Mountain Climbing howâ€™s that for an adventure? Adventure sports/traveling is an altogether different experience. Something which you will remember for your life time, not that you donâ€™t remember your other outings, but there is a certain level of risk or calculated risk involved with an adventure. Some do it for fun, some to test themselves and some to get away from the day to day life, after all life ainâ€™t incessant.
I decided to take on one such challenge partly because I wanted to test my â€“ physical and mental ability and also for the sake of change. Like most humans I love to travel, explore new cities, cultures, food and meet the locals, this to me is part of lifeâ€™s education.
I was looking for my available options, when one of my friends suggested me to visit Ben Nevis, located in Scotland – the highest peak in United Kingdom
For your information on Ben Nevis:
Location: Scottish Island Lochaber
Height: 4408 ft (1344 m)
So after doing some online research I decided to head for Inverness, the coming weekend. Inverness is the city in the Highlands. Inverness is also the focal point for the road network in northern Scotland. Main roads from Aberdeen, Perth and Fort William all meet here. Ben Nevis is located at about 30 â€“ 40 minutes drive from Inverness. One of my friends decided to join me, itâ€™s even better if you go in a group â€“ but as it happened with me some of my friends didnâ€™t have time, some were not comfortable with the short schedule and various reasons one gets to avoid such trip.
Since the trip was not planned well in advance, we could not get cheap air tickets. As a result we decided to go by a coach- National Express, which takes about 12 hours from London. Trains do take the same time and probably more comfortable for such a long journey, but we decided to travel by coach purely for economical reasons (train would have cost about Â£160) . National Express cost us about Â£30 return journey from London – Inverness. We decided to keep the trip short, our trip itinerary was to leave on Friday night â€“ reach Inverness by Saturday afternoon. Climb Ben Nevis on Sunday morning and board the Monday morningâ€™s coach back to London.
We left London on Friday night at 12am and reached Inverness around 12- 1 pm on Saturdayy afternoon. Having done some research on the online B n B bookings I was a bit reluctant to book online, as I knew that we could get cheaper rates if we go directly to the hotel (did the same for my previous trips). But to our dismay, there was some festival going on in Inverness and all rooms had been taken. After nearly 2 hours we finally got a room (thanks to the city Information Center) at one of the B n B’s. Inverness is a wonderful city, there is some sort of calmness attached to it. We were smitten by its beauty, the people are warm and friendly. As we were walking towards our B n B we passed the Inverness Castle and river Ness running besides it. Luckily our B n B was located just opposite the castle.
After reaching our B n B we decided to explore the city. Inverness is a diverse and bustling city with a compact and attractive center. Thanks to the ongoing festival it was a bit busy, but then who minds to see beautiful faces around :) ? . Later in the afternoon we decided to go for shopping â€“ things that we would need tomorrow for the climb. Things like water, cereal bars, fruits, juice and stuff. Make sure you donâ€™t take too many stuff with you, as you probably donâ€™t want to carry a heavy bag while you are climbing. Cereal bars are a must as they are light (to carry) and are a good source for energy. This was reminded to me by my friend; sheâ€™s more of a professional in such adventures.
In the evening my friend decided to go to bed early while I went out for a jog in order to enjoy the wonderful city and partly to check my stamina before the climb. I was freshened after 30-40 minutes of jog in the clean and fresh air,
I was exploring the city in a different way. I wanted to carry on but did not
wish to over exert myself.
Reaching Ben Nevis.
We rose early on Sunday and reached the coach station at 6:30 am to catch a bus for Fort Williams, a town where Ben Nevis is located. But were surprised to see that that the first bus would start at 10:35 am or so and the last bus from Fort Williams was at 5 pm. It would be impossible to climb and be back in such a short time (It takes roughly 4 hrs of ascending and 2.5 â€“ 3rs hours of descending). We got the wrong information the previous day, I should have checked the bus timing while scheduling the trip, may be I took things for granted (but I’ll excuse myself considering this was my first expedition :)). But we found a way out â€“ or should I say an expensive way out. We hired a cab for Â£60 from Inverness to Fort Williams (Ben Nevis is located in Fort Williams)
The drive was about 30 minutes. The view on the way was mind blowing ( not the one in picture). There is a huge lake near Fort Williams surrounded by mountains, clouds had covered the lake and such a sight could not be described by words. There was a French Food festival in the market of Fort Williams, we had a quick bit and were on our way towards Ben Nevis. It took us about 20 minutes walk to reach the base of Ben Nevis, we could have reached faster but we had taken a longer route. We later figured out that the road was meant for cars and huge vehicles to reach the base of Ben Nevis. We finally reached the base, the real journey was about to begin.
We started out climb at about 9:30 am with a loads of energy and enthusiasm, probably wanted to complete in a record time, so we started in a rush and as a result after 40 minutes my friend pulled out, was not physically fit to carry on. That left me alone, of course there were other climbers as well, but friends and companions do make difference in such a grueling task. I was determined to climb to the top no matter what. Also you receive encouragements from people who are climbing like â€œWell done Manâ€, â€œKeep Goingâ€ which does help.
The first hour was fun moving alone with the sound from my mp3 hitting my hear buds, taking frequent breaks to get the air in. The first hour or so the path was well laid out and the view was mind blowing giving one a heavenly feeling.
I then passed could of wooden bridge, that looked a bit risky they were not very strong and if you slipped then you go down straight in the valley. It was a bit scary but that made the climb all the more exciting. Always kept you on toes. As I progressed the path became rockier. I was wearing trainers rather than rock climbing shoes (which has thick soles and extra grip). Well my friend did advice me to get those, but I ignored her advice. But then I was an amateur in mountain climbing (here goes the same excuse, can’t find another one :) )
This climb (or any in life) wasnâ€™t that straightforward. The rest of the climb was on rocky terrain, and then it rained, making it even tricky. I had taken a light wind sheeter but it didnâ€™t help much making me wet. I started to fell the pain in my heels, leave alone the wet clothes that made climbing difficult. But I was determined to reach the top. I had just completed about 2 hour of climb of the approximate 4 hours.
I then wanted to reach the top as soon as possible, got a bit anxious. As I was on my way to the top, I could see people coming down. They had started early in the morning. So every now and then whenever I saw some one coming down I used to ask them â€œHow much more?â€ The first reply I got â€œYou have just about completed half the climbâ€. I was a devastated :) . I continued to ask these questions after every 10- 20 minutes.
It was good that I had ample of energy supply with me ( water, cereal bars, apples and so on )in my bag pack. As I reached towards the top it rained heavily and was getting colder (you would expect that at 4408 ft). My legs were &*%* up, I could feel the rocks hitting my heels. Trainers are not meant for such climbs, I paid the price for ignoring my friendâ€™s advice.
Finally I reached the top. It was very foggy up there. There are few memorials placed in the memories of those who died in War’s. At that time I had forgotten about the pain in my legs, the sense of achievement was bigger than the pain in my legs. It was a rocky mountain table, which made walking a bit difficult (it was still raining). If you slipped you were sure to twist your ankle of hurt your body. It was around 1:40 pm, I took about 4 hours(with countless breaks) to reach the top, thats the average time one takes. But I was pleased with the effort. I could see the deep valley, there are no barriers at the top, so a couple of steps more and I would be falling down about 2-3000 ft. I took few photos had something to eat and drink and was on my way down.
Just after 10 -15 minutes of leaving the top. I pulled my calf muscle of my right leg. So now not only did I have trouble with my heels but I had pulled my right calf muscle as well. What more do you want?? I am sure this was due to all the walking on the rocks with an occasional stretch and jump here and there. This made sure that my descending was not easy as I thought to be. Still carrying my injuries I managed to reach at the end in about 2:30 hrs. As I came towards the base I could see the cars and the road I thought thats it – I completed the climb and nothing more could go wrong. Well I proved myself wrong again. Just about 10 minutes from the base, I jumped over an iron gate (may be I was a bit excited), I mistimed my jump and hit my right knee, it was a painful blow.
I some how managed to reach the base where my friend was waiting for me. The climb was above my expectations. Even though I did most of the climb by myself, I enjoyed. As a result I have decided to go mountain climbing again ( will let you know about it) but a different destination and with more preparation.
A kind Spanish girl gave us a lift till the coach station and we were in time for our coach to Inverness. I was in pain that night but I was so tired that I just hit the bed. The next morning we left for London.
It took me a week to fully recover from my pulled calf muscle. While the painful blow I took on my right knee took 2-3 weeks to heal. I also took an x-ray back in London to make sure that I had not broken it. But this hasnâ€™t dampened my spirit, I wish to undertake more such adventures, next on my list is Bungee Jumping.
I wish you undertake such trip and let me know about them.