Sunday, 28 October 2012

Remember - Ben Lomond is a Munro!

The closest Munro to Glasgow is Ben Lomond, because it so close the visitors it attracts can vary in mountain experience, if any. From the car park at the foot, which in the summer, can be home to campers who are not ecologically conscious and are partial to a tonic wine to the routes up to the summit which have some unprepared, naive walkers. Obviously I am generalising to the participants undertaking this hill but I have seen a varying degree of outerwear and some questionable decisions made about starting times.

I really want people to see what Scotland has to offer but just because it is an hour outside Glasgow does not mean that it is less of a mountain than the other Munros on the list. It must be treated with the respect any mountain deserves. If the weather turns, which I have seen happen, it will leave you as up the proverbial creek as the In Pin will! 

Today I was on the hill with my usual crowd and we brought along a mate, Stevie, his wife, Emma and their 13 year old son, Grant. I like introducing people to mountains, especially friends and family. The forecast wasn't great so thats always a risk when taking newbies out. Stevie had been out with us before and he knows we're not fair weather walkers. I don't know if Emma and Grant were quite as aware. We set off up our usual ascent route, Ptarmigan route. There was a drizzle at this stage but as we neared the summit the rain was constant. Rab and I donated our water proof trousers to Emma and Grant and spare gloves were replaced with their saturated ones. Were they unprepared? In a word, yes! It didn't matter though my team weren't. We are just in case people; spare gloves, confidence ropes, Del even has a 5kg weight(story for another time). Between us we had enough stuff for us all to get up to the summit safely. Coming out of the Bealach on the last stretch to the trig point the wind started to increase this resulted in Hughan having to hold on to Grant so he didn't blow into the glen below. When we reached the summit the only photo of the day was taken and we headed straight down the tourist path. 
As we dropped down the wind eased off and further down the rain lightened. In the opposite direction there were still folk going up. We were pretty early starting so anyone coming towards us still had a decent amount of daylight to complete the route. Still I did have concerns over some of the attire, especially the 3 lads who were wearing cotton t-shirts. It was still raining then and they were heading for colder temperatures.

I'm not a mountain leader of any kind but I have experience, good and bad, and with the other three we do alright on the hill. I don't think todays companions were worried. I am, however, always worried about unprepared individuals walking into the severity of winter. Some will be a ride in a Sea King waiting to happen. I'm sure we will see incidents like this through the upcoming season and most will probably be avoidable if there was a little more knowledge. 

If you are reading this and you are not sure of how to be prepared for bad weather find someone who knows, whether it be a friend or pay for a guide. The outdoors are great and I implore everyone to try it. Please do it safely though and it will be enjoyable whatever the weather.

Have fun out there and stay safe.