Munros: Ben Nevis
Date walked: 31/08/2013
Time taken: 7 hours
So this is my first time in Scotland and it was to be a whirlwind visit, with one goal. To climb Ben Nevis.
I had planned it all well, made sure I was well equipped.
Sadly plans never go to plan and I got requested (ordered) to work the night shifts rather than have the week off that was planned. So as it turned out I did a night shift on Thursday, finished work at 0600hrs and the road trip began. 8 1/2 hours later and I am at the Hotel. A lovely if not a little antiquated in its running hotel at North Ballachulish, The Alltshellach. The view from the room was nice if not a little wet.
I had a quick look around Fort William but decided that food and bed was required.
Checking the weather before bed wasn't a good read. I was looking at a cloud base of 950ft with winds of 40mph and a -9C windchill. Quite simply... bugger!
The CMD route was not looking like it wasn't going to be doable for my first foray into the Munros I didn't want to be putting myself or anyone else in danger especially as I would be traveling alone. I decided that my goal was to summit Ben Nevis and if i had to change the planned route to achieve the goal then I had to. The 'Tourist' route it would be.
I woke at about 0700hrs and grabbed some cereal as it was too early for a cooked brekkie, and hit the road. Parked up in a wet and quite crowded Visitor Centre Car Park, kitted up and hit the track.
Now here is a moment for why you use maps and don't follow the crowd. I had a map, compass and GPS with spare batteries etc but on arriving and looking dead ahead at the biggest mountain the others were shrouded in cloud so it was the biggest mountain in view at the time. Looking up the track I thought OK, it's big but not as bad as I had thought.
I set off up the track passing people as I went feeling good working up a sweat. I'm a big lad my engine runs warm, especially when wrapped up in wet weathers. The Berghaus trousers were fantastic kept me dry and were very breathable, the Mountain Hardware jacket kept me dry on the outside but not so good on the breath-ability front. However I still vastly dryer and warmer than had I not had it.
It first three Km were tough going through the rain, and the large blocks to step up and I could feel my thighs burning from the start. This didn't bode well but ho hum. As I rounded the left where people cut straight across and up to the waterfall I had my horrid moment of realisation. I'm not actually on Ben Nevis at the moment the cloud cleared to the right and OMG that's 'The Ben' many small foul words mentally uttered I trudged on. The first little bit of my soul being eaten. However I plodded on and and once onto the Zig Zags I was gassing out quite a bit, It most definitely is pre-season(Rugby) and I most definitely have been drinking (alchy) too much recently. I am never one to quit so pushed on through a hoard of ill prepared charity walkers. In Ugg Boots, Skinny Jeans, Handbag and little leather jacket. Etc I'm sure you can imagine. At one point I heard a guide say to his group this is Corner Two there are Nine in total. Number Three has the longest stretch. I am still not sure if that spurred me or it was the second little bit out of my soul. I was now breathing very heavily and anyone who passed me asked if I was ok. I clearly looks like and RAF Rescue candidate. Hell no. The engine is ropey and the timing is out but reliable if a little leaky.
Having rounded the ninth corner I had forgotten how far it was still to the top. I am not gonna lie I was getting a little bit tetchy now and my left hamstring was definitely twinging a bit. But still I trudged on. The last little bit of soul being eaten with each step. Doing this walk alone without anyone to encourage me or me to take my mind of it by encouraging them paired with just finishing night shifts etc. I wasn't feeling fresh at all.
Finally I got there and got a "wow you made it" from someone. I smiled but inwardly thought 1) Dan you must look like a pile of poop 2) cheeky bastard. 4hrs 15mins
Took the mandatory summit pic first as a selfy on my phone just to make sure that I had a pic with a GPS marker on it. You can see the elation in my face of actually getting up there.
Then asked someone else to take a couple of snaps for me with a little camera. In the cold Smart phones were turning themselves of in less than a minute.
and slightly more composed now
Apparently one guide said it was about -2 with wind chill down to -11. To be fair it didn't feel that cold to me... but it WAS cold and I was cold. I was wearing two base layer tops, t shirt and wet weather jacket (fleece in my bag if required but I wasn't hanging around long enough to require the extra exposure of changing into it)
On the way down I made good time, pausing for a pic when the cloud parted. Sadly I was too slow to get my pack off my back and get the camera and get it out the camera case in the gloves i was wearing omg the cloud is coming, quick dan quick oh FFS you slow......... was how the inner monologue was running.
and a little further down whilst on the top zig-zags
The up kills my lungs, but good strong kickboxing and rugby thighs are fine with the down and didn't stop until just before the last three Km where it starts to get sludgy and the step downs get bigger and harder on the legs and knees. Plimsole boy slipped in front of me and Ugg girl straight after. Clearly they have made it to the top and are on their way back down but really, IT'S A MOUNTAIN DRESS APPROPRIATELY screamed through my head but again I kept it as inner monologue rather than vocalising it. Bits of the down I jogged and managed it in 2hours for myself it was target achieved. Time for can of red bull and a cigar.
On a side note, I used far more liquid even on a cold wet day than I had anticipated (3l of water and 2 small lucozade sport bottles)and at the summit I ran out, on the way back I filled up two small bottles with mountain stream water. So far no ill effects but I decided better to risk the squits and make it down than to keel over from dehydration, (back to that leaky engine again) I can vouch for the water in it's taste, it tasted like good spring water as for purity I don't know so can't endorse using this method and i certainly wouldn't have done further down the mountain where all the sheep were.
Back to the hotel and thankfully for a cheapy hotel it had a pool and more importantly a spa/jacuzzi just peel the covers and relax. (plus the bar didnt open until 1800hrs)
After 1800hrs I used plenty of liquid pain killer to aid my starting to achy legs and chat with a lucky German/American who had fallen over a 20ft cliff/sharp drop on Skye that day. Lucky in the sense that he bounced didn't damage himself or his camera gear other than some nasty cuts and bruises. He was also on the liquid pain killer and a bit elated that he was in the hotel and not on the side of remote mountain.
Drove home Sunday morning got stuck in the end of holiday traffic 14 and a half **beep** hours.
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- Activity: Ambler
- Pub: Park Tavern, Chichester.
- Mountain: The next one I climb
- Place: Not been yet a week to go
- Gear: My Boots
- Member: I am not a member of any groups.
- Ideal day out: I am still kinda new to this rambling/scrambling stuff. Being a Martial Artist and a Rugby player I like things on the slightly scary side, but am by no means a climber. Scrambling is OK though as I get more to grips with my own abilities and knowing my limitations
- Munros: 1
- Hewitts: 1
- Filter reports
- Trips: 1
- Distance: 16 km
- Ascent: 1480m
- Munros: 1
- Joined: Aug 22, 2013
- Last visited: Mar 21, 2014
- Total posts: 6 | Search posts