am bit of a sufferer when I had to leave a drilling rig via the old crane-and-basket onto a supply boat lhlaf way off I was seized with a wild desire to jump off!!)

You mention a poor night due to some bad folk. I wonder if this might have contributed? tiredness and stress can exacerbate it apparently?

Any way, well done for hanging in there!
Posts: 224
Munros:4   Corbetts:7
Sub 2000:19   Hewitts:4
Wainwrights:26   Islands:8
Joined: Sep 6, 2012

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