I still had another week left before I was due to go back to work.
I had a thought of spending a couple of nights out on the hill.
I pondered over maps and the Munro book and had a couple of ideas.
The weather was good so I sorted my kit, I attempted to squeeze everything into the Jerishanca and it all looked good till I attempted to pull the lid over and shut !
I had been talking to PTC the other day about getting a bigger pack and he had a Haglofs Ascent 48 in the house, at 1.8kg it comes in heavier than the OMM Villain but would probably do the job.
Still undecided I left the house late and headed to PTC HQ to pick up the pack.
We bantered for a while and drank coffee and PTC asked me where I was heading.
After a brief discussion his comment was “why don’t you just go to Ben Lomond or something close” he was right it was past 1pm and I still had to re pack.
I left still with no clear plan !
The A82 was clear and I made good time, deciding to head to Arrochar.
I re-packed and was on my way, the sun was already low in the sky and the air was cool.
I decided to go for familiar ground as it had been a while since I had been out.
I headed up the training track we used in summer for the WHWFalldoon, this starts at Succoth and heads up the side of Ben Narnain and A Chrois.
My plan at this point was to walk in to the point where the track crosses the Alt Coiregrogain burn and then decide on what to do with time available.
I suppose thats the beauty of having the tent, it gives you the flexibility to change your route or to rest up if you want.
As I crunched up the track I pondered my choice of footwear !
I had the Haglofs Mid 2 on and as I slid on the hard pack ice I was thinking the Ice Bugs might have been better.
I climbed onwards and upwards, the hill not being that bad from what I remembered it to be on the bike.
The sun was out and there was no one about !
The sun was shining high on the snowy peaks giving an amazing contrast to the dark green of the pines.
I finally reached the burn crossing and decided to head up the track towards Ben Ime.
I reached the track end at 15:36 the sun was gone and I was in the shade, making it feel that bit colder.
I waded through the deep snow between the trees and reached the fence line finally.
I was knackered just wading that short distance in the drifts, that and the extra weight in the pack I was struggling now.
On crossing the fence the plan was to head up to the Bealach a Mhaim and find a spot to camp, this would give me ample choice of what to do the next day.
But for some strange reason as I walked on I seen a gully that looked like it would take me to the summit of Ben Ime faster !
The easy Gully ! The buttress to the right of the gully was my campsite
I climbed steeply zig zagging up the gully, sometimes on drifts of snow some times on froze turf.
At this point I should have stopped stow my poles get my axe out and stick my crampons on.
Instead I continued on and up falling up to my waist in snow and having to pull my self out and slide on the surface to make any head way.
I had put my self under pressure, I was knackered but I had to keep going as the light was fading fast.
I looked across at the Cobbler and could see people on the top probably enjoying the amazing sunset !
I would miss it as I had made a dumb decision and was now in the shadows crawling up a gully !
I finally got to the top of one of the buttresses and found a flat spot, it was almost dark and I was done.
It took all my will to get the tent out and pitch it.
The ground was solid and it was hard to get the pegs in so I had to start a hole with the ice Axe and then hammer the peg in the best I could.
I used the snow claw to push the snow on the valance of the tent so it would be a bit more secure as I did not trust the pegs.
I climbed into the tent and got into my minimus trousers whilst I unpacked my sleeping bag.
I lay down and imediately drifted off to sleep for an hour.
I woke up and boiled some water whilst using hot water from the flask to have a cup a soup.
I refilled the flask with the water finished my soup and drifted off to sleep again for a couple of hours awakening at 10pm.
I had a walk around outside, it was really dark and there was no moon to be seen.
How come it works for PTC ?
I boiled more water and made up some Exped Chicken Tika and rice.
I was starving and savoured every spoon full and even escaped curry glove finger thanks the long exped foods spoon.
I had a read of my book for about an hour and then slept all the way through to 7am.
I stuck my head outside expecting it to be all misty and cloudy, instead it was clear and crisp and still dark and the moon was out now.
Inside the tent Suunto was telling me it was minus 2 degrees as I stuck my boots, gloves and hat on and headed outside for a pee.
I stuck the stove on for a brew and assessed my position on the hill, my legs were still tired but my mind was happy to go on.
A brew always makes you happier !
I sat on my rock carefree and cosy with my brew watching the colours changing, as I looked across at the cobbler I saw people on the top !
They must have got up early or camped on the top.
I started packing up with a strange reluctance, it was weird ! I felt like I wanted to stay.
No Haglofs to be seen here !
Poles were stowed and crampons were worn and the axe was out.
I climbed out the gully making better way than the day before and with a bit more confidence due to having the crampons and axe handy.
It was nice to be out the confines of the gully on more open ground and nice solid polystyrene type snow.
I pushed on into the sunlight and the shoulder of Ben Ime, the snow was solid and the wind had blown it into amazing shapes.
I zig zagged my way up the slope trying to avoid deep drifts incase they were soft in the bright sunshine.
The Kahtoolahs were great, biting into the hard pack without having front points to stab my leg with or trip over.
I reached the summit at about 12 noon, it was minus 4 on the summit as I dug a wee seat and had a brew whilst taking in the 360 degree vista.
My legs were empty, I looked across to Ben Vane wantingly but just knew that my legs would not make it.
I was gutted and happy at the same time !
Very rarely in Scotland do you get conditions like this.
I sat and took it all in whilst a breeze picked up and started biting at my face.
I finished my brew and packed my kit for the journey back down.
I could see others heading up the slope towards me.
I stomped down the hill having already made up my mind that I was heading home.
Ben Narnain still stood there goading me with a tempting and relatively short climb.
By the time I got to the Bealach I was hurting.
The choice was there tourist path between the Cobbler and Narnain or back down the way I came.
The cobbler looked like Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday afternoon and I was grumpy that I had let myself down so I chose solitude.
The slope down is fairly steep and quickly drops out the sun, despite that the snow drifts were crispy on top and soft below as I found out as I sank to my knees through the crust !
After reaching the trees I waded through the soft snow and even managed to find a small ditch to fall into, this really cheered me up as all the water and mud from the ditch had caused the snow to stick to my crampons and boots, forming a massive platform of snowy ice and slush to walk on.
I reached the track had a munch of Jerky and set off for the walk out.
I crunched down the frozen track (finally getting rid of my snow platforms) and put in the miles back to the car.
I was happy but every muscle in my body ached.
After a month of holiday it was a bit much to ask I suppose !