European Summit Challenge
Scotland - Ben Nevis (1392m)

1989
Spaghetti Western Highlands

My first ascent of the "Ben" was with two school friend; Iain and Phil. We were eighteen years old, and had spent the previous week walking from Inverness on the east coast of Scotland to Fort William on the west coast. Each day we followed the shore line of one loch and then another, linking them by way of the Caledonian Canal. Each night we had arrived sodden at a campsite, and where possible, sought the warmth of a pub and taste of a beer. Where our quest was not possible, entertainment was gleamed from the less than imaginative use of cooked, sticky spaghetti, pieces of which re-appeared in tent and sleeping bags for months after.

When the day dawned for our trek up Ben Nevis at least it was dry, quite frankly this made a pleasant change. We set off in T-shirts along the Pony Track and whilst all week we had been walking alone, we now found that we had to share the trail with hordes of tourist, who in our mind had no right to be there. Walk 65 miles to the foot of a mountain and you might have some sympathy for this point of view. Above Lochan Mealt an t-Suidhe the path crossed a beck in a gully and here we decided to break free of the tourists and cut our own trail upwards in and along the fast flowing beck, clambering across boulders, scrambling around waterfalls; it was all good fun and far more interesting than the official route.

Eventually the gully shallowed and the water became a trickle, we bore a little to the right, picked up the Pony Track and ascended into the clouds.

It's a wonderful thing when you find snow in July. And it was impossible to let this opportunity go by without throwing a few snowballs. They were cold and wet, as apposed to the pasta which had been warm and wet. The snowballs had the benefit that they melted away, did not cling to your clothes and hair, and would not re-appear in garments months later. Something else that the "tourist" would never appreciate. How could they?

At the summit cairn we took it in turn to pose for photos in front of and on top of the trig point, congratulated ourselves and hunted for souvenirs; a small stones each for our efforts. Don't ask me what became of those pebbles, I have no idea, perhaps we should have rapped them in spaghetti.

Gully
Easy scrambling up the gulley and beck.

Snow
Making Snow balls.

Summit
Collecting souvenirs at the summit.