Monday, 7 November 2011

The Ben, the Buachaille and an amazing 9 hours (posted by James)

The Highlands have been well and truly showing off over the last few days, revealing their real splendour again after being shrouded for so long under a veil of cloud and rain.

This is one of the times of year that I study the weather forecasts particularly carefully, always looking out for signs and clues that will guide me as to where will be exactly the best place to be for climbing or photography on any given day. Yesterday's MWIS forecast was what I'd been waiting for since the end of last winter - frost in the glens but warm sunshine on the summits, a winning combination for photography as it usual means one thing. Cloud inversions.

Early morning mist starting to break over the North East Buttress of the Ben

With this in mind I did the familiar trudge from the Ben Nevis North face car park in the dark and headed towards the beautiful Carn Mor Dearg arete, one of the finest viewpoints in the Highlands.

Dawn light catches Castle Ridge

The East ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach

As the sky brightened and the first of the sunshine lit up Castle Ridge, I could tell it was going to be a special day. But I wasn't quite expecting the treat that I would get when I reached the summit of Carn Mor Dearg. Not a cloud inversion as such, but an incredible blue haze and layer of mist across the Southern Highlands, a scene of almost unreal beauty.

I spent a while on the summit of the Ben, perfectly warm enough in a t-shirt, just soaking in the perfection of the view in front of me. I looked at my watch…I wasn't starting work for another 7 hours or so….it would be a shame to simply go back down already…

The Buachaile tempts me to extent my plans for the day....

So with a smile on my face and a spring in my step I ran down Ben Nevis as quick as possible, drove back to Glencoe and started up the climber's track up Buachaille Etive Mor.

I climbed my old favourite North Buttress, randomly bumping into Mike Martin who filmed me climbing the crux chimneys for a climbing film he is making.

Shadows and colours on Rannoch Moor

And 4.5 hours after I'd been standing on the summit of the Ben I found myself on the summit of the Buachaille, watching the sun set. I hadn't felt a single moment of fatigue in the entire day, and time had flown past.

Where I'd been only a few hours before

Before I started the run down Coire na Tualach, I took a moment to look over my shoulder at Ben Nevis in the distance. A warm evening glow was starting to spread of its slopes.

Definitely a day to remember.


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