5th July 2014, Ben Alder (M025), 3766ft, 1148m
The climb up Ben Alder was hard work. Starting at Ben Alder Bay on Loch Ericht, firstly I followed the burn to the boggy pass over to Culra Bothy and Lagganside, then picked out a route up onto the plateau via the South West shoulder. This is a massive mountain, standing almost alone in the middle of the Grampians, a vast plateau of grass and moss surrounded by steep round shoulders, magnificent corries and spectacular cliffs. When I was at the summit, light clouds were lingering in the morning air at about 3500ft with open skies above. I waited as they passed over and took many photos in an effort to depict the sheer enormity of what I was experiencing. This selfie in front of the summit cairn, looking towards Nevis, captures perhaps something of how overwhelmed I was with where I was and what I had achieved. Even though I had cancer, I could still get myself to places such as this and look out over the land.
4th July 2014, Sgor Gaibhre (M208), 3133ft, 955m
As I was climbing up the path to the summit of this mountain I was passed by a group of young people who were sitting at the top when I got there. They offered to take a photo of me with my camera. This rather self conscious seriousness is the result. In the background, Loch Ossian and the Nevis Ranges.
4th July 2014, Carn Dearg (M232), 3087ft, 941m
I did not take a photo of myself at the top of this mountain. I did not think to do so because I was not yet bagging Munros nor demanding of myself validation of this.
I took several from its slopes though. Among which the above long distance shot of the Fort William train clattering up the hill to Corrour Station past the lower slopes of Leum Uillem, near where Irvine Welsh took the characters of his Trainspotting, thereby germinating the epic rant from which the title of this blog is a quotation.
It is of course pure coincidence that this was the first Munro I climbed with cancer, for the idea for and title of the blog were yet to present themselves to me.
The previous day I parked at Rannoch Station and walked through wet summer rain over the path to Old Corrour Lodge, now a ruin, but once a substantial arrangement of buildings with a very fine prospect over the northern reaches of Rannoch Moor towards Nevis ranges and Mamores.
Here I pitched my tent and fell asleep, to be awakened by brilliant sunlight and clouds of midges. It felt good then to be back in the mountains after so many years away, under such challenging mental circumstances.