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.

26 comments:

Padded Cell Princess said...

Helicopter Heroes could probably still run their regular show just off of Ben Nevis rescues! I never got that far north but I hear it's pretty amazing up there...in between dramatic weather changes ;)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

You sound like me and my husband when we hike in the Canadian Rocky Mountains) (we live near Banff Alberta). It's amazing how under prepared a lot of hikers are (in the same clothing you described). And the weather in our mountains can turn nasty fast.

The Angry Lurker said...

Damn well prepared and rightly so mate.

Tony Van Helsing said...

Princess: You wouldn't believe how many people die up there a year.

Stina: I would love to visit the Rockies. I'd be worried about bears though.

Rob Z Tobor said...

I have been in Fort William many times. But I always think it is better just to head due west for a couple of hours from there.

Jax said...

This was very intersesting to read considering that I've never gone hiking before. You carry all that crap along with you? Oh my!! How heavy is it all??

Creepy Query Girl said...

I'd forgotten how much I love hiking until...today actually! Its funny but the hubs took us to Fontainbleau forest for the first time with the kids today and we did a 1&1/2 hour trail with them. Just the fresh and and scenery was a welcomed change!

Pat Hatt said...

You sure are a regular boyscout. I'd take much with me too, crazy how some people just walk in flip flops and such.

YeamieWaffles said...

Hiking sounds like a lot of fun to me buddy, people who walk in other shoes are just stupid, boots all the way is what I say. Thanks for the comment on the NEXT thing too buddy, you're so right that it's better for my self confidence, I'm going to apply.

altadenahiker said...

This is how I've always pictured Yorkshire. Am I right, or is it in Wales or something. Never mind, I'll google. (I backpack in tennies. I can't tell what the earth is up to when I wear hiking boots.)

Azra said...

Ok, so now I know who to take with the next time I decide to climb up a mountain :)

Sounds like a great experience.

Tony Van Helsing said...

Lurker: I was in the Cub Scouts, 'Be Prepared' was our motto.

Rob: If you went west for a couple of hours from Fort William wouldn't you be in the sea?

Jax: No more than 20lbs to be honest.

Creepy: Where is Fountainbleau? It sounds magical.

PAt: I was in the Cub Scouts and Boys Brigade.

Matthew: Good man, NEXT might give you discount on clothes. My wife buys loads from there.

Alta: The photo was taken on the tourist path up Ben Nevis, the valley in the background is part of Glen Nevis.

Azra: You'll be safe with me.

Craziness abounds said...

You're a hiking snob lol! Love it! i used to do that stuff to. Now my poor husband has to guide me around every little hole in the ground, stick and rock. Poor guy. I guess he could pack me down with all the stuff like a pack mule. Seems like a fair exchange. :)

Baur said...

Sounds likes loads of fun I'm going backpacking soon also!

Janie Junebug said...

I don't think I'm meant for mountain climbing, but I may well be meant for pubs.

Love,
Lola

Craziness abounds said...

I have you an award today. You don't have to accept but i thought it would be fun for others to find out about your blog. :)

Paige Kellerman said...

LOL...I'd be one of those idiots in tennis shoes, dragging a lone ham sandwich along.

Bart said...

deadpools superhuman powers include: regenerative powers, marksmanship, and knowing hes in a comic. i think thats called breaking the 4th wall or something like

Deus Ex Machina said...

Come pick me up at 7. I'll be ready. I want to climb mountains with you. Can I climb in my Vibrams? I'm pretty strong, you know.

Tony Van Helsing said...

Deus: You know what Vibrams are therefore I am all yours. Use me as you will.

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Baur said...

I'm going backpacking soon cant wait

Nathan said...

Man, I don't think I could ever do that. Good job.

Juliette said...

I first climbed Ben Nevis when I was 9 years old and my parents made me do it in plastic sandals. How sweet. My Dad then buggered off during a hike up Cairngorms and my Mother and I had to get rescued. I have no concept of adequate footwear or survival instincts because of this!

Workingdan said...

I would love to go hiking in the mountains...if only I had a mountain!

Amy said...

It looks beautiful!