Ben Nevis climb On Monday 21st September 2020 at 0610 I, Edd Swanson and Jamie Derrick boarded the ferry from Dunoon to embark on what we hopefully will become a growing annual event to climb Ben Nevis. This was to raise funds for Forces Online CIC, a newly established charity who’s aim is to help veterans and there families in any way we can.
We set out in the darkness, a foggy but fresh morning. Driving from the ferry, Jamie at the wheel we drove north west over the Erskine bridge, heading through Glen Coe the sun rose and the conditions looked perfect for our climb. We drove onwards into fort William eventually reaching the Ben Nevis visitor centre.
The car park already busy but we managed to find a space We arrived at the base at 0930 and started our climb, there was a few people we could see ahead all varied in age and carrying/wearing different types of clothing and equipment. Our first mile we done in 20 minutes and I said to Jamie “we’ll do this in no time, it’s a doddle” words I’d regret.
We continued to make good time and joked that we may have brought to much kit, clothing etc with us? After the second mile the terrain got steeper and the large solid stop boulders changed to loose scree underfoot and steeper edges, much harder to walk on, the boots we were wearing were definitely needed. Our pace slowed but we were still making good time, passing lots of people in front of us. Again, it was very noticeable at how ill prepared some people were. About two thirds of the way up the weather started to deteriorate.
Thick fog closed in and a sudden drop in temperature resulted in poor visibility. We both thankfully had more layers and were grateful for all we had brought with us. Staying close we continued and started passing the markers towards the final summit, very steep cliff edges and poor visibility suddenly opened up to a plateau. The remains of an old observatory stood, with a load marker and an well-constructed shelter became visible as the fog cleared for a minute, then again the wind and fog returned. Along with us were about 20 others all huddled in what shelter they could, taking pictures or grabbing some food. We took our pictures and after a short break headed backdown the mountain. Naïvely, we thought the descent would be so much easier than the climb.
Initially we made good progress even managing to jog on the flatter areas. As we got further down the constant pounding on the knees started to show and pain set in. Finally getting to the base, a real sense of accomplishment set in and an overwhelming joy of what we had done.