Sunday, 24 June 2012

Climb every mountain – Ben Nevis

(Drafted a few weeks ago and never posted.  This all went down on the middle weekend in May 2012)
{My colleagues in the group, our complete group, the view from the top}

I did it.  I climbed Ben Nevis.  I climbed the highest peak in the UK (1344m).  I climbed the last peak of the 3 peak challenge.  I climbed the mountain that well and truly defeated me in terrible conditions last year. And I never have to do it again.
{beginning, stopping at the waterfall, view coming back down the mountain, looking down the waterfall}

Spurred on by last years defeat and determined to make it to the top, Mother Nature playe along and blessed us with near perfect walking conditions (low teens, mostly clear, very little wind, no rain, hail or snow).  The views from the top were so worth the slog.  And a slog it was.  Near 7.5hours of walking to go up and back, stopping briefly for a snowball fight in the snow that graced the top quarter of the mountain.  Snow that at first brings a new energy and excitement but then a new level of tired.  Walking in knee deep snow is tough, especially when you’re essentially going vertical, using hands and feet to climb.

My mental state throughout was the same as every other time I’ve climbed a mountain.
  • The first five minutes– this is fun, wee, we’re climbing a mountain, yee ha, I love nature.
  • The rest of the ascent– why the fck are we doing this?  I hate ascents, I hate hills, I hate climbing, why do I always forget how much I hate it? I’m never doing it again.
  • On reaching the summit this is fcking awesome! The views! I did it! I did it! I did it! I summited, I made it! Go me! This is awesome! Let’s climb all the mountains.  ALL THE MOUNTAINS.
  • Coming down (the first part) – that was awesome.  This is so cool.  We did it. This is so easy compared to up.
  • Coming down (the last part) – are we there yet? My knees, yeouch.  It’s just around the bend, right? We’re nearly there. Are we?  Are we nearly there?
  • The finish – Is thirty too young for a hip replacement?  Is it dinner time yet?
This mountain was far tougher than the other two peaks I’d done (Snowdon and Scaffell Pike).  Not only is it’s higher but the trailhead is at sea level meaning the entire ascent is done on foot.  I’m heavier and unfitter than I was a year ago, significantly more so than two years ago so I did not make this climb easy on myself.

But you know what?  I did it.  I love that I did it.  I’m done.  And I’m so thankful for the friends I did it with.  Colleagues, ex colleagues, housemates, plus ones, a wonderful bunch of nine of us, some were strangers (now friends), some friends, all encouraging.  And I'm thankful for the loch side three course dinner we all enjoyed afterwards.  Good food never tastes as good as when you've really earned it.

We followed up the Saturday climb with a gentle 90minute ramble near Glenfinnan on Sunday, equally as stunning, before driving back to Glasgow and then flying home

Every trip I take to Scotland makes me fall further and further in love with the place.  Such a beautiful part of the world.


  1. Congratulations on climbing Ben Nevis! I can only imagine how awesome that must feel.
    These pictures are amazing, as always. I love hearing of your adventures!

  2. Thanks. I can't really pretend it was fun but it was worth it. Often the case, hey? I'm dreaming of coming to Canada now - lots of mountains there to climb!