Friday morning and another early rise not a mouse stirs in suburbia. Outside the confines of my meagre brick and mortar dwelling it is strangely still and unseasonably mild.
My destination or jaunt as I prefer is for one of my favourite mountains the Brack well technically she’s a Corbett all of 787m and is situated in Glen Croe between Ben Donnich and Cnoc Coinnich Ardgarten near Arrochar.
I have taken it upon myself for this jaunt to leave the Akto at home and dust down my old vango tempest 200 which has not seen the light of day for about four years. My main thoughts for doing so is basically down to comfort at camp being able to store winter gear and cook in the larger vestibule especially in foul conditions.
The forecast for the day was relatively good for the area a slight breeze and occasional light shower but was due to change as night wore on.
My journey to Arrochar was uneventful this time thankfully. However quite a few of the peaks that were visible from the roadside looked to have a nice blanket of snow on them this is when I get that feeling of here we go cant wait to get up there.
Donning my pack at the car park in Ardgarten along with the rest of my gear it wasn’t particularly noticeable of the extra weight I was carrying with the tempest.
My initial approach was on the forestry track which leads onto a well worn path through lush vegetation and after about a kilometre it opens out with views to your left of Cruch Fhiarach the smaller summit on the ridgeline with the Brack to your right.
The first impression you get of this little gem is its sheer ruggedness large boulders the size of small bungalows lie precariously on its flanks there are bivvy caves , water sources to hand and to many nooks and crannies to mention.
Not surprisingly The Brack is used for exercises by mountain rescue and has good graded climbing routes with names like Hell Mend Ya, The Abbys, Hogwarts Express, Elephant Train, and Great Central Groove.
I decided to camp around 250m below the summit in a sheltered boulder field due to the night forecast of strengthening winds and heavy rain. But unfortunately this was easier said than done the snow was wet so wouldn’t compact and the underlying surface was sodden. I carefully picked out the best of a bad lot and managed to give myself some semblance of a compacted pitch.
It had been quite a time since I last pitched the tempest but 10 minutes later I was laying my gear inside and ready to have well deserved meal of chicken casserole. I was really surprised at how mild it was to the point I discarded the HH long johns and went down to my drawers,. not a pretty site.
time for a selfie (hate that expression)
Having used the Akto for the best part of four years I was increasingly becoming a little frustrated at the lack of space especially on winter trips don’t get me wrong I love this shelter and it has served me well over the years but I was yearning for a little more comfort so until the MLD Trailstar arrives I decided to bring out the Vango.
As the night progressed the weather was starting to take a turn for the worst the rain was coming down really hard beating a constant rhythm on the tent and the wind was making those strange sounds as it only can in the mountains, My choice of sheltered pitch had paid off my guards and companions in the boulder field that night were fending of the worst of the wind having no effect whatsoever on the tempest which pleased me greatly. This was a novelty having that extra space to dress in and pee in (bottle of the sport variety) the only downside I did notice was condensation on the floor which I hadn’t experienced with the Akto.
Admittedly my sleep was broken a few times during the night with the heavy rainfall but all in all in the morning I did feel rested up at five thirty, coffee and a few oatcakes later I was breaking camp.
What a surprise that was on exiting my sleeping quarters it looked as if I had been transported onto another mountainside not a hint of snow anywhere it had gone had the snow fairies taken it away or was there some strange meteorological phenomenon at work. Nope it must have been all that rain on wet snow so there goes my day of taking shots of this little beauty in its nice white cardy and further to make my day its started chucking it down and I still have the tent to pack up .
You’ve got to laugh.