I lunch time catch up with PTC in the Tiso cafe got us discussing another weekend away !
The TGO forum guys were having a meet up in the Lochaber area and PTC was planning to meet up with them.
This after a massive hunt to find a large ended up coming from George Fisher in Keswick with some pretty slick service.
One other thing I needed was a good winter bag so I lazily dropped PHD an e mail asking if they had shelf stock (picking up the phone would have been better but we are so lazy these days !).
If I had picked up the phone I would of had my bag in time for going away, instead it got delivered at 11.35am on the Friday and I left the house at 10.30 am (BUGGER !)
I arrived at PTC HQ to find him almost packed but at the same time at a dilemma of what to take !
Everybody thinks kit testing is a dream, but in reality it must be a curse !
I like to know my kit and where it is and what limits you can take it to before you need to add another layer or carry a bigger pack.
Gear testing means ever changing layers, bags, packs dictated by who wants a review at that time !
After having kit thrown at me (A Big AGnes Seedhouse 1 and an Alpkit 600 Down Bag) we departed and headed for the usual trudge North on the dreaded Loch Lomond Road.
The road was alright and we made good progress arriving in Fort William for a quick stop to eat pies and get a gas canister for my stove .
Heading for the car park at Polldubh we drove up Glen Nevis in pleasant conditions.
I re packed my bag to fit everything in and we struck out aiming for the Lochan at the West shoulder of Sgurr an Lubhair.
We climbed up onto the path and headed up the hill stopping to glance at the line of The West Highland Way heading up the other valley.
We climbed up further passed the digger on the hill placing furrows for more non native trees to patch work the Glen with.
The valley was very photogenic and despite the late start we stopped often to click away.
We stopped to chat to a few people who were coming off the summit of Stob Ban they said it was pretty windy on the tops with loads of heavy polished ice on the path, I think they thought we were mad !
As we got further up the jaggy shoulder ridges of Stob Ban were in full view with amazing snow filled gullies snaking through the grey rock.
It was getting dark and we agreed that the Lochan would be a bit exposed so we started looking for a campsite.
We started to pith in a boulder field between 2 streams, it was amazing sight with a waterfall in the background as well as the gullies heading to Stob Bans summit.
In a blur of activity we rushed to pitch the tents in the already dying light.
The seedhouse SL1 pitches inner first which I am not a big fan of but this pitched really quickly and clipping the fly sheet on was a 30 second job !
We were on a slight slope so text book pitching had gone out the window !
Tents pitched and the light gone, it was time for a brew !
The cloud cleared briefly and lit up the snow in the gullies, as it was too early for dinner (in my mind ! PTC was hungry ) we walked back up the slope to path to see if we could get above the ridge to see the moon.
20 mins later we were halted in our tracks by pure ice on an exposed part of the track !
I would of been fine as I had ice bugs on but PTC had Keens and Kahtoolas were back at the camp !
We opted to head for home and eat dinner !
The porch is not the biggest on the seedhouse but big enough to offer protection to cook in especially when you use the snowclaw as an extra wind break.
I bolstered my re-hydrated meal with some Smoked Venison Jerky, I ate the rest whilst waiting for my dinner to re constitute !
I think the smoked venison is my favourite but its hard to decide as they are all great !
I sat at the porch of PTC’s tent as we ate dinner (sitting on the snow claw !)
We had a good natter about nothing important, the temp was dropping so I jumped in my bag and read my book.
The seedhouse has a mesh inner and whilst in between chapters I looked up to see the moon glowing through a clear patch in the sky.
This initiated a frenzy of cameras and tripods to try and capture the moment.
I went back to reading my book and about midnight I put my I pod on as the wind had picked up a bit, after a bit I dropped off and woke up about 2am to go for a pee and take a picture of the moon above Stob Ban.
I drifted back to sleep cosey in my down bag only to rudely awoken at approx 7am by th mesh inner of the tent being blown in my face followed be the rest of the tent landing on top of me !
At the same time PTC let out a yelp (he was up wind of me ) as his tent done a similar thing.
The gust must of been one of those 100mph (at least !) gusts fore casted !
It ripped pegs out and bent poles and caused general carnage through our campsite.
we lept out our tents quilted to the nines on the upper body and for me long johns and bare feet in boots to replace pegs and try and regain from the “buffeting”.
The seedhouse was still there but just not looking well s we put rocks on pegs and tensioned lines.
I jumped back into the bag and dozed for half an hour until the waft of PTC’s stove urged me into action to have a brew.
Despite it being now past 8am it still was not totally light.
Cooking in the porch in my tent was not going to happen so I resorted to the small dip behind the tents.
The aftermath !
As I packed up my kit the wind picked the pole bag from inside the tent and threw it up the hill behind us in one last gasp to say ” yeah you think you can win !”
I ran up the hill after it finally finding it in a small puddle.
It was worth it as it gave a great photo of the campsite !
The TGO crew appeared in the distance and the weather “pat its shants ” and we made a hasty retreat of the hill for a warm coffee shop and some banter.
On reflection I was gutted that the seedhouse got what it did and I think it is unfair to judge it on its performance due to the wind direction !
Ach well we drove down the road with a stop in the Real Food Cafe for a pint of Coffee.
Happy Days ! NEXT !