Ben Lomond night time excursion

So there I was, the day had gone horribly wrong. I was meant to be somewhere else, but I was actually on the Southern bank of Loch Lomond trying to fix an unruly oil burner. Ben Lomond sat there with it’s white summit cone against the blue sky mocking me. Mocked I was.

Back to base for lunch, parts ordered. Sod this, I’m off. Kit organised, sack packed, flask filled, door closed behind me. I got to Rowerdennan the back of four and headed up the tourist path. With an eye on the setting sun and my mind on smashing photies of fiery clouds and the like I made good time with those skinny poles well employed. There was a crew of NTS path builders at work lower down, they’re making a good job of it too using stones foraged locally. A wee bit higher up met a few folk, one pair were very concerned at my late departure time and apparent lack of gear. They were reassured and we went our separate ways of up and down.

Bam. No sunset, just darkness as I started along Sron Aonaich. And the temperature dropped like a stone. Shell jacket on. The track here is pleasant and easily graded, the urgency had gone so I bimbled along enjoying the changes in the colours, the crunch of studded soles on ice and the chill air sucked in over the chin guard of my fleece. By the time I got to the snow line it was black, the light was gone. The snow was hard, there was a lot of ice so I swapped poles for crampons, ice axe and headtorch.

The ascent from here was a total joy. I walked in a tiny island of stark white, an apparently precipitous void of blackness on either side, but sure footed all the way. I know Ben Lomond so well, I felt secure, the trig pillar was where and when I expected. The summit was cold, really cold and I was too long in putting on my insulated gloves. The cloud came down the wind got that little bit fiercer. It was time to head down.

I realised that I didn’t know this new hill, I felt tentative, the line of descent had to be picked out. In the dark, in winter, in the cloud by headtorch, 974m suddenly doesn’t seem so lame.

But my hands thawed, I chewed on a thoroughly unnecessary High5 banana sports bar and the spring returned to my step. Morale? If ever something was an underestimated piece of essential kit.

I sat at the edge of the snowline and had a hot cuppa. I switched my headtorch off. I sat there in a navy blue and grey-out, the only visible shapes were the wee patches of snow. Peace. The cloud started to break up and the stars twinkled at me as I sipped.

I sat for a while, warm in my insulated jacket. Ben Lomond, all mine. But as nice as that was, it would have been nice to have been talking about this mini adventure today with someone that had been sitting there with me.

11 thoughts on “Ben Lomond night time excursion

  1. Yes,

    It is indeed a complete motorscooter that I was unable to join you on this night mission. That said, I would certainly not have been able to generate as wondrous a glow with my headtorch / hood combo.

  2. Indeed we should all abandon our resposibilities at the drop of a hat and venture forth.
    The economy would be in tatters, but I understand little of reality and such things.

    Here, I wonder if that new super Myo Xp would shine through the hood giving a coloured light and maintaining good night vision.

  3. A bit off topic this, sorry. I`ve been wondering about shell jackets for a while. It seems a lot of people wear them when it isn`t raining (especially in photos in mags, including reader contributed pics). Is it a conditioned response, “I`m walking, so I need my waterproof on”. You mentioned putting your shell on as it got cold, fair enough but a lot of the photo`s in mags have people in much better conditions wearing them.
    I get hot if I put a microfleece on under my windshirt, waterproofs while moving are definately a last resort.
    I`m really not trying to take the piss, i`ve only limited experience of a lot of weather conditions, more that I`m genuinely not sure of the reasoning. Are really good shells breathable enough to wear all day instead of a windshirt?

  4. In a word no. No waterproof is going to be cool enough to wear all day, even the most breathable eVent jacket would turn into a sweat box at some point.

    At this time of year I rarely carry a windshirt on Munros. It’s colder, the wind chill is significant and a shell works fine. You get a little bit of insulation as well as windproofness.
    On Wednesday night I had on an Icebreaker Oasis long sleeve crew neck, a Haglofs Gemini microfleece and later on a Haglofs LIM Ultimate Paclite shell. I was hot until I got above the tree line and into the wind, at that point I rolled down my sleeves and zipped up the front of the hoody. I was charging on a bit and I could easily feel the wind through my clothes, but all that did was keep me cool, so I was comfy. I could have worn a windshirt and a baselayer, but at 500m when it got really cold I would still have put on the hoody and the LIM Ultimate.

    When the sun went down it was baltic and the wind picked up so I put my LIM Ultimate and I was fine from then on until I hit the tree line again on the way down, at which point I ended up roasting. But 1km from the carpark, I couldn’t be arsed taking a layer off.

    In the magazine pitures I really don’t know what they’re doing. It’s either to make them look like mountaineers, they’re cold standing around getting their pictures taken and are wearing all their clothes to keep warm or they’re daft.

    I think a shell is for when you need really it, and I’ll keep it in the sack for as long as possible. In winter though, you can get away with wearing it more just because it’s colder.

    Hmmm, it just occured to me that this is why there’s so many complaints of folk trashing waterproofs. They just habitually wear it when they’re out?

  5. Wellll one little thing I’d add – I now wear waterproofs a lot, all day. But only because they’re made from that bizarre Paramo stuff instead of plastic sheet of some kind (eVent, Gore)

    The Cioch jackets I’ve been on about on OM and the blog – wow. Truly versatile bits of winter kit. Astonishing range of comfortable temperatures and conditions.

    I’m holding back from a follow up blog entry until I’ve been unlucky enough to be out on a really, really wet day (instead of lots of wet snow) but so far – boy they’re impressive.

    I am now dreading summer and the return to sweaty waterproofs, even my favourite eVent – I kid not.

  6. Aye, good point.

    I’d love one of my current shells to be remade in Paramo.
    The styling, features and fit of Paramo is what’s always put me off.

    Cioch is the best alternative until Furtech sort that hood out. I wonder how much a bespoke design would be…?!

  7. Paramo? Thought I`d got the wrong blog for a minute then;)

    Actually it was one of the things I`d thought before I posted, I could understand if it was just people wearing Paramo, but it doesn`t seem to be.

    I agree with the durability thing, do most people really push it that hard they can damage a waterproof if they only wear it when it`s raining heavily, or is it more peoples opinions based on what they think a waterproof should feel like instead of how it actually will be used.

    Again, I dunno, I guess I`ll find out with more experience, for now I think it`d have to be freezing cold and peeing it down for me to bother with a waterproof on a day walk.
    (If you see a headline next week, “Man found hypothermic on Pen-y-Whernborough”, you`ll know I`m learning the hard way ;)

  8. Well a call to Neil would let you know how much a bespoke design would me in fairly short order :)

    I’d have thought that starting from the Glamaig and changing some bits (probably more than I did) might be the best way to go.

    I’d probably have higher pockets and I might do away with the chest map pocket… but it’s very handy none the less.

    Honestly though I can’t get over the comfort of them.

    And the weight’s not really an issue since you tend to wear it all the time instead of carrying it. Plus it can take the place of a mid layer in a lot of conditions.

    I wish I’d bought one years ago!

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