Date of Climb: 5th March, 2017
Objective: Ben Arthur (“The Cobbler”), Arrochar
Was joined for this climb by my son David, his friend Cameron Gilchrist and my work colleague Adam Walker. None of my fellow walkers had climbed this mountain before, although I have on several occasions. We all met in the car park at Succoth, Arrochar at 8:30 for a relatively early start. The forecast, whilst not brilliant, was for generally dry weather, although there was a chance of some snow or rain fall.
The initial path has been re-done and consists of what seems like never ending zig-zags. I almost always avoid these by climbing the traditional path, that whilst being steeper and less well worn, in my opinion, gets you to the forestry track quicker and still sane! We reached the track without mishap and the weather was grey but pleasant enough. We then joined the track to the baelach that allows you to access Ben Arthur, Beinn Narnain and Ben Ime. The track was wet and became increasingly snowy as we climbed higher and by the time we had reached the Narnain boulders, there was quite a lot of snow about, however, the weather remain stable and not too cold. I am pretty ‘hill-fit’ at the moment, but all three of the boys were coping well with the climb and we were maintaining a good pace.
We reached the baelach in good time, although the weather was beginning to close in a little with some light snow flurries. I had thought of us perhaps managing to complete more than one peak on the day, but it was becoming obvious that one was was going to be more than enough. After a short rest we started the ascent of the ‘stairs’, this being the recognised safest route to the summit in this type of conditions. Visibility was closing in fast and the snow increasing with every step, but all the boys we keeping up, although both Cammie and Adam we struggling a little for grip in the snow.
We reached the summit without any problems, although visibility was down to a few yards and the snow was quite heavy. There was no chance that anyone was going to ‘thread the needle’ today, with climbing through the hole in the rock at the summit, out onto the ledge and up onto the top of the rock, impossible given the weather conditions. there were a few people about in the summit, although no body was hanging about for too long with the high winds and heavy snow. We decided to descend a little before taking a well earned break and having some food and warm fluids.
Cammie as always had come prepared with a stove, an Italian style espresso coffee maker, water and freshly ground coffee. The rest of us settled for instant pre-prepared coffee! …. lol. After that short break, where we all felt the chilling effect of the weather, we started the descent.
This proved to be more challenging than we thought, with Cammie and Adam in particular finding the going hard with traction on the snow an issue, however we all took turns of sliding and falling on our backsides at pretty regular intervals. Luckily, we got back to the baelach, with no more than our pride dented.
The descent back down the path was uneventful as the snow stopped and the weather lifted quite considerably, with visibility almost in the good category by the time we got back to the cars, although David was suffering with painful knees, hopefully only a result of lack or practice.
Once safely back at the cars we had another coffee and a blether, before starting our journey home. All in all a good day with some excitement and challenging conditions, but we all made it to the top and have agreed to move onto another climb in the near future.