Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Meet

I was happy to oblige and offer my services when PTC* put up a post a short while back looking for folk to Come out and play with test kit on the hills and I'm pretty glad I did too. Not only was the gear spot on, the company was fantastic too. Folks that get all enthused and excited about being in the hills and  appreciate the lure of the shiny shiny. There was a multitude of gear on test provided kindly by John from Ardblair Sports and Ollie from 9point9. I'll get into details about the kit later .

After I arrived in the car park in Arrochar I quickly met John and then rest of the team turned up. We must have looked a right old sight hanging about the car park trying on various items of clothing, packing and unpacking before we eventually all made a move to head up the familiar track with all it's switchbacks eventually bringing us out above the treeline at the foot of Beinn Narnain and the Cobbler. The pace was relaxed with plenty of starting and stopping which pleased me as I was a little worried I might slow the group down with my ruined lungs. The weather was changeable, going from sunny spells to wet snowy showers and the winds picking up as we gained height.

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As the Cobbler hove into view the weather seemed to break and we were subjected to the joy of the Southern Highlands in all their glory. The atmosphere was great with plenty of banter, chat about the pros and cons of the test kit we were using and frequent stops for cameras to be aimed at the scenery. As we ascended the track the possibilities of various campsites were discussed and one of PTC's options of the sheltered area behind the Narnain Boulders was soon settled upon.

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Tents sprung up all around with all the Big Agnes test tents clustered together and mine stuck in the middle. It wasn't long before I noticed my trusty old Laser Competition was flapping around a lot more than usual. Something didn't look right. Upon closer inspection it was found that one of my main guy line tabs had pulled its stitching out of the pole hood and come adrift. With everybody mucking in to shift the tent and it's contents (Thanks folks!) I retreated to a slightly more sheltered pitch nearer PTC and Phil and made a running repair which held up well in the increasingly stiff gusts and breeze overnight.

Dinner for me was tasty affair of Pasta in Lasagna sauce from Mountain House. There was a new flavour of Macaroni Cheese passed about which I believe went down well. Fed and watered I used the last of the failing light to play with the camera some more before turning in for an early night.

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It was a cold night in which I didn't sleep much. Mainly due to the sub zero temperatures and having to answer the call of nature at 02:00am and I tell you I'm glad I wasn't wearing one of those "onesy" base layers at the time. I just can't see how that would work in those conditions! Fatigued though I was, I could help but grin like a mad man as I realised I could see the colour of my flysheet through the inner and stuck my head outside. I spent a fair bit of time wandering around the campsite taking more photographs and watching the sun rise as gradually my boots defrosted and the others began to stir.

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After many coffee's and breakfast eaten whilst wandering around taking in the alpine feeling views we packed up some lighter rucksacks minus tents and sleeping bags and headed off towards the Cobbler decked out in our matching and in some cases (Kelvin) clashing colourful team Montura wardrobes.

The ascent was short from our campsite but it felt like proper winter conditions as we all donned  spiky feet, mainly from Hillsound. It was an enjoyable climb with the air again full of banter interspersed with the crunch of steel versus ice and rock. We scrambled and climbed steadilly up the front face of one of Scotland's most recognisable and picturesque mountains before stopping on the bealach between the north and south peaks. I swapped my top with Kelvin for a bit so he finally matched  briefly but I wasn't long in getting it back off him. I really liked that Montura softshell top and was genuinely sad to see it dissapear back into John's car later that day!

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Most of us went for the north peak although I think some of us headed for the south peak. The views were admired and we all hung around for a bit just soaking in the atmosphere in one of the worlds best spots I reckon. Eventually though we had to leave it all behind and get back to reality. I had only a short distance to drive home compared to some of the others. We stomped off the mountain by our route of ascent and arrived back at the tents where I had time for one last cuppa before packing up my tent and the rest of my gear and reluctantly heading back to the car park.

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We eventually said our goodbyes in the car park and returned the test kit before heading home.  I had a great weekend in the best winter conditions I've had this year. I got to test some great kit (honestly it was all great stuff) and I met up with a great bunch of folk. I can't wait till the next big event!

6 comments:

  1. Great stuff. It really was a top weekend wasn't it. Some great pics there, and that shot of the catalogue model Kelvin is just quality!

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  2. Can't help but agree Michael - great photos Sandy.
    Cheers
    More-On

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  3. Oh Dear Kelvin and his outdoor fashion sense! :-)

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  4. Nice sunset n camping photies, Sandy. Makes me want to get the tent out of the loft.

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  5. Great photos and what a good idea PCT had. Cracking post.

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