Rising at 6am after about 2 or 3 hrs sleep for most (mainly down to a variety of tunes played out on the snore box) we found Jim had gone missing, eventually found sleeping in the minibus. Along with contending with the snoring there had been some seriously torrential rain in the night but the tent supplied courtesy of our workmate Phil Clarke held up admirably and so began what was to turn out to be a long wet day.
Looking at the hills and seeing the cloud cover as low as 500m a lot of people would have just went back to bed, but we had a mission and a challenge, we had to atleast try to summit Ben Nevis for our charity Prostate Cancer UK as much as for ourselves . So after packing away the tent and ablutions etc we set off. We set off in the rain.
As it turns out raining was to be the theme of the day, we pushed on and so did the rain. Pretty quickly
into the day Alex was struggling, nursing a "hernia" (we are not yet sure yet what his pain is caused by)
he had had for a few days the excess pressure of carrying a pack and climbing a feckin large mountain
was taking it's toll but he soldiered on.
As we approached the falls which mark the official halfway point (having walked past the halfway
lochan without noticing it until the cloud shifted) we were receiving reports of "it's really bad up there",
"visibility is zero" etc etc. A quick conference and there was really only ever going to be one decision and
yes we continued, into the grey unknown.
At around the 1000m mark, about 2/3rds of the way and it was getting seriously tough on Alex, his pace was slowing and the stops more frequent, Ritchie was ready to make the decision to stop him at that point and send a party ahead to summit, Alex was having none of it "I have not come this far to stop now" and so another quick decision was taken, Ritchie would carry on with Alex and the rest could push ahead and summit and we would review again when we met with the summit party on the way down.
Jim, James, John, Kenny and Phil pushed ahead, on reaching the summit the plan to pipe the party to the top was abandoned, the pipes were soaked and untuneable and the pipers were soaked through and frozen. They did have a go at playing a tune at the summit but alas it was just too bad at 1345 metres.
Meanwhile Ritchie and Alex were still pushing on to the top albeit at a slow pace and they met the others within striking distance of the summit, they were not stopping now. James stepped up and offered to return to the
summit with Ritchie and Alex and so became the only member of the team to reach the top of Ben Nevis twice in one day. The remainder headed back down as hanging around would have been too hard on them with the conditions.
Not long after and Alex had done it, he had achieved his goal and he had climbed the highest mountain in the United Kingdom, the Mountain Men had all made the summit and had done so in atrocious conditions, James had done it twice. At the top James headed down alone, catching up with and passing Kenny on way until he realised who it was and they teamed up once again. Ritchie and Alex made their way down at a more sedate pace, actually it took almost as long to get back down as it took to get up but eventually after almost 12 hours on the mountain they did it, the "mountain men" had completed their challenge and could head home, tired, wet, hungry and bursting with pride.
Altogether it was a tough day, it was certainly a wet day but it was a great day and on the journey home when Ritchie asked if everyone had enjoyed it to a man they all agreed it was a brilliant weekend.
Now I would like to finish this report by adding we had planned for this for 6 months, taking on hills such as Ben A'an, Grey Mares Tail and Ben Lomond beforehand. We went up in atrocious conditions in the knowledge we had all the equipment needed in the event we had an emergency situation, we also passed people in shorts and trainers. These mountains are a beautiful wonderful experience but are still mountains in Scotland and need respect, please before you go up consider the conditions, consider how quickly those conditions can change and consider if you are prepared for such a change, you may and probably will get away with it but more than 1 of you reading this may come into serious difficulties.
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