Highball Scottish Winter Trip: Top 20 bits.

Highball Scottish Winter Trip: Top 20 bits.  

Climbing would not be climbing without the opportunity to list and grade things.  this was the Highball winter trip, in no particular order...

1.  Adam Fearn has the greatest mountaineering week of all time.  He does his winter skills training on Sunday and Monday, Aonach Eagach on Tuesday with incredible views and Tower Ridge guided on Wednesday - basically the two greatest mountaineering experiences Scotland can offer.    Everyone is surprised when he does not go to Skye to knock off the Cuillin ridge.

2.  The weather is unbelievably good all week

3.  Debs walks the CMD aerate, carrying the rope virtually all the way: 60 metres and five kilos of it.  She refuses to let anyone else carry it, saying she needs the training.  Tim, being a gentleman pleads with her continuously to allow him to take it as he feels guilty.  I ask her once, half-heartedly, so I don't look like a bastard.

4.  This is after Debs - very new to mountaineering - burns everyone off on Stob Coire nan Lochan.  She explains 'When we all agreed that we would turn back from the summit at two o'clock, I decided I'd better go for it.' This explains why I am happy she has the rope on CMD: its the only way we can handicap her sufficiently to keep up.  Trying to keep up with her in day to day life is the reason Tom Smith's ankle is fucked.

5.  Peter Naylor and Adam Alami watch a Russian climber melt down on an ice pitch.  One of his half ropes has caught underneath a projecting lump of rock and his mate has pulled him tight on the other, locking him into an unescapable position.   This would be exceptionally dangerous if it were not four feet off the ground.
The Russian repeatedly screams 'Naka mora' which is Russian for 'Slack on Red' (probably).
Adam says 'Because of the emotion and terror in his voice, it was so funny.'

6.  The weather is unbelievably good all week.

7.  Peter Goulding and Steve Gaines go slow up Golden Oldie and miss the gondola down.  If this were not bad enough, they stop at the gondola station to take off their crampons, and watch as the snowplough driver goes down in an unscheduled gondola, and empty one trailing behind - literally if they had been two minutes quicker they could have caught the spare.  Peter Goulding loses his sense of humour descending the mountain bike track, and Steve Gaines loses his crampons.

8.  Phil Mortimer makes pate sandwiches and cannot decide which kind of tomato to put in them, debates it with the group who make helpful suggestions.  Inexplicably, no one takes the piss.  
This after Mike has come up with the suggestion of wearing ankle weights, delivered in seriousness via Facebook.  No one takes the piss.
Truly, the definition of masculinity has changed within our lifetimes.

For Fuck's Sake.

9.  The definition of 'rest day' is rewritten.  Steve and Peter Goulding go cragging after their epic, Tim, Serge and Adam Fearn go skiing.  Only Sam and Charlotte do anything remotely restful: going to the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary to look at otters.  So they claim.

10.  After an initially bemused reception, the hostel turns into the friendliest place we have ever been, and we wander around drinking tea in our pants, scratching our nuts and bullshitting with the other guests, 75% of whom are also climbers, 20% incredibly tall dutchmen, 2% pizza chefs, and a man from India.

11.  Two sottish lads turn up having climbed the Ben on a whim.  They are friendly, knock back a crate of cider then hit the pub.  Their snoring clears dorm 5, who all move to the common room.

12.  The weather is unbelievably good all week.

13.  Team Adam and Team Pete form up for Curved Ridge.  Both Adams and Both Petes decide to climb together in Pete+Adam combos, and confusingly swap between which Pete or Adam combo they are currently in.  Much humour derives from this, which I intend to document in a further blog entry which will be called 'Ascent into Madness'.

Adam Alami promotes Switzerland, while Pete Naylor worries about his choice of climbing partner

14.  Tony Weatherburn is visibly gutted to leave and demands to be carried to the car.  Phil doesn't look much more pleased to be leaving, or carrying Tony.  

15.  Sam and Charlotte - mainly Charlotte - decide they want to take it cautious and thoroughly accustom themselves to the mountains before trying to lead a winter mixed climb.  They climb Ballachullish Horseshoe via what turns out to be Schoolhouse Ridge.  Sam says 'we took the rope out a lot more than  I expected'.  
Later in the week Sam leads an ice pitch which sounds absolutely fucking harrowing.

16.  Adam 'Swiss Cheese' Alami is introduced to McVities Jamaican Ginger Cake, Jaffa Cakes, Lime Pickle and Poppadums and Morrisons.  He also - incredibly - has his first ride in a cablecar, up to Aonach Mor.  Scotland 1 Switzerland 0.
He is less keen on Kendal Mint Cake.  'Why is this?' he pleads, scared and confused.

17. The weather ... is unbe - liev - ably good.  All week!

18.  Matt Stygall - the guide - leads people up around 200 grades of difficulty, 78 quality stars and consumes nearly a million calories, at a breakneck speed and without visible effort.  The only time he looks tired is when trying to finish his curry on the last night.

19.  Mark pushes the envelope of originality with a daring descent from the Ben with Steve Gaines down the western face: a route no one has ever walked before due to a) its steepness and difficulty of progress and b) the existence of a path fifty metres to the left.  Steve describes it as 'quite a long short cut we took'.

20. No one goes gear shopping for shiny bit soft kit when the weather is shit.  This is because the weather is not shit.  In fact it is unbelievably good all week.

We didn't darken their door.  Especially as we were in Scotland , and this isn't.