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Thursday, 18 March 2010

Eventful weekend on Ben Nevis 13/03/10.

Last EUMC winter meet of the year - Ben Nevis. The cold weather that we've had since December finally broke and the first real thaw of the year has set in, meaning everything was all really soggy! I drove up with Harry, Liam and Phil on the Friday night, and got to the car park about half tenish. Walked in through thick mud and slush - boots got soaked through - with our packs on, mine honestly must have been about 25kg, was ridiculous. Arrived at the CIC hut really late after waiting on the last person up the track, pitched the tent and at last got some sleep.

Heard Liam rummaging around the tent at about 5 - he was off to do Point Five Gully - but I got up around half six. Big plans to do Tower Ridge! Set off from the tents about half seven with Rachel and Fiona.

The route takes an easy gully up the left of the Douglas Boulder after which there is a short, mixed chimney, that we pitched. It then follows the crest of the ridge up to a short icefall, that we soloed, then continues to another mixed chimney. I led this again, definitely looked a lot harder than it was up to the summit of Little Tower. The Eastern traverse was in not bad condition, a bit soft and luffy however there were plenty of nut placements. This pitch then led on to some steeper, more committing climbing up to the Gap. I sat on this belay for over an hour and a half getting really cold! (will bring walkietalkies next time). The ridge then sharpens, with Tower Gap at one end. The exposure was quite incedible, but I didn't use any of the in situ stuff as aid! After another cock up (Rachel!) we were on the top after a stunning route, and to heat up we had a bite to eat in the shelter.

After trying to find number four gully, the original descent plan, we got a bit lost and thought better of it, so just walked down the zig-zags, following the cairns. Bit of a long walk back down and round to the CIC, but at least it was safe.

When I got back to the tents it was sleeting and seeing as I still had the car we took the opportunity to get off the hill. Got packed up and walked out in good time, however my ankle was pretty sore (injured it about a month ago in a club). Left the car park at 1 and started the drive back to Edinburgh, but i was pretty tired so we stopped for a sleep in Bridge of Orchy.
Returned to Edinburgh about half five, dropped the guys off and got junked up on energy drinks. I hadn't considered going home, but seeing as it was mothers day it would have been a nice surprise.

About half seven, about ten miles past Hermiston Gait I drifted off and clipped the middle crash barrier. Swerved a few times before hitting the side crash barrier head on, I think at about 50. Amazingly i was absolutely fine, but smoke filled the car so I bailed out the passenger door. As I ran away from the car I could hear it was still running, fueling the fire so I rushed back to turn it off (stupid I know). It went out. Some people stopped to see that I was alright, but they had places to go. Called mum then the police. They came quite quickly and got things sorted.

I was so lucky. That I didn't hit anybody else, didn't flip, didn't end up on the carraigeway, wasn't trapped in the fire, wasn't hurt at all by the impact, that i hit the crash barrier, that the car crumpled perfectly, that there was a crash barrier.
I was also very stupid. How could I live with myself if anyone else had been involved?

Anyway, car's a right-off, so there will be considerably less of this going on. :(

(will get more photos soon)

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