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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.

An arctic Ben Vane in snow and sun

An arctic Ben Vane in snow and sun


Postby Alteknacker » Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:36 am

Munros included on this walk: Ben Vane

Date walked: 16/12/2017

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 11 km

Ascent: 977m

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After the late return from my Lock Earn round, it wasn't until 01.30 that I got my tent pitched. There was something of a nip in the air, but the piping of the waders on the loch shore was sublime.

http://sounds.bl.uk/Environment/British-wildlife-recordings/022M-W1CDR0001422-1800V0#_

When I come to pack up the tent the following morning at 06.00, it is frozen stiff like a board! Yes - definitely a nip in the air!

Arriving at the Inveruglas car park, I am saddened by this tragic sight...

Image

... but pulling myself together, I get dressed and kitted up, and am off by 7.30. It's still very dark. And extremely icy: I nearly go a over t on the pavement more than once.

I've chosen to go for more or less the standard route, a there-and-back walk starting and finishing with the dam access road. Not very inspired, but at this point I'm hoping to have enough time to get up Ben Lomond in the afternoon.


our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



As soon as I step on to the dam access road I'm mightily glad that I haven't followed my initial idea of cycling up the track, for the road surface is like a skating rink - one solid sheet of ice! After a couple of near bum plants, I do the sensible thing and put on my crampons; after which progress is reasonably quick, and more to the point, safe. A little later I notice from tracks on the road that others have had recourse to the same crampon-spike-bluntening strategy!

Image20171216_082142. As it gets lighter, Ben Vane begins to show more clearly (RHS); on the left is what I take to be A'Chrois

Image20171216_085741. I imagine that the standard path may well not be easily identified under the fairly thick snow cover, so I just cut up right just after the 230m hump. As I look back, Ben Lomond is showing off in the dawn sun - wonderful!

Image20171216_090243. Ahead, the ascent to Ben Vane looks like something and nothing, right???? :roll: (hint of a snow rainbow to the LHS...)

Image20171216_090253. While behind, Ben Lomond continues to show off.

Image20171216_092742. So far the going has been quite reasonable: snow not too deep, and in the last day or two, someone has obviously had similar route ideas to myself, so I start to follow his (from the boot size it has to have been a he :D ) footsteps.

Image20171216_092803. Looking north east, Ben Vorlich also looks like it would be a lot of fun.

Image20171216_100300. The ascent continues to be reasonably straightforward, the snow not yet too deep or variable, though there are beginning to be some (short) "wading" stretches. But from about this point on it gets more difficult, partly because I start to go for short scrambles where it looks reasonably practicable to do so - exhilarating, but I'm really feeling the effects of yesterday's long session!

Image20171216_104356. This pic is taken looking back in the same direction as before, but at about 650m elevation. It's clear that the areas of deeper snow are more extensive.

Image20171216_111051. And the upper section of this hill is very rough and gruff indeed - this pic gives some idea of what it's like: either broken rock, or quite deep drifts. Picking a way through is quite hard work :) . Moreover, this is the east end of the top, and once I surmount this lot, I discover there's still a goodly way to go to the true summit, with a fair deal of up and down and winding about involved.

Image This Google Earth screen shot gives an idea of the rough up-and-downy profile of the top section on the approach to the summit.

I'm about half way along this upper bit when I nearly jump out of my skin, as I hear voices, quite loud, coming from behind the rock ahead of me. I've just got very used to being alone, and - quite irrationally, given that it's Saturday and the weather is fine - I'd settled into a comfortable "isolated on the hill" state of mind, hence the shock. :oops:

It's a couple, heading strongly for the summit, so I slip in behind them, making good use of their trail-making :D.

Image20171216_115222. And in 20 minutes or so, am on the summit; where the spectacle is fine indeed, but it's windy and very chilly. The couple and I exchange a few words, and quickly agree it's too cold to hang about.

Image20171216_115241. Looks very bleak!

Image20171216_115351. Looking back from the eastern cairn towards the western cairn: white white white.

Image20171216_123406. The descent is as quick and easy as the ascent was long and strenuous. I continue to follow in the wake of the couple, and the route they take criss-crosses by ascent route from time to time, but is generally much more straightforward.

As we get to the lower reaches we pass more and more people on the way up. It was definitely good to get started early today!

Image20171216_123413. The snow is pretty soft and not ideal for glissading, but still we get some quite acceptable bum-slides on the way down. Fun fun fun :D .

Image20171216_123903. Waiting for the couple to clear below...

Image20171216_130114. I hit the track about an hour later. The earlier rather arctic-like light has darkened still further, as I turn to bid the hill farewell before heading back along the track. This is a very fine hill in winter conditions, to be highly recommended.

The 45 minute return walk is enlivened when I catch up with a guy who's also just been up Ben Vane - he must have taken a different line, as I didn't see him at all on the hill - and we engage in the usual highly varied and thoroughly entertaining conversation that hill-walkers usually have (hills, past walks, mountains, munros ....) until we're back at the car park.

I have learned something from yesterday's long return in the dark :D , and realise it's too late to go for Ben Lomond today. So I head back south, still very satisfied that I've been able to take full advantage of the superb winter conditions, and pausing only to make a pit stop at the wonderful Arrochar cafe for a couple of bacon and egg rolls and mugs of tea.
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Alteknacker
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Re: An arctic Ben Vane in snow and sun

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:59 pm

Beautiful dawn photos! And even evidence of learning, I'm impressed :lol:

Mighty impressed with your epic Friday perseverance nonetheless. I'd learnt from my wading up Ben Lui on the Friday that that was quite enough wading for me, and went for some culture 'n' history at Kilmartin on Saturday. <wimpicon>
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Re: An arctic Ben Vane in snow and sun

Postby tombombadilio » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:23 pm

First impression: 'quite a modest little jaunt this, uncharacteristic of Alteknacker' . Further reading has shed light on things :lol:

Cracking set of photos and descriptions for your last two treks. And very educational, as a comparative study.

Currently trying to plan a few winter walks over the festive period and was getting a bit carried away with what I could squeeze out of 7-8hrs of daylight. So I'm taking your recent experiences as a salutary reminder to aim a bit lower when conditions are like that (thought the bulk of the snow seems to have evaporated now).
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Re: An arctic Ben Vane in snow and sun

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:36 pm

EmmaKTunskeen wrote:Beautiful dawn photos! And even evidence of learning, I'm impressed :lol:

Mighty impressed with your epic Friday perseverance nonetheless. I'd learnt from my wading up Ben Lui on the Friday that that was quite enough wading for me, and went for some culture 'n' history at Kilmartin on Saturday. <wimpicon>


Thanks Emma. Not sure really about the learning... :roll:
Ben Lui is a fine beast - had one of my best winter days ever on it!
Good to learn that you have an interest in culture and history... (PS the link isn't there....)

ATB for 2018

tombombadilio wrote:First impression: 'quite a modest little jaunt this, uncharacteristic of Alteknacker' . Further reading has shed light on things :lol:

Cracking set of photos and descriptions for your last two treks. And very educational, as a comparative study.

Currently trying to plan a few winter walks over the festive period and was getting a bit carried away with what I could squeeze out of 7-8hrs of daylight. So I'm taking your recent experiences as a salutary reminder to aim a bit lower when conditions are like that (thought the bulk of the snow seems to have evaporated now).


Modest it appeared on paper, but I've never been more shattered after a day in the hills (and that includes the Mullardoch round)!

Like you I'm also planning some routes, but trying to be a bit more realistic... (although having just read about Fi and Scoob's exploits on Christmas Day, I'm wondering if I'm not being a bit too timid...).

My last look at Highlands webcams indicated a welcome reappearance of the white stuff...
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Re: An arctic Ben Vane in snow and sun

Postby dav2930 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:28 pm

Makes a reassuring change to see you doing a nice, ordinary, single Munro! :lol:
Quite a steep and rocky one though and entertaining enough in the snowy conditions. Fantastic views and photos to prove it. :clap:
Those crampons of yours look identical to a pair I have for my B1 boots! :)
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Re: An arctic Ben Vane in snow and sun

Postby Alteknacker » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:44 pm

dav2930 wrote:Makes a reassuring change to see you doing a nice, ordinary, single Munro! :lol:
Quite a steep and rocky one though and entertaining enough in the snowy conditions. Fantastic views and photos to prove it. :clap:
Those crampons of yours look identical to a pair I have for my B1 boots! :)


Yes, I did have slightly wider ambitions for the day, but Ben Vane took too long, and I was still pretty tired from the previous day. Thanks for the kind comments ref the pics - as usual, the mountains have to take the credit.

My crampons are Camp something-or-others (I don't think they still do the model I have).
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Re: An arctic Ben Vane in snow and sun

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:35 am

BV looks like a great winter route :D This is one of our sixty-odd Munros still on to-do list... Time to head south and explore the Arrochar Alps! We have a couple of weeks of hols in March/April, should still be winter conditions higher up.

Last winter was rubbish, this year looks much better already. So much fresh snow one can swim in it. We went up Wee Wyvis on NY Day and it took us over 3 hrs to reach the summit (Naismith is 2:10). Knee deep snow everywhere and we had to break fresh trail all the way. We were knackered when we reached the summit. At least all mince pies got burned off :lol:
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