The climb up Ben Nevis was due to take place on Saturday 14th September but by Thursday before it was clear that weather conditions would not allow it so the decision was made to delay for 24 hours.
This meant that Chris Gould, his son ( from now on to be known as Sherpa Christian) and Dominic Hughes were unable to take part so on Sunday at 0830 a much smaller team of Chris Cox,
Paul Ablett (ex 2 R Anglian) and myself set off from the Ben Nevis Inn to attempt the climb. The weather was reasonable, slightly overcast but cool.
There are a lot of words that can be used to describe Nevis. Steep, boulders, crowded, hard etc. The word that Chris Cox came up with summed it up perfectly. Relentless. I think this was probably the most demanding physical activity I have done. Pen Y Fan, Slieve Donard and Snowdon all rolled into one and then some!
The path is clear. It is marked by boulders, endless boulders. Most of these are placed by man to protect the slope but they are mixed with natural boulders meaning that you are constantly adjusting the height that you have to step up. Stepping up boulders is much harder than just walking up a steep slope.
For the first three kilometres you climb to the 600m (1900 feet ish) mark on a relatively manageable slope (except for the boulders). Here there is a lake and the optimists call it the half way point. There is about a 200m plateau which lulls you into a false sense of security because then the really steep climb starts. No longer just boulders it becomes boulders and scree with the odd rare piece of real track.
Over the next 2.5 kilometres it climbs a further 600m over a series of zigzags before the track straightens and heads for the summit at 1345m (4413 feet).
Its easy to lose the track in the upper stretch and care has to be taken because of sheer drops to left and right.
It rained when we reached the summit and it was bitterly cold (windchill of -6). We got changed into our waterproof gear and started down the slope.
The sun came out.
The route down is the same as the ascent but takes almost as long, as you pick your way through the boulders.
3 and half hours up and 3 hours down were our timings.
I am glad that Chris and Paul were with me because there were several occasions when I would have pulled out had I been on my own but they silently and very gently cajoled me up and watched my wobbly legs on the way down.
A BIG thank you.
Next Scafell Pike on the 28th of September.
Anyone else fancy a stroll?
Have you donated to the museum fund yet?
This is our museum.
If all Old Comrades were to donate the cost of a Costa coffee that would raise a significant amount.
You can donate by paying into the following account: Sort Code: 30-11-75. Account: 01119674. Reference Hamilton Climb.
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