On the 17th of August, a group of us climbed the UK’s highest mountain – Ben Nevis; standing at 1,345 metres above sea level. We’ve climbed Goatfell, Ben Lomond and other hills, so were confident of getting to the top of Ben Nevis, but as an extra motivator we decided to raise funds for West FM Cash for Kids!
I drove through the Highlands to Fort William the day before and we set up one of the tents at the bottom of Ben Nevis. After a freezing night in a tent, the five of us all got ready and made it to the starting point at 9:15am. The weather as expected was pretty dull and rainy, but we had prepared for that and started our ascension up Ben Nevis. It was so busy; people going up and down the whole day! The first part of the hill was quite steep and rocky. It did take it out of me especially; had to rest and stop a few times. Really need to shed the pounds the next time I attempt something like this. I ended up just wearing my t-shirt and thin waterproof jacket as I got too warm even though the weather was freezing.
We got to the loch which was almost half way up the mountain. We thought it would be good detour to have our lunch, but as soon as we stopped the wind and rain instantly got worse. Was pretty miserable, so we decided to postpone lunch until later. The weather alternated rapidly as we continued; sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy/rainy. We came to a waterfall stream which we had to cross to continue. Fraser warned us beforehand that this could be treacherous at times and could determine if we continued or had to go back, but we took our time it wasn’t that bad to cross. If Frodo can get to Mordor, then we can keep on going.
We then reached the part of the route that zig-zagged up the hill. My leg was starting to twinge as if on the lead up to a cramp. Was worried that would be me and I’d have to go back down, but a stranger passing showed me how to stretch it out and postpone the pain for a bit. Just had to do that every now and again. We made it past the zig-zag part and it was just going forward along the hill top toward the peak of Ben Nevis. It seemed to be getting sunnier and clearer the higher we climbed.
It reminded me of something Fraser said yesterday; he was saying that the five of us were the perfect team to go up the mountain. We have Kevin who studies geology and knows the land. Michael who was our very own paramedic. Eoin who was formerly in the RAF. I interjected when he came up to the two of us and said “and we’ve platinumed Tomb Raider and Uncharted, so we’re sorted.”
After about five and half hours of climbing, at 2:45pm we finally made it to the old observatory next to the pedestal marking the highest point of Ben Nevis. We did it! The highest point in the UK! We managed to get some cracking views when clouds cleared now and again! Outstanding! I’m not scared of heights, but I did feel particularly queazy when looking over edges with steep drops and with the wind.
We sat at the top of the world, having some snacks, soaking in our victory, but dreading the thought that we’d eventually have to walk all the way back down at some point. Kevin, Eoin and Michael were definitely quicker going down the mountain; probably because there was a pub we passed at the starting point. Fraser and I took our times, especially since the weather got extremely bad. Cold rain and hail going horizontal like bb’s into your face. We could endure that, but the 70mph wind was getting dangerously unpredictable; coming from all different directions. Being thrown off your feet from wind or slipping on wet rocks (where you were only a few steps away from going over edge;) was pretty terrifying!
The two of us held it together; we didn’t catch up with the others during route down so had to assume they made it to pub or had died. Thankfully the two of us made it to the pub where the other were. Three of us were starving and wanted a McDonalds in Fort William, so I had to drive with my legs aching and shaking. We were in hysterics as I was like Elvis in the front. Think I had about 2 meals to myself, I was so hungry; think the others were same. We were pretty ecstatic that we did it and even more so about a week after the climb when we found out we had raised £450 for West FM Cash for Kids!