Sunday, 1 June 2008

Highland Life

Some rain whispers across the mountains of Ardgour. Taken from the Nevis Plateau.

Living in the highlands is proving a most interesting experience, with the differences to life in the city more pronounced than either of us really expected. One of the most interesting aspects is that people much less often have a single working occupation. It seems that there is much interesting work to be had, appearing seemingly out of nowhere and offering opportunities that would be extremely hard to come by elsewhere. This situation fits perfectly with an outdoor sporting regime. Also, it allows you to sample lots of different types of work. If you liked any one more than the others, you could just do that. But more often than not, it’s the actual variety itself that provides the appeal.

Looking down Loch Linnhe from Ben Nevis

I took two days out of my normal occupational spectrum to do some labouring work. But rather interesting labouring work (more on that later). Some friends needed to mix a lot of concrete in a short time, and figured I may be useful. It ended up being three days because Claire ended up double booked as a camera woman and I stood in yesterday for one of the jobs, filming the Ten Under the Ben mountain bike endurance race. While I filmed 900 riders belting around the Lochaber forests under the fierce sunshine, Claire was filming a wheelchair race up Ben Nevis for ITV.

I still tried to go climbing after my labouring shift on Friday, but on arrival at Echo Wall at tea time I judged myself to be too wasted to climb. Instead I went for a vertical wander elsewhere on the mountain and spotted an amazing winter project I am now utterly inspired by. It would also be a 4 star route in summer and maybe E7 or E8. But I decided to leave it alone and try it onsight in winter first.

Coming down that evening I could really feel energy levels were very spent. So I’ve put some time into eating a lot to get back to a point where I can touch a small hold and want to pull on it, rather than groan at the thought of pulling on it!

Winter ice gradually receding to reveal the Lochan in Coire na Ciste.

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