Monday, 8 October 2012

Ben Nevis and the Aonach Eagach back-to-back


The mother of all sunrises on Carn Mor Dearg yesterday



I took myself by surprise today…despite having not slept since my busy 11 hour Clachaig shift, I was on the best form I've ever felt as I sped up Carn Mor Dearg for the sunrise.

Things really seem to have come together recently, as a result of regular hill-running and by making a few changes to my running/resting/eating habits. Even though I felt dejected after a 5 week lay-off from running due to a foot injury, a fair bit of hard work has quickly put me in better shape than before and the fittest I've ever been.


Crisp morning light on the Ben

And the real purpose of all this is for days like today. I had that inkling last night that conditions could be suitable for a really great dawn this morning so I headed off in the dark up Carn Mor Dearg. I waited on the cold and frosty ridge for a long time, my hopes for a good sunrise rapidly fading as banks of cloud rolled in over the summits.


Schiehallion at dawn

But then, as is so often the case, a sudden and spectacular change. The clouds shifted and I was treated to the mother of all sunrises….the clouds instantly set on fire by a dawn glow unlike anything I've ever seen before.


But I knew my positioning was wrong and the light was quickly changing. So I ran 100m back down the slope to get a better angle on things, then realising my original position was going to be better so I ran straight back up again. And I got my photos. All the hard work I've put in over the last year has been so I am fit enough so I can make sure I can get exactly the right place at the right time when a once-a-year opportunity like this arrises.



Rime ice on the Carn Mor Dearg Arete

Then a frosty and slippery jog across the CMD Arete to a snowy and surprisingly wintery summit of Ben Nevis. And after a while admiring the firm snow, rime ice and lengthy icicles adorning the summit I ran at full pace back down to my car at Torlundy.


Alpenglow in October? Can't complain.

Back to Glencoe by 11am, and I thought I'd see how real my feeling of being at my fittest really was. So I did the Aonach Eagach as well, running long sections but not too fast considering I'd already climbed Carn Mor Dearg and the Ben immediately before.


The view from the Aonach Eagach to Stob Coire nan Lochan

I felt pretty fresh considering I'd done 8800ft of ascent involving a fair bit of running, after no sleep. Who knows, maybe one day I'll become vaguely okay at the whole hill-running thing. Until then I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, so I can make sure I can get to the right place at the right time again next time the dawn puts on such a rare and stunning display.

James

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