For many years I have had the notion of climbing Ben Nevis and in my younger years I had passed by almost weekly, it's towering mass more often topped by cloud tempting me towards it. For some reason she who must be obeyed had booked the last week of July for her holidays so I also booked the same days off too.
Now just what am I going to do to pass the time so I started looking at the weather forecast for the week ahead and as you know one thing leads to another and that notion re emerged so before I know it I am looking at mountain forecasts.
The next day was looking promising so I nipped out to stock up with some energy food stuff and dusted off the old boots which had not been used in years.
Thursday morning at 8am and I was in the Glen Nevis car park with the old boots firmly tied so off I went across the bridge. The first hour or so was easy enough, slowly and steadily going forwards and upwards.
Then I realised that things were getting a bit tougher, the steps in the staircase ahead were becoming a little more challenging but I was in no rush, on and on I went but I must confess that I was beginning to have doubts as I was becoming aware of a little bit of discomfort in one of my hips.
By now I was on the second last zig zag before the lochan and looking up at the hill across the stream I could just make out the figures forging ahead. Seeing the height they were at brought back those doubts but I had decided to try and get to the half way lochan, at least I would have done that much. It seemed as everybody else and his brother was passing me by in their rush to get to the summit and this was a bit of a knock to the confidence.
After I had rounded the last of the zig zag near the lochan I found the going a lot easier and I decided to carry on. Quite why I don't know but I wanted to finish, I had got half way so I felt that I could to do it, I had to reach the summit.
The painful zig zags
By now I was meeting people on their way back down and one young lad told me 2.5 hours. Lucky devil I thought. I wonder if he was entering for any of the hill races this summer? This stream of people heading south was slowing me down as I would move over and let them pass but I took a little rest to recharge before setting off again, any excuse for a break.
Anyway, I finally made it, it was just after one oclock and about five hours of relentless toiling. Time for a very welcome break take some photos and grab a bite to eat before the decent.
The first few hundred yards of the decent were fine then the knee started to rebel. This is where I found that the sticks were invaluable and by the time I had reached those dreadful zig zags below the loch I was almost putting my full weight on them. But I am a stubborn old git and struggled on finally reaching the car park at just before six pm.
I had done it but would I do it again? If I was a lot younger then yes but the fact that I am almost a senior citizen then no but it well worth it despite all the pain and discomfort. I am just glad that I did not become another statistic.
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