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Scotland 2015: 40th birthday trip

 

I just returned from a great trip to Scotland.  I was treated to a stop over by my close friends, who’d clubbed together and paid for the entire thing, in order for me to go hike the CMD arete onto Ben Nevis.

I’d done the same route in clear autumn, but these were proper winter conditions.  After driving via Glasgow for a night in a hotel, we drove the rest on the Friday.  The idea was to do something in Fort William Friday, then spend Saturday doing the main hike.

Well, the mountaineer of the group – Gavin, suggested we take a couple of hours to visit a spot he knew.  the ‘Lost Valley’ was well worth having parked up for.  It took about an hour to walk into, via a great trail between the first two of the ‘Three Sisters’ in Glen Coe.

Prepared for an adventure

Prepared for an adventure

The entrance to the Lost Valley

The entrance to the Lost Valley

It was too good.

The Lost Valley

The Lost Valley

We decided to head further in instead of returning to the car….

Let's do this

Let’s do this

and we spent hours battling our way up the steep sided valley, into the snow and onto the highest section before turning back when energy levels were running low.  Between fatigue and poor traction, half the group struggled until feeling a little worn out.

Get those Microspikes on

Get those Microspikes on

I had a blast, carving steps with the ice axe Stu n Debs had lent me, helping those less well equipped to make progress without slipping and sliding to the valley floor and a possible fall from the odd cliff here or there.

Who's idea was this?

Who’s idea was this?

By the time we’d all safely returned to the car, there were some very tired hikers and the CMD the next day wasn’t looking realistic for everybody.  Saturday morning we split up and those who’d already done too much went for a simple wander through the valley beneath Ben Nevis’ North Face.

The view from the trail beneath Ben Nevis - not foreboding at all

The view from the trail beneath Ben Nevis – not foreboding at all

My friend Gavin and I pressed on with the arete and had a brilliant time.  The weather was incredible.  Crystal clear and sunny.  You could not ask for better.  I’m enormously grateful to the three friends who made it possible.  Particularly as half the group ended up doing something else to stay busy while I completed the route I’d set my heart on.

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That’s me on the ridge.

 

and on the summit with my mate Gav

and on the summit with my mate Gav

Notice – this was my first go in the new inov-8 Race Elite Soft Shell Pro, which will get a review in due course, but for now – impressive.

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