Ben Vorlich - 943m
Tuesday 8th April 2008
Weather/Conditions: In short - overcast and a little sunny at the bottom and mid sections. A little wind higher up. Upon reaching the south top, things got a bit grim and we were blasted by a cold wind and hail - fun stuff! The ridge walk to the summit was in mist, with snow falling and with plenty on the ground. Sometimes beginning to verge on whiteout, but although the food froze it was never too cold and getting down below 2000 feet again meant overcast and temperate conditions.
Ascent to Ben Vorlich South Top
Allan and I left my house in the morning, and after only a 45 minute drive to Inveruglas we began walking at 10.15am. I'd never started from Inveruglas before, but became very familiar with it by visiting it several times in the preceding days when brother Steve and other half went camping in this area. So I felt good about beginning here and knew the way pretty well.
Allan and I followed the road only for a few hundred paces before cutting up the side of Vorlich - I wasn't that fussed about staying in the valley anyway. The route was direct and the day was fair - a bit of overcast with some sun coming through. There was snow on the higher reaches of the mountains however.
We passed beneath the pylons and crossed the road at approx. 300 feet. From there it was a nice easy route up through the crags - Allan felt otherwise. There were false summits but after last months small fiasco on A' Chrois about ongoing slogs, I was stocked up on food and energy while really making sure I had my ice axe!
So not much happened asides some lovely views opening up. I took plenty of pics as we worked our way up the side, and it didn't feel too long before we were approaching the south summit. The mountain began to flatten out and I wasn't sure where the south top was and where exactly the real summit would be. So, the GPS came out (but I had a map and compass by the way!) and I stuck in some way points which gave me an excellent idea of my position. The wind had picked up, by this point hail was blowing in our faces and the upper reaches of Vorlich snaked off into the distance and then concealed itself underneath cloud.
I felt excellent about what we were about to do, and loved the feeling of the place. As much as the sunny days are excellent I admit to loving the horrible days - maybe it gives some sort of contrast? Suppose it's the possibly atmosphere of the place.
We walked up onto the south summit (approx 1pm) where Allan found that the twenty year old boots (my dads!) I gave him were rubbing his feet. Ouch. So I gave him mine, I took his, and I'd see how we got on. It turned out that although dads boots were very loose on me, my feet did not rub at all and I felt perfectly comfortable all the way back to Inveruglas. More importantly, boots of my size were just what Allan needed and very continued onwards.
We slowly went into the cloud and snow was lying around. Then it began snowing from above, but we still pushed on, however much Allan was thinking to himself how crazy we were... It was a simple walk up through the cloud although by this point Allan just wanted to get up to the top and turn around, downwards. I forced him onwards and we kept going and going, snapping pictures on the way. We actually discovered a very deep cleft in the rock where a snow bridge had formed and then collapsed. It reminded me of pictures from glaciers and felt odd that I should be looking at something similar to what I was used to seeing pictures of. Okay, not quite a glacier, but it was the same idea.
A final walk up to the trig point at 941 metres left Allan with a sigh of relief until I walked on ahead, and back down the other side of what we had come up. To his disappointment, the summit was actually a cairn a hundred metres beyond Vorlichs trig point. A final easy walk through cloud and over snow brought us to the 943 cairn and true summit at 2pm exactly!
Wheyhey, my first new Munro of 2008, and incredibly the first since 17th October 2007. We spent some time at the summit eating and phoning home. I couldn't get it to work there, although upon leaving around 2.10pm, I phoned mum from the trig point.
The initial descent was easy and we kept going through cloud, past dark shapes looming through mist, quite impressive to me really. However we came out of cloud, and I had read on stevenfallon.co.uk that a descent was possible from near the summit to directly down to the Loch Sloy dam. So, after seeing the route, that's what we did. It was a steep descent downwards, with the dam below and massive pylons just to put into perspective how far up we were!
I enjoyed the descent more than Allan, it wasn't too hard to jump down the scree sections at the top and let them carry you down. The scree/grass (easy ground though, it's not at all like scree) turned into steep grassy slopes but it soon became apparent there were cliffs baring the way along the bottom. However, after a few minutes of searching we found a gap to get down, walked down the side of the dam and finally got back to the road at 3.30pm.
From there it was an uneventful walk back to Inveruglas. I'll give it that A' Chrois, and Ben Vane looked stunning, especially under snow and sheets of rain. Not that I cared much, because by that time it was just a case of getting back to the car as soon as possible. We finally got back at 3.20pm, 15 minutes over. It wasn't too bad though, mum sat and had a coffee while waiting on us.
We got back to Glasgow just past 4pm.