Ben Nevis-Scotland

Leaving the Isle of Mull we took the ferry to Oban and drove to Fort Williams via the spectacular valleys and peaks of Glen Coe. We secured lodging at the Scottish Youth Hostel which is located across the road from the trail for Ben Nevis and hiked towards the summit early the next morning to overcast skies. The trail quickly crosses a lovely stream and heads steeply upwards on a well established and maintained rocky trail. We hiked the first 2000 feet in an hour as it rolls over onto a flat plateau where it splits. We took a small  muddy path that traversed around the back side of the mountain to a Scottish climbing club hut. After a short rest our route went up a steep rocky slope to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg (another Munro). The clouds had dropped quite low so any hope of views nonexistent. I was able to see the lower portion of one of the large gullies off the north side of Nevis where Tim had been injured in an avalanche in his younger years. We took a short break at the summit cairn of Carn Mor Dearg and moved quickly along the narrow and somewhat exposed traverse to Ben Nevis. The last four hundred vertical feet was done in a sprint as the weather deteriorated and we finished at the summit in blowing wind and sheets of rain. We took just enough time for a few photos and feeling cold and wet knew we had to move down the mountain. A short distance in front of us  was a young Japanese woman who was heading down the trail with no rain gear and  in clothing not adequate for the current weather conditions. Nigel looked over at me and suggested we just keep an eye on her in case something were to happen on the descent. Just over the first rise she stopped to talk to her boyfriend who sat on the ground shivering and soaking wet. He was rather incoherent and it took us some time to coax him to rise and follow us down rather than continuing up (without the use of English or Japanese). Out of our backpacks we pulled out extra clothing of rain pants, jackets, hats and gloves and had the couple put them on. Tim and I headed down first with the woman behind us and Nigel walked with the fellow until we dropped the first 2000 feet and out of the blowing wind. We were able to explain where we were lodging and when they had reached the road entered the youth hostel and returned our clothing with many thanks. We did a good deed. Journal: “Scrambling on the narrow arete towards Ben Nevis is a joy. I love moving quickly along the airy ridge as the mist slithers between the larger boulders. Over and around the way switches from one exposed side to the other as I use hands and feet to propel my movement. The other worldly feel is rather magical.”