Friday 26th September 2008
Weather/Conditions: It was a hazy day - there was a lot of cloud in the valleys as the sun rose, creating a very striking sunrise. When the cloud moved in, the light was flat and there was nothing to photograph. Stronger wind up top but otherwise nice day, and a chilly, start, that cold crisp air you get on winter mornings.
Sunrise and the approach to Ben Vane
This was the first time I'd climbed anything with Dink in a long time, not since November and December 07. He had since learned to drive, which made this trip very enjoyable - there was no waiting around for a lift back. We simply took his car up and it's easy as hell. Far preferable to waiting around for a lift or a train. We left the house around about 6.20am after a 5.30 get-up. When we left the house, the sky was glowing dull blue and the sun had a while to go until it was up but driving up Loch Lomond in the dark, I spotted the first golden clouds on the horizon. There was a lot of low mist about, but the sky was mainly clear and it seemed we may witness the sunrise.
When we arrived by the Inveruglas Power Station an hour after leaving, the sun was still beneath the hills, although things were brightening up. By the time we were walking along the road and onto the track to Ben Vane, we saw the sun rising. And it was an amazing one. Blankets of low cloud were lying around, creating some kind of inversion and the sun rose behind the haze. It was striking, and things were about to brighten up.
Ascent of Ben Vane
Beyond the bridge at Coiregrogain, locating the beginning of the path was easier than I'd expected. A distinct and boggy path (although not as bad as some seem to make out), we held a good pace up the hillside, Ben Vane now under soft, bright sunlight. The sunrise improved as we gained height. We stopped and started several times but headed upwards, eventually setting our sights on the sort of cave half way up. The slope was fairly steep, with good views to Ben Vorlich, Loch Sloy and A' Chrois (a more angular peak from this side) and soon enough we'd ended up at the "cave". It wasn't so much a cave but a huge overhang where we took out first long stop. With a rising sun, mist in valleys, sunlight, plenty of food to eat and on top of all that, someone to make great conversation with, I was loving it. We spent a lot of time there.
Moving on, the going was steep but the scrambling sections were good fun. Ben Vane, a rugged mountain, was my last peak in the local area but somehow I'd not climbed it, partly due to lack of access from Arrochar or by train and also for the more "desirable" mountains around about it. Now I was climbing it, I loved it. It's a fantastic hill...
As the sun moved upwards, things clouded over a bit. The scrambling became more frequent, even if the gradient began to flatten out. The day was too hazy to see much and most other mountains were capped in cloud anyhow. There were no views but it didn't bother me. It was inevitable we'd hit cloud, and soon enough, we headed into it. From the path below, the upper reaches of Ben Vane almost looked pinnacled, but above, what looked pretty dangerous didn't need approached. The going was easy even if the path was sometimes pretty steep. There were the false summits everyone had spoke of (in mist it was harder to identify them...) but with each one, we descended one hump and had a scramble up the next, each with their own hard or characteristic sections. It was all great fun, and we were soon enough at the top.
There was the cairn, the odd looking lochan beside it but also the wind. It was biting stuff, and the jumper went on. We took several middle-of-cloud pics and got shelter on the path beside the cairn. We stayed for 20 minutes but with no views, we descended. I ate the most of the food I brought along and we headed down, out of the cloud. The day was overcast now and it was a good thing we started so early.
We headed downwards and came to the boggy sections at the bottom where I managed to shatter two of my right hand fingernails against a rock, but they weren't too bad. Nowhere near as sore as on Beinn Narnain on March '08. That was sore. We got back to the track and steadily walked back to Inveruglas. It took a while, even though we were feeling a bit worn. It was just a case of following the track back to the road and walking the few hundred metres to the car. When we arrived back, the car was so nice to have. I got a cup of tea from the coffee shop as well as finishing off most of what I'd brought to eat. We headed off back to Glasgow. It was yet another brilliant day in the mountains - I've had a lot of superb days recently. Ever since (and including) Ben Donich everything's been absolutely top notch and lets hope it stays that way.
(0.00) 7.20am Inveruglas
(1.00) 8.20am Foot of hill
(3.00) 10.20am Ben Vane
(3.20) 10.40am Ben Vane (left)
(4.35) 11.55am Foot of hill
(5.20) 12.40pm Inveruglas