Number 38 – Schiehallion

25 01 2015

Scheihallion 1

The weather had worsened somewhat. We opted to sit it out for ten minutes. The blue skies which had lifted our mood, massaged our weary calves and provided the light which allowed us to follow in the fast filling footprnts of our distant fellow walkers, had disappeared behind the fog of cloud which deprived us of both visibility and enthusiasm. Such are these moments, so familiar to those who frequent the Scottish hills.

The wind, although none the stronger, appeared to increase in volume as the weather conspired to assume a severity which was greater than the sum of its parts. They know how to work together these elements.

We were within at least 20 minutes of the summit, 5 minutes in good summer conditions, but this was anything but good summer conditions. Peter knew this from his previous experience on this hill, me, a mere novice, could only take his word for it.

“Let’s sit it out for ten minutes, and see if the visibility clears” I suggested.

We found what shelter we could behind a a small boulder. It was little shelter at all. The wind whistled around us, finding the weaknesses in our clothing. It had been in our face all the way up, but with perfect visibility and crisp snow, its effect was no more than a refreshing reminder of our location and situation. We sat together, backs towards the spindrift driven menace, hoods up, shoulders drawn into our necks. Peter decided to change his gloves. An opportunity to take some pictures and video whilst his fingers were liberated. He soon regretted it, squeezing his new dry gloves back onto numbed fingers, the screaming hot aches took hold. and like a rabid terrier, they don’t let go until maximum pain has been inflicted.

The weather improved none.

“Let’s sit it out for another ten minutes, and see if the visibility clears” I suggested.

We had no choice. Well we did, and for each of the 20 minutes we sat there, we both knew what the only other option was. Our footprints were filling in rapidly – normally an easy way of finding your way back off – however, on such a simple hill as Schiehallion, even Peter had adopted my simple principle of navigation, on the way up, go uphill, on the way down, go downhill. If you encounter difficulties, deal with them. I know its risky, but it has served me well these last 20 years.

And then, as most things seem to do when you are familiar with a climbing partner, we both came to the same decision simultaneously.

Aware that I had to get home for 5:00pm to go to the opera, and aware that I was within minutes of ticking another, I was struck with “not getting to the summit fever”.

“Fuck it, lets go” said Pete.

We pushed on.

Shiehallion 3

Schiehallion 4

Shciehallion 5

Shiehallion 2

I’m raising funds for my friend Corinne’s charity Finding Your Feet.

And donate here






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