Saturday, 13 October 2012
Not quite lunch
After a certain trip a while ago to test some kit from Montura, a few of us have kept in touch. Usually meeting up for lunch in the Fit Food Cafe in the Glasgow Tiso's. My work commitments and ever rotating shift pattern however, has meant that I've been not been able to make it for the past few months. Not wishing to seem like an antisocial git we decided that we should make an alternative plan and actually get out on a hill. A last minute plan (Davy's idea really) to head east and take in the classic Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin came together. I was pleased as I didn't have to drive anywhere this time. All I had to do was pack a rucksack and I'd be chauffeured from my door to the hills and back which was rather nice! In the end there were 3 of us (Davy, Michael and I) meeting at Loch Earn last Saturday morning and taking the usual route from Ardvorlich. The pull up to Vorlich's summit is a fairly constant but enjoyable slog all the way up from the lochside. The views and the banter were great and I was pleased with the performance from my lungs. They maybe weren't as strong as the others (despite Michael's manflu) but I'm definitely feeling the positive effects of all the miles on the road bike I've been putting in recently. For the first time in a long while I feel like I'm actually starting to get on top of this Sarcoidosis. More about that later though, maybe. Vorlich's summit had few day walkers milling around and we stopped for a breather and some photies. Up high it was quite breezy and the wind had definite bite to it. I pulled on my Rab VR and stuffed a cheese and ham roll down my face. We wandered along the short summit ridge to the other top and wondered about the man with the funny looking red and white PVC gaiters we spotted! After a while we left Vorlich to the hordes and set off descending to the Bealach as Stuc a Chroin's rocky scramble loomed before us. It's a fairly impressive looking scramble on the approach but it's no where near as difficult as you might think. In fact I reckon Nellie dug would even manage it fine though there is plenty of easier routes for anybody that's an even bigger Jessie than me. Topping out on scramble we had a surprising encounter with Wonder Woman (aka Paulo) striking a rather revealing pose on the summit. After we recovered from the shock and got over the hilarity we realised it was the same bloke with the funny looking gaiters. Turns out they weren't Haglofs or Berghaus's new colour scheme then...thankfully! Chatting to Paulo we learned that he was up there for the Mondo Loco Foundation who are doing some fantastic sounding work in Africa. He plans on being Wonder Woman on every Munro Summit to bring attention to the fact that a lot of women in Africa are spending all their time collecting water rather than in education. I really hope they manage to get that issue sorted out to allow these folk to then help themselves. We headed over to Stuc a Chroins summit proper and scouted about for a suitable spot for the 3 tents. I was mindfull that I had no floor in my "silly tarp thing" so high, dry and exposed was order of the day. After a few photies the tents were up and before long I had a steaming hot coffee in hand while I phoned the missus to check in. There was plenty of time spent gadding about the summit pointing the camera at the scenery as we watched the sky burst with colour as the sun sunk lower and lower. We had a sea plane fly past and give us a wing tip waggle as we listened to the rutting stags gie'n it laldy in the corries and glens beneath us. Honestly it sounded like a scene from Jurassic park! The wind was pretty strong and even though the forecast was for it to lessen it seemed to get stronger. Davy's Laser Comp was starting to look like the invisible man was sitting on it. My Shangri La 3 was just shrugging the wind off which is surprising given it's size. (really starting to become my favourite tent!) I was mightily impressed with Michael's Vaude Lizard thing with it's fancy pole clip doodah's. It just stood there as if there was no wind at all. Before retreating to tent's for dinner I gave Davy my emergency guy lines to try and hold his Laser comp up in the ever increasing wind. We all know the Laser comp's strength is in it's bendiness but it was starting to look a bit scarily out of shape. Dinner was a couple of pasta mug shots and some shredded beef which is a surprisingly cheap, filling and tasty hill food option. Easy to pick up to if you run out of mountain house etc. Some more photo's in the failing light then it was off to bed for a cocoa before turning in to listen the rattle of silnylon. While boiling the water for my cocoa the stove decided to play funny buggers. It was either minimum power or off with no adjustment in between. I did manage to get the water boiled but it was slow. I slept well despite the wind slamming into the rear of the tent all night. There did seem to be a lull around 10ish when I was out to "water the roses", but it was far to cold to mess about with long exposure times on the camera so I just hopped straight back into my warm downy cocoon. I awoke to my alarm and promptly switched it off before rolling over again. The next thing I knew the guys were shouting my name to tell me the sun was just coming up. I jumped up, pulled on my jacket, gloves and hat and grabbed the camera before heading out into the bitterly cold morning. It's quite an invigorating feeling watching the sun peek over the horizon from a mountain summit. Something more folk should experience I think. You kind of forget the cold and get caught up in the moment as you take snap after snap. Eventually the sun was up and I retreated back to the tent for breakfast and coffee. The stove was just as slow but it got there in the end. I waited till it boiled before I opened the door and breakfasted with one of the most fantastic views I've had in a long time. It was cold but I was wrapped up well as the sun rose higher and higher giving off it's warming ray's to compliment the hot coffee and porridge. Breakfast of champions! I heard the sound of tent poles being collapsed and hung off as long as I could, enjoying the sun beating in my door but inevitably I had to pack up and drop the tent. With the others waiting I eventually slung my pack over my shoulder and we set off taking the easier route out. The early sun still casting great light and shadows over previous days two summits. A cracking wee trip. The sort that sets you up for the coming week!