Ben Tee GM/WS-112

Grabbing a weather window…well nearly

Saturday 30th October and I found myself with a day off work. A day that fell in the middle of several days and waves of rain that were crossing the UK. I’d been studying the weather for a couple of days and it looked that I may be able to get half a days decent weather towards the west coast by driving into and through an incoming front. I needed a reasonably short hike and nothing too high. Ben Tee GM/WS-112 was the obvious choice.

I nearly didn’t go. The rain had been battering off our cottage roof all night. However a plate of porridge and some tea later and I assembled myself and my kit, setting off at 0650z.

The 108 mile drive over to Kilfinnan on Loch Lochy took me just 2 hours and 15 minutes, thanks to deserted roads and BMW M-Power. True to forecast, I drove through the heavy band of rain and out the other side into grey skies, with the promise of sunny spells later. I would be following the walkhighlands route.

Setting off at 0910z, the climb started immediately, initially up a muddy sheep track and then threading through bracken, aiming to follow some torturous route (from walkhighlands) programmed into my phone mapping. The path I was looking for was quite faint and hardly discernible from the many sheep tracks.

Park on the grass, not the turning area

It’s essential to follow the route exactly as described in order to pick up the correct path

I was soon up the mound pictured above and contouring around it, high above the gorge. My first view of Ben Tee came into sight. It looked very high, rough, steep and far away.

Ben Tee, centre picture

The path continued across some streams and eventually across a grassy area before starting to climb up to join the east ridge of the mountain. I was expecting really rough ground, as Walkhighlands really talk this one down. Ok, the path was wet and boggy, but everything in the UK would be that day. In the summer, it would be a reasonably dry earthy path through the grass and heather.

The wet hill path

My legs felt like lead as I climbed the only grass tussock section to gain the ridge. Probably the soft ground taking its toll. I’d expected the ridge to be rocky, but it was mainly of grass and it continued like this right up to the summit slopes. A shower passed over. I arrived at the top at 1050z.

At the top of Ben Tee GM/WS-112 - grey skies all around

The summit area was quite pronounced, however there was a broad grassy area over to the west side. That’s where I decided to set up my station. That consisted of my KX2 and a W3EDP strung across a 7m mast, inverted V style. It was strung south to north.

I’d just got the final connections made and was sitting down ready to get operating, when the heavens opened. I had no choice but to pull my Bothy Bag over my head from my sitting position. This was not ideal, as I was now sitting bolt upright on a side slope, side on to the wind. I had no feeder, so couldn’t re-orientate the radio. Great!

Tuning through 20m, it sounded like 40m does on a Saturday afternoon! Lots of contest stations had leaked up to the top end of the band. I had suspected that I would be using 17m today and that’s how it turned out!

Enforced refuge

17m was working well, particularly down to Spain. With 12 stations in the log (six of them Spanish) things died down and my subsequent CQ calls went unanswered. I could hear a couple of NA stations, however with deep fading.

When I came out of my cocoon, I was met with a rather pleasing sight.

The wind was bitterly cold however, so I wasted no time in packing up and then demolishing every piece of food in my bag. I departed 1201z.

The walk back down was as wet as ever underfoot, but much more pleasant, despite the occasional short squall.

Sron a’Choire Ghairbh GM/WS-092

Loch Lochy awaits below

Ben Tee to the right of the river gorge

I was about 200m from the car when another heavy shower started. Just as my gear was drying off in the breeze…
I was down by 1311 and on my way home soon after.

A bit about my gear and how it handled the WX.

Last time I was out, Mo had waxed all of our boots. I had wet feet in no time. On our return, I cleaned them off and liberally soaked them in Nikwax (liquid). This time my feet remained dry.

Paramo throughout. First time for a long time. I started off with just the mountain shirt and the Cascada trousers. The shirt is slightly fleecy but has loads of ventilation zips. It’s probably too warm for a summers day. The trousers are waterproof and are worn next to the skin. (I wear long johns with these in winter.) They have full length zips, which are partly vents.

When the rain came on, I donned the Paramo jacket, but opened all of the vent zips, given that I was on full charge going up the hill. The jacket remained on for the rest of the hike.

Paramo gear is ideal for this cool, wet and breezy kind of weather. It kept me cool when climbing, warm when stationery and on my return to the car, there was no moisture inside my clothing. Perfect.

In the bag, I also had my RAB lightweight down jacket, gloves, two hats (for some reason & I wore both!).

Ascent : 5.2km 3.25 miles 1 hr 33 mins, 911m climb
Operating time : 14 mins
Summit time : 1hr 10 mins (I had lunch and took photos while dryng off in the breeze)
Descent : 5.2km 3.25 miles 1 hr 10 mins

Ben Tee had only been activated three times before I rocked up, and not since 2015. It’s beside a main road in the west highlands, so why is this? Well the car park is also the start of the walk up GM/WS-092 & GM/WS-102, both Munros, both 6 points, so a 12 point day out. A much longer day out though. Oh, they’ve only been activated four times each…so there goes that theory.

Anyway, all three are pretty accessible hills and if you’re staying in the area, I can recommend them all, although maybe not all on one day.

73, Fraser


One or two of the photos give the wrong impression. That looks like a steep walk. Well done in those conditions. :slight_smile:

And another photo reminds me my boots are now no longer waterproof. They are fabric and gortex lined which I like but they only last a few years. Might have to look at leather for the replacements.


216 miles and some heavy rain - this is hard for 6 points.
Could it be you enjoy SOTA :wink:?

73, Ludwig


It did look steep, however gaining the ridge was shorter and less steep than it looked. My boots are leather with Goretex lining. The Goretex lining has just lasted a year and then given up. Gotetex in boots is never up to the job. Comparison with my 20 year old Scarpa Mantas. Thick leather and a decent rubber rand. They keep my feet dry no matter what is thrown at them in winter, however they weigh a tonne.

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Very much! I enjoyed the drive too. German engineering on empty Highland roads!


That’s quick for Goretex in leather. I’d expect at least 2 years in fabric boots + Goretex and much longer in leather boots. But it depends how the boot bends on each person’s foot. My Asolo Flame (fabric+Goretex) lasted 4.5 years and were the best fit, most comfortable boots ever. So of course, Asolo stopped making that design :frowning:

For my last activation I drove also 340 km and had to enjoy German Autobahn, starting in fog and with low traffic, later sunny with more traffic and return in the evening most in the dark with considerably more traffic. But it was ok for 2 x 10 Points and a tasty Kaiserschmarren :blush: after the last summit.

73, Ludwig

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Now, these sound nice. :yum:

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Many thanks for another great report and set of photos Fraser. I must admit that I was a wee bit surprised about the length of your drive knowing that you had plenty of hills closer to your QTH. That’s the sort of distance I drive, but in my case there is no option. Thankfully, like you I enjoy the empty roads… and German engineering.

If all goes well next Saturday, my journey will be 175 mile each way from my Northumberland base and that should bag me 8 points. It’s hard to earn points up in Scotland. I plan to start out at 02:45z… or earlier if I can’t sleep. If I last to 17:00z in the Trans-Atlantic S2S event, the return ETA is 22:30z. A full day, but hopefully worth it. :grinning:

73, Gerald

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Thanks Gerald. It was a combination of needing to see some different scenery and the chance of better weather that drove me west.

All things well, hope to hear you Saturday :crossed_fingers:

I’ve never had longevity with goretex boot linings. I think I have the same Meindl Bhutan boots as you do.

To be fair, they have taken a battering this year!

Thanks Fraser, great report and photos. Well done. :+1: :smiley:

Cheers, Geoff vk3sq

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Yep, there the ones. A classic Meindl failure point is above the big toe, the boots have a small-ish toe box and the top of your toes rubs on the Goretex wearing it away. The other is where the boot flexes and creases when you walk. Flexing can put fine cracks into Goretex that leads to failure. Still I’d expect more than a year even with your hammering you’ve given them.

A friend at work (3x Munro completist) used to do silly distances each weekend, 30km was a short day, wears Scarpa boots, I think Mantas was his choice but they don’t do them or have changed them now). He bought a few pairs online to have “in-stock”. He never has an issue with letting in because he always used Berghaus Yeti gaiters with them. He also wore away the sole in about 18months however he did such distance and he’s a thin bloke. Yetis have their own issues but they fit his size of boot very well and formed a brilliant combination.

It would matter less if they weren’t so expensive!

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I must have been lucky! I have a pair of Meindl Bhutan from 2017 that are still waterproof. Early 2020 they went back to Meindl for a resole via Bramwell the UK importer. They came back new sole / rand / foot beds & laces. I wear them all summer as I dont like trail shoes.

They are getting near end of life now, sole worn and rand is going. I just treat them with the Meindl sport wax or Grangers waterproofing wax (not G-Wax which is thicker).

I will buy another pair, but it does seem to be a lottery how long they stay waterproof!

73 Gavin


As an OF, it sounds to me like modern boots are pretty rubbish. I can’t remember the brand that I used to buy but they were leather with a half plate that I wore for walking, scrambling, and rock climbing in iffy weather that made my friction footware a bad idea. A pair of those lasted about ten years with one or two re-solings until eventually the uppers wore through. I treated them with natural oils (never Dubbin!) and they remained waterproof until the end. They cost a lot but were a good investment! Of course a season in the Alps would wreck similar boots but I didn’t use them for that!

When I bought my Bhutans I was telling the guy in the shop about my ancient Scarpa Mantas. He told me some reason they couldn’t get thick leather these days. I’m sure it was some EU regulation.
When I first started climbing you could still get boots with a “half last” steel plate and stitched soles. They went the same way as plastic boots, which I would have still owned had they not been somehow lost in a house move!

As Gavin says, if you buy decent boots at least you can still get them re-soled if the uppers are OK.

By the way, @GM0GAV and @MM0FMF , (and anyone else in GMland) when are we going up a hill together?


I would need a one day advantage to reach the top around the same time as you :joy:


Boots from around 1911. Interesting they appear to have no laces so I guess they were worn with gaiters or puttees?

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