Ben Vane – 30th April 2016
I picked Ciaran up from Glasgow airport at 12.30. His flight had been delayed. He and I had been keeping a daily watch on the weather forecast over the previous week or so. Our get together had been planned a long time before that and it looked as though a period of settled and sunny weather was coming to an end.
The forecasts now suggested that today was going to be the only decent day that week weather-wise. C’est la vie. With Scotland you do take pot luck when organising trips far in advance.
I had left home just after 8am and on the way had been calculating the timings for possible climbs. But I had received a text from Ciaran en route advising of the hiccup. The flight delay was making things a little more complicated. Ben Lomond, as an iconic mountain, was an obvious possibility. But it was a little out of the way because we were to make our way to Spean Bridge that evening as Caroline had kindly offered to put us up.
An objective in the Arrochar Alps was perhaps more realistic and I decided that I would suggest this to Ciaran, if he was up to being dragged up something. Ben Vane was an apt choice in the circumstances.
Ciaran and I had first met in February 2014 on our Kilimanjaro trip and had kept in touch since. We had seen each other once more when he treated me to lunch at Dublin airport when I went to Dublin to obtain my Iran visa last year. He had expressed an interest in exploring the Cuillin ridge on Skye. I was up for that though, as is happened, the weather would prevent us from satisfying this wish on this occasion.
We pulled into the car park at Inveruglas, quickly prepared ourselves and were off by 2pm. Ben Lomond stood capped in white across the loch.
We quickly passed by the power station to the hydro road entrance. Squeezing through the pedestrian gate required us to remove our rucksacks. And off we went up the road. Two kilometres to the turn off to the left. We could see a couple of figures ahead making their way up the path. Further up, Ben Vane was also capped with snow. Indeed, for the time of year, there was quite a lot of snow above 800m.
The first stages of the path were wet. But we gained height speedily and slowly hauled in the couple in front. Shortly before we hit the snow line, we stopped for a drink and a rest. I led the way on. The snow was slushy and sometimes sheared off the grass underneath. Care had to be taken on the steeper parts. We passed a few groups coming down. The air was chilly but the sun warming when out of the cool breeze.
Gradually we made our way up through the craglets. A’Chrois reared up to our left.
Ben Vorlich was there to our right.
Just before the top there is a short band of rocks. I took on a direct scramble. Ciaran went on the by-pass route to the left which itself has a short scramble up a chimney. Soon we were on the small summit plateau. We got there just before a group of four chaps.
This was a third ascent for me and the second with snow on the ground. The previous time was a raw February day when the snow was hard. But it was an equally blue sky. As with the previous time, the views were stunning. Here are Ben Lomond and Ben Vorlich.
I congratulated Ciaran on his first Munro. He said he had enjoyed the experience and I think I believed him! We wandered across to the (slightly lower) cairn on the far side of the plateau. We could not stay for long. Time was marching on and we had another 1½ hours of driving. One sustained snow shower caught us on the way down as we followed the route we had taken up. We were back at the car at 7pm, for a 5 hour round trip.