It's something that I've been meaning to do for a while. With every mountain climb I've done, I've always said Ben Nevis will be ticked off the list soon. An amazing day, but the legs definitely suffered the day after.
Setting the scene, we were wide awake at 5:30am to get started after staying in our beautiful Shepherds Hut we had booked nearby. If you're at all interested in visiting the area, I cannot recommend the Riverside Bothy enough - it was simply incredible. A simple google search for 'Riverside Bothy' will show you - amazing.
After a quick breakfast, we grabbed our gear and were off. Arriving at the foot of the mountain by 6:45am. The initial climb was relatively steep, but nothing that can't be handled by most. The path was very clear, so that definitely helped - I'm not one for straying off the walking path (at least not on purpose).
IMG_20190708_064434 by Sean Gordon, on Flickr
IMG_20190708_065538 by Sean Gordon, on Flickr
I was warned about getting caught in the 'snail trail' but luckily, we were alone for the vast majority of the climb. I believe we passed 15 other climbers the entire journey.
With the path being that clear, almost the entire way up, we quickly made progress, climbing faster than anticipated. After some research prior to the trip, we estimated it would take around 7-8 hours to summit, and back down, but it seemed we would take less time.
After bending round the hill we were on (and foolishly thinking it wasn't too strenuous), in the distance, we saw the actual mountain we'd be climbing. Despite the quick second to accept it, it didn't discourage us, and we carried out.
IMG_20190708_074040 by Sean Gordon, on Flickr
Around 1 hour and 30 minutes, we reached the point of the 'half way loch. I was on the lookout for it, as I had read on the map that it was a point to stop and rest, but we almost stumbled upon it after reaching a certain height - and we weren't too tired, so we continued onto the 'true' halfway point, which is the waterfall. At which point we did stop to catch our breath and have some lunch (at 8:30am haha).
IMG_20190708_081048 by Sean Gordon, on Flickr
IMG_20190708_082149 by Sean Gordon, on Flickr
15 minutes later, we set off again hoping the second half would be as straightforward as the first - we were wrong. The path was still very clear, but rocky. I do believe that without the right footwear, people would struggle, but also hurt themselves. It's definitely not a level path. Although, there were sections that had been built into steps, which was a welcomed site after dealing with loose rocks.
IMG_20190708_084414 by Sean Gordon, on Flickr
I wish I could say that beyond this point was easy and not too tiring, but if I'm honest, it was a bit exhausting. Breaks were taken more frequently to catch our breath and give the legs a rest. But after the seemingly never-ending climb, the feeling of seeing the summit on almost flat ground was amazing. The sense of achievement was something that I believe everyone feels climbing it. No wonder people aim at Everest - that feeling would be inconceivable.
IMG_20190708_101858 by Sean Gordon, on Flickr
At a total time of 3 hours 43 minutes to reach the summit, I was pleased with that. Truth be told, it wasn't about the time, but rather about the climb. (I'm sorry - I swear I didn't mean to make it rhyme!). The obligatory photos were taken at the top, along with a lengthy break for some food and water before heading back down.
IMG_20190708_103805 by Sean Gordon, on Flickr
IMG_20190708_102454 by Sean Gordon, on Flickr
IMG_20190708_102639 by Sean Gordon, on Flickr
Although, she was super happy at reaching the top, Anne-Marie wasted no time in telling me that "we're never doing this again" haha. She might be right. It's put my ambitions of hiking Machu Picchu into perspective!
The summit features several cliff edges, so I really tried not to get too close - but me being a bit annoying, I had to try and look over the edge. It's pretty terrifying. I presumed the cliff would come from half way up the mountain, but no. It's a straight drop to the bottom it seemed. Not something I want to toy with, so 6 feet back from the edge is fine.
IMG_20190708_103259 by Sean Gordon, on Flickr
Overall, a tremendous day, despite my legs still hurting. But we were lucky with several aspects - the mountain was very quiet, with only around 20 people at the summit whilst we were there. The weather was brilliant. We were aware that heavy rain was scheduled, but fortunately it held off until the next day - phew! Even the sunshine wasn't unbearable - a hot day, a sunny day, but enough clouds to give us a break from time to time.
I'm not sure if I'd do it again though, at least not in a hurry. It was a brilliant feeling reaching the top, but super tiring. But I can say I've done it now, and I couldn't be more pleased.
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