An arctic Ben Vane in snow and sun

Munros: Ben Vane

Date walked: 16/12/2017

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 11km

Ascent: 977m

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.


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...


... 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.

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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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Comments: 6

Sun and snow: a Loch Earn round + some timely reminders!

Attachment(s) Munros: Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn), Stuc a'Chroin
Corbetts: Beinn Each, Meall na Fearna
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Distance: 24.5km
Ascent: 2339m
Comments: 14
Views: 903

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Comments: 11
Views: 336

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This post is not published on the Walkhighlands forum
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Views: 44

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Ascent: 2036m
Comments: 6
Views: 356

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Views: 404

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Attachment(s) Hewitts: Creigiau Gleision, Creigiau Gleision North Top, Pen Llithrig y Wrach, Pen yr Helgi Du
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Attachment(s) Munros: Aonach Beag (Alder), Beinn a'Chlachair, Beinn Bheoil, Beinn Eibhinn, Ben Alder, Carn Dearg (Loch Pattack), Creag Pitridh, Geal Charn, Geal-charn (Alder)
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Comments: 31
Views: 1933


User avatar
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)
Activity: Scrambler
Pub: The Bell, Trysull
Mountain: Cuillin Ridge
Place: Glen Brittle
Gear: Compass
Member: None
Ideal day out: Heavy ridge walk with plenty of scrambling and height gain - eg Welsh 3000ers, Wastwater Circuit, Cuillin Ridge
Munro rounds: 50

Munros: 141
Corbetts: 19
Wainwrights: 46
Hewitts: 149

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Joined: May 25, 2013
Last visited: Jan 23, 2018
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