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Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!


Postby dogplodder » Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:41 pm

Route description: Ben Nevis by the Mountain Path

Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis

Date walked: 21/07/2008

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As a breed, labradors suffer from their own popularity. Lured by images of adorable Andrex puppies, people take home a cute fluff ball and are unprepared for the adolescent hooligan it turns into. The result is an ever increasing number of homeless labs - which is where Labrador Rescue comes in.

Our two dogs came from Labrador Rescue in the NW of England and when the organisers heard I liked hill walking they asked if the dogs could do a sponsored climb to raise funds for Rescue. I agreed and since I hadn't yet got round to climbing it, suggested Ben Nevis (also figured folk down south would have heard of it) on the condition the dogs would work up to it gradually. So for months before the big day we did a series of 'training climbs', gradually exposing them to longer routes and rougher terrain to build up stamina and toughness of feet.

Ben Nevis from Sgurr a' Mhaim
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The day of the sponsored climb dawned and we left early to drive down the Great Glen. It was a gorgeous day and our first sight of the Ben made our hearts leap - it was perfectly clear. So many times I've seen it shrouded in cloud - but not today!

Our first sight of the Ben from A82
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We parked by the Ben Nevis Inn at Achintee and headed up the excellent path, with dogs on lead as requested on the sign at the gate.

Raring to go!
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The morning sun was bright but we were in the shade which kept us cool for the first part of the climb
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Western Mamores in sunshine
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Below us in Glen Nevis we could see a yellow chopper flying between the glen and higher up. We wondered what it was doing as it seemed early in the day to be looking for someone in difficulty. It wasn't long before we found out.

Distinctive shape of Stob Ban across the glen
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The path winds up the side of the hill climbing above the gully of the Red Burn towards Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, known as 'half-way lochan'.

Mullach nan Coirean across Glen Nevis from above the Red Burn
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The path flattens out before the lochan giving easy walking before the steeper zig zag section to come. It made sense to have the dogs on lead as young dogs exhilerated with the smells of the hill would have been racing around and I wanted to conserve their energy for the climb ahead.

Well kept path
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It was at this point we discovered what the helicopter was up to. It was ferrying maintenance workers up to work on the path - and a great job they were doing too.

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At the lochan the path turns right for the so called tourist path and left for the path that goes below the north face and up via the Carn Mor Dearg arete, which we knew to be the more scenic and satisfying route. I'm confident the dogs would have managed the arete but there was no question in our minds, for today we were taking the easier option. So we took the right turn and headed over the Red Burn and up towards the zig zags.

Jack and half-way lochan
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It was a glorious day and we were starting to feel the heat
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On the zig zags Jack was happy to provide a bit of dog power
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About this point my son Doug and his wife Sarah caught up. They had left a bit later than us and the plan was, being young and fit, they would soon close the gap, which they did. So we stopped for a snack.

Perched above Fort William
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Would someone tell her dogs are supposed to eat meat not carrots!
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The terrain towards the top is lunar in appearance and the rock abrasive. I'd been concerned about the effects on the dogs' pads but so far they were coping well. It seemed that all the training had paid off.

Jack and Tess nearing the top of their sponsored climb
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First sight of the summit cairn
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Waiting our turn on the summit mound
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Dogs seemed to have some sense of the significance of the occasion
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At the time I thought this was my 103rd Munro but later found out that 3 of my 'Munros' had been demoted since I did them. So quite by accident this was my 100th!

View from top
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A few weeks earlier I'd had a certain big O birthday and unknown to me Moira had carried up two tiny only slightly squished fruit cakes to mark the occasion.

(Next 4 pics are Moira's)

No prizes for knowing how old I am then!
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And right on cue the music started. Three 'extreme cellists' were climbing the three highest peaks to raise funds for a spinal injuries charity and they just happened to be here today. They serenaded us with all the mountain-related pieces they could think of and a large crowd gathered round. I'm told the top of the Ben is usually busy in summer but I think the day we were there it was exceptionally so, even on a Monday.

Extreme cellists
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We sat up there basking in the sun for about an hour and a half - enjoying the music, the views and the birthday cake, while the dogs had a snooze. What a day it had turned out to be!

Out for the count
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Ready for the descent
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In poor visibility the descent can be hazardous and there have been fatalities with folk wandering into Five Finger Gully. On a day like this there would be no problem, but with snow potentially covering the top for half the year good navigation is vital and a series of well built cairns help to keep folk on track.

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We walked down a good part of the way with the cellists, hearing their stories as we went. It was a straightforward descent, only spoiled for me by a protesting right knee which by the time we reached the lochan was screaming at me to stop. My daughter in law is a physio so she passed on some useful advice - that wearing a knee support seems to be a placebo that works and it helps to lead with the bad leg when going downhill. The only other negative memory I have of that day was the way certain folk barged you off the path in their determination to get right of way. That was not pleasant and not something I've come across on any other hill.

As I limped down the lower half of the hill I thought about my dad. As a 14 year old in 1936 he spent his summer holiday working as 'boots boy' at the Onich Hotel and on one of his days off took the bus to Fort William so he could climb the Ben. He told me he took a bar of chocolate with him and ran most of the way to make sure he caught the bus back. He made it - but it's not exactly what we'd be recommending for a 14 year old on his own nowadays! Next week it will be two years since we lost him but I still miss his kindness and warm smile like it was yesterday.

Doug had gone on to book a table at the Inn, which he did for 6.30, which was a good guess as Moira and I arrived back at the car at 6.15. I fed the dogs and we didn't hear a sound from them until we got home. The next day they were up as usual, bright eyed and bushy-tailed and not a hint of stiffness - obviously none the worse for their adventure.
Last edited by dogplodder on Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby mrssanta » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:04 pm

great stuff as always. I'm impressed at those folks carrying cellos all the way up - a cello case is pretty heavy and awkward.
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:38 pm

Another great report - lots of admiration for the cellists that's a heavy instrument to lug up the Ban :lol: Great way to celebrate your 60th too!
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby dogplodder » Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:58 pm

mrssanta wrote:great stuff as always. I'm impressed at those folks carrying cellos all the way up - a cello case is pretty heavy and awkward.


They had a support team so shared the carrying - but even so it was impressive. They had a tight time frame in which to do the three peaks. :D
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby dogplodder » Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:02 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Another great report - lots of admiration for the cellists that's a heavy instrument to lug up the Ban :lol: Great way to celebrate your 60th too!


It was a great day! :D

Fancy a a joint walk for the 4 mutts..... sometime in 2014? :lol:
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Thu Jan 23, 2014 10:47 pm

dogplodder wrote:
Huff_n_Puff wrote:Another great report - lots of admiration for the cellists that's a heavy instrument to lug up the Ban :lol: Great way to celebrate your 60th too!


It was a great day! :D

Fancy a a joint walk for the 4 mutts..... sometime in 2014? :lol:


You bet - when? :clap:
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby weebirdie » Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:29 pm

Loved reading this, what a perfect day!
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby dogplodder » Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:46 pm

weebirdie wrote:Loved reading this, what a perfect day!


Thanks WB - it was a very special day. :D
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby shredder » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:03 pm

Well done those dogs. :clap:

Rare to see the top free of snow, ice or cloud - but you didn't escape the crowds though! :wink:
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby Sarah86 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:45 pm

What a great set of photos, I haven't read many Ben Nevis reports with clear views! A wonderful treat to have live music at the top.
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby dogplodder » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:43 pm

shredder wrote:Well done those dogs. :clap:

Rare to see the top free of snow, ice or cloud - but you didn't escape the crowds though! :wink:


For solitude you'd have to choose a very different hill. 8)
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby dogplodder » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:44 pm

Sarah86 wrote:What a great set of photos, I haven't read many Ben Nevis reports with clear views! A wonderful treat to have live music at the top.


Yes that was a bonus. :D
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby dogplodder » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:44 pm

The Ben - 6 years almost to the day later. :shifty:

From Aonach Mor
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From Aonach Beag
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby Beaner001 » Thu Oct 23, 2014 2:07 pm

Well done, what a lovely gesture to do it for the charity you got your faithful hounds from in the first place :clap:
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Re: Dogs climb Ben Nevis to find cellists playing at top!

Postby dawnfoth » Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:40 pm

Wow! I really enjoyed reading this! What a story! Dogs raising money for charity, a 60th birthday and what would you know a wee treat on the summit with the Cellists! Fabbydoo! I've yet to climb Ben Nevis and will do via the arête, but you've really started to whet my appetite for it - thanks and well done (albeit a few moons ago :D )

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