Ben Vorlich (943m)

Sunday 23rd February 2020

Distance: 11kms - Duration: 5hrs 30mins - Group Size: 9

Walk Leader - Ian

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February and this was to be my first venture into winter hill conditions this winter session, the weather having been dominated by a series of storms, with copious amounts of rain and high winds; and, as I packed my ice axe and crampons, I realised that it was a full two years since they were last used, as I missed the whole of last winter session because of an achilles injury.

It was a damp and misty start to the day as we left the car park at Inveruglas and made our way up the hydro track towards the dam at Loch Sloy, and what breaks did appear in the grey mist and cloud confirmed the presence of a significant covering of snow on any ground above the 250 to 300 metre height. A kilometre short of the dam we left the track and took to the open hillside on a vastly improved track, which two years ago, was a steep, rough and boggy affair, and is now a stepped rock and boulder track, the National Park having obviously done some sterling work in recent months to upgrade the lower section of the track. However, it is short lived, and soon deteriorates into a very rough track, and, given the snow covering, which by now was 15 to 20cms deep, was at times difficult to follow.

By the time we were in the upper reaches of Lag Dubh the going was becoming more difficult, not aided by the frequent squalls of sleet and snow that were blowing through. We deviated from the usual route to head directly up a more sheltered section of hillside aiming to gain the main ridge at the 750m height. Just short of the 750m ridge, we stopped among a group of large boulders which offered a good sheltered spot for a short break. Taking stock of our time to this point, and the conditions, we decided to split the party, with four of our group electing to continue onto the main ridge, and hopefully onwards to the summit, still an hours hard walking away. The remaining five of which I was one, decided to reverse our route and make a slow and steady descent back to the Loch Sloy track.

We made the descent without incident, and, in what was now heavy rain, made our way back to Inveruglas. to await the arrival of the intrepid four who we had last seen heading for the ridge. And well done to them, an hours hard walking along the ridge and they gained the summit, and without delay, simply turned around and like, us, retraced their steps on the descent back to Loch Sloy, arriving back at Inveruglas some two hours after us, quite a walk, and well done. As for the ice axe and crampons; well they were not required, the snow, although deep, was soft and there was no indication of icing at any point along our route. However, better to take them and not need then, than to need them and not have them.

Thanks Ian for a brilliant day on the hills.

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