Saturday, 13 October 2012
Maintaining Mountain Fitness (6)
At the planning stage I had realised that I might be a bit tight for daylight (I would ideally have liked to set out a bit sooner than 10 ... but I've had some pretty hectic weeks just recently, and I also needed to catch up on some sleep. So I didn't set the alarm, and just woke up when I woke up!). My route, therefore, was to take the Glen Loin path to Coiregrogain and start with Ben Vane, then descend by way of Lag Uaine, cross the stream, ascend to the Glas Bhealach, and ascend Beinn Ime. I would then descend to the Bealach a'Mhaim and take a view on whether it was practical to take in Beinn Narnain as well. If it were then all fine and dandy; but if not, then I would descend by the Cobbler path, which promised to be a reasonably safe way out of the mountains even in seriously failing light.
The South East ridge of Ben Vane is a lovely ascent, although it does have a couple of tricksy little scramble bits to do in the upper reaches. The views back towards Ben Lomond are pretty much the same as those I had enjoyed on the way up Ben Vorlich. I had picked up a couple of walking companions, and they thought the views pretty stunning.
We reached the summit at about 1.30 and had lunch, and one of my walking companions took this picture of me at the cairn with Ben Lomond and Loch Lomond in the background. My companions then agonised about whether or not to join me for the other two Munros, reluctantly concluding that they really could not afford to do so as they had to be back in Glasgow that evening. So after lunch they turned back, while I pressed on.
The descent to the valley floor required careful reading of the ground, and as I descended I studied the slopes leading back up to the Glas-Bhealach in order to choose the safest looking ascent. Once at the bealach I quickly found a path linking Beinn Chorranach to Beinn Ime, and this soon saw me safe at the summit of the highest of the Arrochar Alps. And the views were ... well, quite something! I could see clear to the Paps of Jura. I could see the Sleeping Warrior on Arran. I could see the Mull of Kintyre and Paddy's Milestone. Or I could look down along Glen Kinglass and across Loch Fyne to Inveraray. Or I could look down on the Firth of Clyde, and see the wake of the Rothesay Ferry as it butted its way through.
But I could also see that a vast blanket of nimbo stratus cloud was closing in, and its base was falling, so I needed to press on. Down at the Bealach a'Mhaim I considered my options. I didn't, to be frank, think there were enough hours of daylight remaining to attempt Beinn Narnain. I didn't think the weather was in favour of the attempt, either, with a serious risk of being enveloped in cloud on steep ground in failing light ... not a good option! And, in any event, I had had two hard days on the hills and wasn't really sure that my stamina would hold up. Better to cut and run, I thought. Leave Narnain for another time. And so I returned to Arrochar and enjoyed a very nice meal at Ben Arthur's Bothy, to round off a delightful wweekend in Scotland.
I doubt I shall get back to Scotland in 2012. But all in all it has been a good year for me. Despite having to cut out all of my mountains from my 2012 Challenge, I have "bagged" 15 Munros this year (and made a re-ascent of Schiehallion, too) - thereby doubling my tally to 30. And I am feeling in much better shape, in terms of mountain fitness, heading into winter than I ever have before. The odd winter walk or two would certainly be in order; but if I can maybe get back to Scotland in April to pick up Ben Lomond and Beinn Narnain, I should be in pretty good shape for the start of the 2013 Challenge (always assuming, of course, that I am successful in the draw for places ... )