The Ptarmigan Ridge, Ben Lomond
The most southerly Munro and possibly the mountain most ascended by the people of Glasgow, a fine outing and one that’s been done many times…. The weather hasn’t been something to shout about so far this year so when a short settled spell was forecast we decided to take another “tick” off the list. The hills were white after a few days of heavy snow and the forecast until the next day was for light winds on the tops.
We met after work in Glasgow and were soon arriving in the Rowardennan carpark just as those that had been able to ascend during the day were packing up and heading home… Quickly gearing up, we were off quickly ascending the path toward Tom Fithich. Our planning had been that we should still have enough light to reach the first ridge before getting the torches out and this was indeed the case. With no wind we were sweating and until we stopped at the Bealach Buide we were walking with long sleeved base layers and Gilets only- not something that happens often in a Scottish January whilst ploughing through the snow!
However the down side was that the snow pack wasn’t frozen and snow shoes may have helped on the ascent up! As we rose onto the Ptarmigan ridge we rose above the first layer of cloud, Loch Lomond had disappeared under the blanket…
Walking along the shoulder the gloom deepened and the light faded. It was rather eerie, seemed strange for me to be headed up in these conditions without the tent and a wild camp planned!
Soon we reached the foot of the final pull up to Ben Lomond’s 974m summit. Torches on and we geared up for the final pull. As we moved the white snow in front of us sparkled and shone and as the second layer of cloud was reached the snow crystals floated in the air sparkling around us. Care and technique was required as we continued to break trail on these steep slopes to the summit. In the day you can see the wonderful views and appreciate the situation of the Ptarmigan ridge, however in the darkness it’s the stark line between white and black that reminds you of where you are. Passing the light left to right, this black void keeps you on the right line, and soon we reach the rimmed up trig point – half way…… As light breeze blows some summit mist around and every now and then the moon appears - lighting up the slopes around us, the light of Glasgow are just visible between he cloud layers of the inversion and when not completely visible an amber hue is lighting up the cloud tops from below…. It’s a wonderful place to be, familiar but completely alien at the same time ….
Bearings taken and we started the second part of the adventure descending on the never ending path over Sron Aonaich and finally back through the forest to the car. A fine outing in the summer and a fine mountaineering effort in the winter …. Over the next few days the gales and mild air returned melting the snow and filling the Loch! We were glad to have been able to experience this mountaineering adventure…. Next ones in the planning J
Below Photos : Mountaineering concentration required up steep snoy laden slopes.... SECOND PHOTO - leaving the summit
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...