Sunday, 4 July 2010

A storm and a midnight adventure in Glencoe.

The Coire nam Beithiach waterfall, in daylight!

Summer in the Highlands can be a double edged sword for climbers and hillwalkers. In periods of good weather (like the preceding month), the seemingly endless hours of daylight make for amazing opportunity, and May and June have been the most prolific months of climbing for Alex and I both this year and in 2009.

But now the weather has broken. It is usually a depressing time for me, especially as I am mainly a winter climber/hillwalker. The summer can seem so lacking in opportunity for adventure.

For various reasons I hadn't been on the hill since my solo of Tower Ridge a couple of weeks ago, and I've been getting itchy feet. When this happens, i increasingly feel the need to make up for lost time and do something insane.

The weather today was ferocious. Gale force gusts and torrential rain almost all day. I was inspired by the power and size of the Coire nam Beithiach waterfall this morning, and suddenly felt the urge to do a night-time visit.

At 1:30am, even with the rain at its heaviest, I just wanted to go. It was energising, being soaked as soon as I opened the door and stepped outside into the dark. Before I knew it, I was running through the downpour up the steep path into Coire nam Beithiach. The "Bad Step" scrambling section of the path had been turned into an actual waterfall itself by the rain, and I fought my way up this, my legs being submerged all the way up.

Past the bad step, and I veered left and into the falls themselves. I scrambled up through the cascades, totally soaked and hardly able to see a yard in front of my face through the rain. All the time, going as fast as I could, just wanting to feel the burn in my legs and my lungs.

A thundering noise. As I emerged into the pool at the bottom of the main waterfall, its sheer power was overwhelming. A thick mist of spray from the waterfall was covering a huge area all around. The noise was unbelievable. I stood for a full five minutes in the pool, simply living the moment. Utterly vulnerable, totally alone, but so alive.

Adventures can be had in the summer, they are just sometimes harder to find.


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