In support of our August Charity of the Month, representatives of ELDERJUICE climbed to the summit of Ben Nevis, the highest point in the UK.
After camping overnight in Glen Nevis, we set off at 7.00 am on the morning of August 2, along with four members of the Royal Gurkha Signals, four members of the DecAid Munro Mission team and some of their support team.
Grey fog and blue skies
As the highest peak in a formidable mountain range on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Ben Nevis can be treacherous even in the summer months.
For 300 days a year, the summit of the mountain is swathed in clouds, and as we set off in dense fog, it looked like we’d be lucky to see much more than the path under our feet.
Then, one third of the way up, we emerged into blue skies and sunshine, with a spectacular view of the mist-shrouded glens far below.
We soon lost sight of the DecAid team as they raced up the path en route to their first of eight Munros that day, although we did catch up with them at the summit.
The super-fit Gurkhas – half our age and looking as though they were out for a casual stroll along the local high street – patiently restrained themselves and politely accompanied us to the top.
They did set a cracking pace though, and we arrived at the summit around 9.40 am. This was pretty good going – most people take between three and half to five hours to reach the top of Ben Nevis.
Even in early August, it’s bitterly cold at four and a half thousand feet. But up on the roof of Scotland, visibility was unusually clear and the views sensational.
A long descent aided by walking poles
After the photoshoot and some food and drink, it was time to head back down the steep slopes (walking poles are highly recommended for this part of the journey; as well as transferring some of the load from your legs to your arms and shoulders, they ease pressure on your knees on the descent, and they help you keep your balance).
Climbing any of the Scottish Munros is an unforgettable experience – and even if you’re getting on a bit, as long as your legs are up to it and you’re reasonably fit, you might want to give it a try sometime.