Friday 20th May – Sunday 22nd May COMPLETED!
On Friday 20th May a group of would-be climbers met at London Heathrow ready to embark on the first leg of our journey that would see us conquer Britain’s highest peak. After a relaxing day of food and whiskey tasting, we retired to bed early in preparation for the challenge which lay ahead.
We rose early on Saturday morning, being sure to have a hearty breakfast in anticipation of the 3,000 calories we were soon to burn. The forecast looked grim: the rain was pouring; there was talk of hail and temperatures of minus 15 degrees. But spirits were not to be dampened. We boarded the buses and set off to the foot of Ben Nevis where we were greeted by our guides.
After a group photo we commenced our challenge. It really was a journey through the harshest of the elements. To start with there was reasonable visibility, and as we hiked we had views over Loch Lomond. Nonetheless, the drizzle was relentless. The higher we got, the stronger the gusts of wind, the colder the air, and the more our faces burned. The terrain was varied – from gradual inclines to steep parts; loose rocks and smooth paths; the most gruelling, a punishing zigzag. As we neared the summit, visibility closed, the winds were wild and we ploughed through deep snow.
Mars Bars, Jelly Babies and the will to succeed spurred us on, and we finally arrived at the summit. Exhausted and elated, we got the all important photographic evidence of our achievement, and made attempts at eating our packed lunches (a real challenge in gloves and below freezing temperatures). As we perched under a ruined building, we reflected that we had all indeed made it.
Our ascent had been tough on the lungs and legs but our descent was to be harshest on the knees. Piercing painful sleet on our faces, we were utterly drenched.
We arrived back at the foot of the Ben all of us making it between 6 and 8 hours (now that we have conquered it our guides tell us we can call it the Ben!). We made our way in to the pub for a very well-earned pint and the comfort of armchairs.
After showers, massages, and a rest, we all met for a celebratory meal, wearily, but happily sharing stories, comparing blisters and broken phones. After an award ceremony, which included certificates for ‘A Touch of Class’ and ‘Best Fundraiser’, we danced the night away to a Ceilidh, bringing our aching limbs back to life to the dulcet sounds of the bagpipes. It really was a truly Scottish weekend.
Thank you to all the climbers who took part, not only for braving the elements, but for raising over £50,000 for the Wellington Appeal!