Whoops – I completely forgot to tell anyone outside of work that I was going away for Easter, off up to Scotland again for another crack at climbing Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, near the town of Fort William.
As per usual, I stopped in the handy Glen Nevis campsite/caravan park at the foot of the mountains after driving up there through the night. My reasoning is that it’s easier to get a good spot if you arrive early, and as they open at 8am, I should be there.. well earlyish. In fact I got there at 7am and just mooched about for an hour.
Friday (Bank Holiday no.1) was spent getting set up and doing a bit of shopping as well as keeping one eye on the weather – a largely pointless task since one can have bright sunshine one moment and pouring rain the next. Such is the weather in the glen. It was mainly dry, and it was looking good.
Saturday I went up. I started out at 7am on the grounds that I knew it would take me ages. I’m 36 and three stone overweight so I wasn’t exactly going to sprint up the mountain. As it was, someone had already started out ahead of me and I could see him a few turns further on. This year I used the bridge near Cafe Beag, rather than the one at the Visitor’s Centre, since it was closer to the camp and a shorter climb, albeit a steeper one. Still, my legs were fresh, right?
My failed attempt from last Easter at least prepared me for the day’s festivities and I took a lot less weight with me this time. I had two pints of water, a honking great block of Fruit & Nut, emergency blankets and my mobile phone, with camera. I probably carried one third of the crap I had previously, and with my newly-purchased hiking pole (the vertical one, right) I made pretty good progress for a fat fella.
Some time around 1pm I got to the top with the help of a mad Scotsman called Bob who decided to cheer me on every step of the way up – effectively preventing me from dropping out from pure shame. Bob was taking some photos of the route up for a bunch of guys in Milton Keynes (“I’ll nip up at the weekend and take a few snaps for you!” – as you do). It was a hard slog but I got there in the end, and Bob took a photo to mark the occasion. Hopefully I spelled my email address correctly and it’ll be in my inbox before long.
Coming down I.. uh.. actually I fell asleep on a bit of ground that was less rocky than most parts, and only woke up when some young lady shook me to ask if I was alright. I think I did pretty much the same thing last year as well.
Sunday was a day full of pain and stiffness. My calf and thigh muscles feel like they’re made out of wood, and are driving splinters into my nerves whenever I try to do something complicated like stand up, or sit down. I spent most of Sunday drinkin cups of tea and reading ‘The Skin Gods’ by Richard Montanari, which wasn’t a bad way to spend a day when all’s said and done. The rescue helicopter was out in the afternoon, plucking people from the lower slopes.
Today, Monday, (Bank Holiday no.2) is still pretty bad, even after soaking in a nice hot bath for an hour and then having a shower on top of that, but I can move a little bit. I think I’ll take the lift at the office tomorrow, all the same.
Originally Posted: 9th April 2007