Ben Nevis and the Brass Monkey - an icy blast from the past
by 2manyYorkies » Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:15 pm
Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis
Date walked: 13/01/1979
Time taken: 10 hours
Distance: 11.3 km
Ascent: 1446m3 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I climbed Ben Nevis on January 13th 1979 with the St Andrews University Mountaineering Club, I've worked out that it must have been that day from the weather reports, which state that "At Carnwath (Strathclyde) the minimum of -24.6 degrees centigrade on the night of the 12th/13th was the lowest temperature recorded in the United Kingdom in any month since 1955 ...", and that, dear reader, was the night we bloody well camped in Glen Nevis next to the Youth Hostel, in crappy 1970's polyester sleeping bags etc.
Not a sodding wink was had by anyone.
For all the wrong reasons.
After a few hours we gave up and got up, snapped limbs into shape and trudged up the deep fresh snow to Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe (only going to type that once). The plan was to go round to the north face and go up one of the easier gully's. The depth of the snow, up to the waist at times, put paid to that plan, so we carried on along under the face, and then hacked our way Coire Leis on to the top end of the Carn Mor Dearg Arete, and then up to the summit. In retrospect we were incredibly lucky not to have triggered an avalanche given the conditions, but were too set on getting to the top not to give it a go, and got away with it.
We reached the summit sometime between 2pm and 3pm as far as I remember. The day was stunning, such clear views all round, and surprisingly warm in the full blast of the sun. Looking to the west though we could see the rolling cloud of a warm front moving in. Given the lateness of the hour we got going sharpish, glissaded straight down the middle of the zig-zags on the pony track (all was well under a couple of feet of snow) and were back at camp in the early dark.
As if that was not enough, we then walked into Fort William for fish n chips and beers. We got soaked in fresh snow, hogged the fire in the bar, much to locals disgust, and then did it all again to get back to the tents. By morning they were buried in fresh snow, the YH warden took pity and opened up the hostel to us where we spent the day and night as the blizzard raged. In the morning I decided to make a break and successfully hitched back to St Andrews, getting there for 2pm, thanks mainly to a slightly crazed North Sea oil rigger who had been ice climbing in the area and drove me from Glencoe to Dundee at an average of 80 mph, or so it felt.
If any of you have bothered to read this drivel, thanks for allowing me my nostalgic wallowing. Should anyone think they recognise themselves or others on the photos - check again in the morning when you're sober.....
by dogplodder » Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:13 pm
by rockhopper » Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:35 pm
by CharlesT » Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:58 pm
Still have my Simond Special D ice axe from then - probably worth a bit as an antique now.
by CharlesT » Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:35 am
by 2manyYorkies » Thu Aug 21, 2014 11:58 am
by Scoobica » Thu Aug 21, 2014 12:53 pm
The style, fashion, technology changes, assuming your have upgraded your camera and clothes since then of course.