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Breathless in Schiehallion

Breathless in Schiehallion

Postby mikew9 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:47 pm

Route description: Schiehallion

Munros included on this walk: Schiehallion

Date walked: 04/06/2012

Time taken: 5.5 hours

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Since my recent decison to take up "that hillwalking" as a regular thing I've been building up my fitness on some of the hills near home. Enjoyable walks in the Lomond Hills and the Ochils have got me a out a bit more and have got me fitter (it's all relative) and I have a bit more confidence to tackle something a wee bit bigger. So, when my youngest brother called me the other day and told me he'd been up Ben Lomond and fancied trying another walk I jumped at the chance. We agreed that we'd give Schiehallion a go feeling reasonably comfortable that this was within our competence. So we arranged to meet on the Bank holiday with the added bonus that we were escaping the blanket Jubilee coverage.
We reached the car park around 11:30am. It was busy so parking spaces were in short supply. It would have been easier if some people had been a bit more considerate in their parking. Rant over.

The path from the carpark is great so we were making good progress. I'm good on the flat and on the down bits so I was enjoying this section. It's the up bits where I struggle. We soon the hit the up bits so I started to struggle. Here's my problem. I don't like being out of breath. I find it very uncomfortable and so unnecessary. Under normal circumstances I avoid getting out of breath. This option doesn't seem to be available on the up bits so I get out of breath. My physiology is such that my "out of breath detector is wired directly to my "let's give up" receptor. This makes it difficult for me to make any progress when out of breath. I have seen a specialist about this and in their expert opinion I have a condition known as "Being a wimp". It's a cross I have to bear.

Anyway, I digress. Progress was slow on the up bits due to my condition and the discovery of various other aches and pains that were messing with my mind. My younger and fitter brother was showing great patience and was indulging me in my frequent stops as we climbed the hill. I consoled myself by enjoying the views and eating wine gums. Eventually we got to a position where I could see the summit so I dug deep and pushed myself for the last few metres. My feeling of elation was immediately replaced by a feeling of dejection when I realised the "summit" was the first of many summits we were to encounter on this walk. This Hillwalking is really quite a cruel pastime.
View from Rest Stop No. 17

Things did improve a bit as the next section wasn't quite so steep so progress was a bit better. Then the path stopped to be replaced by what I know as rubble. Time for a stop and a bite to eat while I got my head around what was to come. I knew from my planning that the final section of this walk was across rock but I didn't quite expect it to be like this. I was thinking gravel path rather than "there's just been an earthquake". After refeshments we started the rock walk. I had already been complaining about my back and my hip so this was not improving my state of mind.

A wee stroll across the gravel

We picked our way through the rocks to another false summit then spotted the real summit in the distance. "Oh, bother" I said (or words to that effect). It looked miles away and in my deteriorating physical and mental condition it looked like an impossible task. I was definitely going to give up and head back down. But then something strange happened. It was so small I almost missed it but I was somehow aware that a tiny little positive thought was germinating in my head. This was confusing me as I don't get many positive thoughts when I am in "Out of Breath" mode. I concentrated on the little thought and I examined it more closely. It was a memory and fairly recent one at that. I let it flow and my little memory told me something that changed my whole outlook. I remembered having similar giving up thoughts in my recent walks. West Lomond looks huge from a distance but it isn't. The climb up the grassy slope to Ben Ever in the Ochils doesn't go on forever it stops after a fairly short distance. I checked my GPSr. I only had 500m to go. I can walk 500m. I know I can walk 500m. I did walk 500m and I reached the summit. Not the false summit. The real summit. Now I really was elated. I didn't show it, of course, on account of being a man and there being other people around but I really was happy.
Summit 4 (The Real One)

The views were fantastic and we stayed around the summit for a while chatting to some other walkers and exploring. It was great.

After picking our way back through the rocks the walk back down was fairly uneventful. I'm good at the down bits and the flat bits so it was all nice and easy. If there are any hillwalks that are all downhill then I'm your man.

The easy bit - the way down.

So, what did I learn from this experience ? I am a moaning, whinging wimp. Nope. I knew that before I started. I'm not good when out of breath. Nope, knew that too. I learned that I can do this and each of these walking experiences is a building block that adds to my enjoyment. I learned that getting to the finish line is more important to me than getting to the finish line quickly. More importantly, I know that if I can do this once I can do it again and if I can do it so can most other people.

Flushed with success we are considering our next trip. I might be a bit more positive next time :D

I did that.
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Re: Breathless in Schiehallion

Postby Lenore » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:15 pm

Hilarious!!! :D :D
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Re: Breathless in Schiehallion

Postby laconic surf » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:19 pm

Brilliant account of what it's like in the beginning. False summits are a cruel mistress but you get used to them :D
Telling your body to go on when all it wants to do is give up has happened to most, if not all of us at some stage but you have now proved you can do it, it's no longer an excuse. Welcome to the addiction, your old life is over :lol:
Well done, now you just have to decide where to go next...
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Re: Breathless in Schiehallion

Postby redvark » Thu Jan 15, 2015 4:52 pm

3 times I've been up Schiehallion, and still those false summits get me !!
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Re: Breathless in Schiehallion

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:06 am

Sounds like me walking with my son - each time is the last :lol: :lol: Smashing report.
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Re: Breathless in Schiehallion

Postby JayMac1 » Wed May 27, 2015 3:47 pm

Well done, I hope you've conquered something else since, keep it up.
I'm heading up to Schiehallion with my wife and a couple of friends in a week or 2, I believe they also suffer from your "condition"
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Re: Breathless in Schiehallion

Postby Mal Grey » Wed May 27, 2015 5:24 pm

What a great report, reminding us just how it is sometimes when we're knakcered...and we've all been there!
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Re: Breathless in Schiehallion

Postby dav2930 » Wed May 27, 2015 10:04 pm

What a wonderfully entertaining and candid report. I still suffer from the same 'condition' at times - it's all in the mind really. Schiehallion was a great choice for one of your first Munros and I'm sure you'll be knocking them off regularly from now on! Good luck.
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Re: Breathless in Schiehallion

Postby Manders91 » Wed May 10, 2017 9:48 pm

Loved this report! Hilarious, sounded exactly like me on the hills today, nothing beats a good whinge over false summits! :lol:
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