At 08:30 we awoke, less magnificently than the day before, but still pretty magnificently, in the car. Having spent 8 hours driving 311 miles until 04:00, but failing to find anywhere to stay, we eventually pulled into a car park, reclined our seats and alternately frozen and boiled our way into the next morning.
After scorning a Morrisons’ breakfast, we hobbled to a cafe and feasted, whilst reading a white paper into the physiology of the snatch (a weight-lifting technique favoured by the brave) and analysing videos of our own technique.
That’s just what we do, we lifting few…when attempting to climb the Three Peaks.
Soon, however, it was time to stop talking about lifting things and start climbing something. The biggest something in all the UK, in fact. The life of the Guild of Adventurers is a tough, but glorious one.
That said, days of climbing, descending, driving and sleeping in cramped conditions had taken their toll…in BLOOD! Or knee and back pain, whatever. We accepted, therefore, that we could spend all day hobbling up the biggest of mountains gently…or we could attack it with fury and conquer it as fast as possible.
Obviously, we chose fury. Instead of walking the elongated winding path, we took every chance we could to scramble up rock-faces and near vertical grassy ascents, paying with pain to cut off miles of tedious rocky paths.
First came the dust. After the dust, came the stones. Stones turned to grass, grass turned to rocks and rocks turned to snow and ice. After three hours, we were in the tundra – complete with whirling snow daemons, mountain rescues and regular suggestions that we don some clothing.
Needless to say, we did not. We continued to the very highest point in the British Isles without a care in the world or a t-shirt on our backs, and felt not the tiniest bit cold. We believe that, by this point, we had become more Gods than men.
The way down was long and hard, taking much longer than it should have done, on account of the shooting pain through our knees. Nevertheless, we hobbled our way back, flopped into the car, found a pub and feasted on chicken liver pate, oatcakes, baked crumbed brie and venison casserole, with pints of amber ale.
Then it was off to Glasgow, to spend the night honouring the mountains we conquered with drinks (a Perfect Storm for Snowdon, a classic English gin n’ tonic for Scarfell and a smooth Jura whiksy on ice for Ben Nevis) and spend the next day rocketing back home.
Upon arrival back in the land of men, we had a cup of tea and headed to the gym…only to discover it was closed for Bank Holiday Monday. It was probably just as well.
All in all, a staggering weekend. We spent at least 24 solid hours driving over 1300 miles and climbed the highest mountain each country had to offer. We scrambled up waterfalls, sat on the Throne of the Mountain Kings and gazed out over lakes that rest thousands of feet above sea level. We drank, we feasted, we honoured our ancestors and flew the flags of Murderbeers at the highest points in all the British isles.
The only downside was the cost of petrol, which may have crippled us financially forever. We are rich men, we of the Guild of Adventurers, but alas our currency is divided into denominations of glory and honour.
Gold holds no value at the top of a mountain…unless there is a charming, family-owned cafe serving mulled wine and pasta bake…but there never is. There is only pain and the knowledge that soon it will fade…into more pain.
Things We Learned on Ben Nevis
Things are rarely as hard as people like to think they are
We are quite good at scrambling
Whatever we do, we tend to end up as “those guys”
The question is never “whether” you will conquer, merely “when” and “how much pain will be involved?”
Trainers are not ideal for climbing in the snow, but do the job well enough