Vane Glory (or Ben Vane 1, Prometheus 0)

Having posted on something a while after the event the last time, I’m at it again! I’m well behind now, having been away for more weekends and spent the weeks in between keeping up with the normal stuff.

On Friday, 1st June I took a delivery up to Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute. The weather forecast looked pretty good, so I planned to take the opportunity to sneak a peak, as I often do when delivering near near some decent hills, then spend the night in my van afterwards. I’m slowly (very slowly) working my way through all the ‘Munros‘ (3000ft mountains in Scotland): there are 283, and I have climbed just over half  of them. An obvious ‘new’ Munro for me was Ben Vane, which would be number 147.

Wanting to get maximum value out of my time away from home, I also booked a ticket to see Prometheus, in IMAX 3D at the Odeon, Braehead cinema. I’d never seen an IMAX film before, so I was looking forward to a spectacular treat!

The standard ascent of Ben Vane is a straightforward, out-and-back route: the foot of the mountain is accessed by a hydro-electric service road from the side of Loch Lomond, then the peak is climbed up a steep path with a few brief scrambling opportunities.

The ‘hydro’ sub-station and several sets of pylons clutter the views lower down, so it’s just as well the service road is tarmacked and makes for rapid progress. It was a relief to be climbing the mountain path in ‘no time’.

The path winds its way through very steep, craggy slopes. The steepest bits are rather dirty, as you would expect, but many of these take you round the edge of sections of lovely, clean, not-too-steep rock, which were a pleasure to scramble up. I was wearing my Merrell Trail Gloves, and, just as I found on the Start Point tors, they were really suited to this. It was fairly sunny, but with a refreshing breeze; ideal for a fast paced ascent.

I got to the summit in about 90 minutes from the road and spent a while enjoying the views and taking pictures. I made a quick descent, which would have been tricky and slow without the path (crags are hard to spot from above) and got an interesting view of Ben Lomond between two small rock faces on the way down (see the last picture).

Many runners get delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in their thighs after big downhill runs, which is due to eccentric muscle damage, caused by using the thighs as brakes during the descent. Confidence and technique allow good hill runners to let gravity do its thing on steep descents, going faster and more or less avoiding DOMS in the process.  However, the descent was fairly technical and I couldn’t ‘let rip’, so I got my first case of DOMS for years a couple of days later!

I had plenty of time to get to Braehead and see Prometheus, which was rather an anti-climax, hence the alternative title for this post. I posted the review, below, on Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s film review Facebook page:

Firstly the film – Not so much a triumph of style over content as design over content. The ‘deep’ questions the film asks are a cipher, a reason to fly a beautifully designed ship out to a beautifully designed planet, which has some beautifully designed alien stuff and aliens on it, where the crew, a group of underdeveloped characters who we don’t much care about, get involved in some beautifully designed set pieces.

It was a stunning film, but didn’t leave much of an impression, because the depth promised early on evaporated. If you want a proper thrill ride, which doesn’t promise any depth, but actually delivers (a bit) more, see The Raid.

Then the 3D -This was my first IMAX film: where was the extra detail? My guess is that my brain was too busy trying to focus on things that appeared to be at different distances because of parallax, but were actually all at more or less the same distance (on the screen), to properly process all that lovely IMAX detail. So I say Mark’s right: 3D isn’t just a gimmick, it’s a distraction that gets in the way of a good viewing experience.

Another problem with 3D is that it you have to keep your head vertical: cock it slightly, as you tend to do when staying in the same position for a while, and the polarising no longer lines up and you’ve got a double image.

Oh, and the deluxe 3D glasses we were loaned for the screening gripped my skull like a vice behind my ears and gave me a bit of a sore head by the end of the film.

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