We had planned to go further north and west, a friend and I, to climb bigger mountains in the Mamore range, near Ben Nevis. The weather has been keeping just ahead of the forecasters and what appeared promising for today became a prospective struggle in arduous winds with likely snow and hail in that area; Plan B was formed, Ben Vorlich, the western one, by Loch Lomond, shorter, closer, still a quality mountain and, for me, a new one.
The wind was strong, the air cool, I put on extra layers for the first time since March. The walk in, from the car park near the hydro-electric power station south of Ardlui, revealed rugged peaks and advancing bands of rain and lower cloud. My camera was going to have to be my sketchbook today.
We had a good ascent up a clear and well-used path, good conversation and challenging questions augmented by challenging squalls of wind and rain and good scenery.
Despite the wind, perhaps 45 knots on the summit, we found calm shelter behind contorted rocks to eat lunch and greet other visitors, including a pair of ravens to whom we offered encouragement, but no lunch, in memory of an incident on another mountain.
There were many moments of dramatic and fast-changing light, mist, views, too fast to draw, even had I been alone; memory and the camera would have to capture what they could, for later reflection and inspiration.
I love the drama of strong contrasts, the many greys of clouds, deep inky-black land-forms under murky masses of cloud while dazzled by a bright shaft of sunlight and slivers of silver light off wet rocks or a wedge of vivid green-yellow grass against deep blue- or brown-black mountain sides behind. I feel the urge to paint these things, the motivation is building again to do this.
Descent felt tiring, though not difficult, my feet chafing more than usual, my faithful boots feel like they are less a part of me than previously. Less conversation now, more concentration. Reaching the road felt good, we had completed a “quality mountain day”, as the guidance notes for my logbook used to say. We have had food for body, spirit and mind today; bon appetit!