Ben Nevis

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You have climbed 93/282 munros.

It was a mad idea... a very mad idea. Who thought up that one then?! Ben Lawers was dropped for Ben Nevis. Nancy was to be our guide as she's been up many times. "Crampons & ice axe? Nooo!" she said. I had them with me anyway. And I had my Microspikes to stick on Carin's boots should the need arise. I warned Carin it was going to be a very long day. Don't think she fully understood quite how tiring it was going to be...

10am saw us parked at the Glen Nevis YH, as Nancy was going to stay there that night we asked if we could leave two cars during the day. It was fine. Thanks guys!

On our way

We toiled our way up. I had warned Nancy, whom Carin and I dubbed 'The Mountain Goat', that I would be slow, I don't hurry. Nancy pulled away from us and stopped for us to catch up, and complained she was cold waiting. In the end she left us to head on up. I stuck with Carin, I'd said I would get her up a Munro and I aimed to do that if it was at all possible and safe. And anyway, I wasn't much faster at climbing up.

Crossing the red burn was interesting, with a very steep almost vertical drop on one side of a path little more than a boot width across for 10 - 15feet or so. The coire had obviously avalanched at some point as the debris was clearly visible.

Carin above the half-way lochan, with the views opening up

The way up, on the zig zags

Still a loong way to go! Carin doing really well

I was such a hard task master to Carin. I kept reminding her just to put one foot in front of the other. Didn't matter how slowly, just keep doing it!

...and she did

There was no sign of Nancy any more. I guess she didn't have anything else to put on to keep warm whilst we plodded on up.

Are we there yet?

Tired but head down, still going...

We had cloud envelope us a few times. As we got to the line of Cairns a very large bird swooped down round from in front of us to the path behind, probably no more than 20feet away. Then the cloud rolled in again. Shades of browns and a fan tail is all I saw in the mist. Then another slightly further away. Did we just see eagles?! They weren't buzzards. I saw a buzzard up close before, and a couple of days later. They weren't buzzards. Whatever they were it was fantastic. A large bird of prey so close!

The summit plateau in sight!

Carin didn't think she would make it, her hips were hurting, she urged me to carry on whilst she sat by a cairn. I felt guilty about leaving her and rushed on as fast as I could, she actually carried on just a little slower than before. But steadily.

Just Wow!

And yes... with the cloud boiling behind her, Carin on the plateau! Cool or what!

Don't think she can quite believe it

Top of the world!

Me

Walking boots with crampons are no match for vertical ice and snow, even when a handy climber gave me another axe to use.

The views from the summit were just.... well, I managed not to take any photos of the views. You'll just have to go and see for yourself. I don't think any words can describe....

We had a long way to get home and I didn't want to be still on the zig zags in the dark even though I had a couple of head torches.

We actually made good progress. Took it carefully. We shortcut the zig zags alongside red burn until it was too steep to be comfortable. Traversing across I found some deep soft snow I didn't like at all. We found some rocks to pause by and look at the surroundings. Footsteps across towards the zig zags pointed at a safer traverse so we carefully followed them and headed away from the coire. Many more tracks had continued downwards! I didn't fancy following them any more than Carin.

The light fading gradually, still good views

Not the best of photos

Getting there, as the sun sinks

Cheesy grin time. Nearly home!

So it was on with the head torches and plod away down. Carin didn't think we were making progress. The hostel lights seemed to stay exactly where they were. I knew we were getting there, slowly, but safely. We'd make it fine. Head torches were good. The little e-lite I carry for back-up/emergencies was brilliant and well worth the extra few grammes.

We wandered into the hostel around 7pm to be greeted by the warden asking if I was Elizabeth as Nancy wanted her belongings that she'd left in my car! He also told us that Nancy had been to hospital to have her knee checked out as it was sore and swollen. Ah well I thought, Carin would ache for a few days, and I'll be stiff the next day at least, but.... Well, my neoprene knee support thing had been good. I tightened it up quite a bit at some point on the way down and it worked really well. I ached, but nothing untoward. The warden also phoned Fiona at Crianlarich hostel for me just to tell her that we were all accounted for and down from the mountain safe. I'd filled in a route card that morning and given the time it had taken it seemed like a good idea just to confirm with her. I phoned Paul too so he didn't worry.

Top of the World eh?... Yeah!

Tags: munro, outdoor, scotland, walkabout 2010 Written 10/03/10 

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