Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Ben Nevis Part One.
OK, so Ben Nevis isn't the highest mountain in the world but it's the highest we've got in the UK so it will have to do. A mile and a half outside the town of Fort William there is a single track road that ends by the Ben Nevis Inn at the foot of the mountain. There is a small hostel and a croft directly opposite the pub and I have stayed in this croft a few times while hiking in the Scottish mountains.
The first time I climbed Ben Nevis I was surprised to see snow near the summit even though it was the middle of July. I was even more surprised by the clothing that some people were wearing as they climbed the mountain. Sandals, crocs, flip-flops and wellies were just some of the blister inducing footwear on show.
Now I've been hiking for several years now and whenever I walk I have proper boots, maps, compass, headlight and glow sticks in case I get stranded in the dark. First Aid kit, spare bootlaces and socks, enough water and food to last me, waterproof clothing, woolly hat and gloves and a 65 litre capacity rucksack with a maximum size dry bag to carry all this shit in. In short, I have become a walking snob and look down my nose at people less well prepared than myself. Forgetting that only a few years ago I was the one trying to climb a mountain in trainers and jeans with only a flask of tomato soup and a ham sandwich in a carrier bag.
The first time I went up Ben Nevis it was sunny at the foot of the mountain but I could see rain on the peaks to the west and knew the wind would blow it my way and started putting my waterproofs on before it arrived. I was getting funny looks from other people walking past and tried to warn them of the oncoming rain, a bit like that bloke in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers warning of the coming invasion but nobody listens. They just thought I was mad and carried on climbing in their shorts and t-shirts to their soggy fate.
Sure enough by the time I was at the summit I was surrounded by thick cloud and it was raining so heavily we may as well have been underwater.
When I eventually sloshed my way back down and got to the croft we got the log fire going and sat there drinking tea while clouds of steam rolled off us. Bliss.
Tune in next week to find out what happened when I went to the pub that night.