Tuesday, 19th. July, 1977:
Having trekked north from Dalmally over Cruachan and Starav before tiptoeing along the boundary between the Clach Leathad massif and Rannoch Moor to the Kingshouse in terrible weather, my group of school mates and I had spent Monday tramping over the Devil's Staircase to Kinlochleven and then heading sweatily up in warm sunshine to camp at the east end of Loch Eilde Mor at the eastern end of the Mamores. The aim was to complete a circuit of these hills before heading off further north for the Grey Corries and the end of the trek in Roybridge. The day, therefore, began with us recounting our steps back to the western end of the loch and clambering slowly up the unforgivingly steep southern slopes of Na Gruagaichean. Probably because I was a bit dehydrated from the previous day and carrying too heavy a day sack, I found this desperate and was in a cold sweat by the time we reached the freezing, windy summit. From then on, things deteriorated and, sadly, I now look back on what should have been a terrific series of hills with little pleasure. The narrow switchback across to Binnein Mor should have been brilliant but low cloud, heavy rain and a driving wind seemed to cut through me like never before and, shaking with cold, I remember being grateful to lose height and head over towards Binnein Beag. The short climb up this relatively small pyramid winded me further and, although I enjoyed picking up the good stalkers' tracks to head south once we had descended, I was fit for nothing by the time we reached Coire an Lochain and our final ascent of the day onto Sgurr Eilde Mor. I remember it taking a massive effort of willpower to grind up to the top in my lowest gear - just about keeping pace with my friends - and then becoming warmer but light headed as we ran down the hill's grassy southern slopes.
I hadn't recognised the signs but, in retrospect, I was clearly suffering from the onset of hypothermia and, feeling groggy, I crawled into my sleeping bag and went to sleep with nothing to eat. Lesson learnt!
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