Munro with cancer #88

12th February 2017, Ben Dorian (M064), 3530ft, 1076m

Wind is hard work. On the summit ridge it was so strong that walking turned into a kind of mindful leaning. And yet at both cairns, the air was strangely still.

Just at the point where I thought it would be a sensible plan to don my crampons, I came upon a man sheltering in the lee of a house-sized boulder with his dog. The dog had just been squeezed into a very smart new jacket that he was trying to rub off by rolling in the snow. The man was putting on crampons. We walked together for the rest of the day, while the dog continued trying to rub off his new coat by rolling in the snow. It was good to have company under such extreme conditions and to share the spectacular views.





As I stood atop the highest cairn, surveying the panorama of snow and swirling clouds, my companion took the photo at the top of the page. At Carn Sasunaich, appropriately, I took this one of him and his dog.


We had both planned on climbing the neighbouring peak, Beinn an Dothaidh, but on the way back along the ridge, it was clear that our bodies had been sapped of all the energy they had for today, and we returned back down the path to Bridge of Orchy. We stopped at the same boulder to remove our crampons. The dog kept on his coat until the bottom of the hill. Looking back up the path, the clouds were right down and there was a lot of snow flying about. Coming off the mountain had been a wise decision.

It was an epic day that I was glad to have shared. It took me out of myself and put me in contact with the elements again. Pulled me away from the pits of despair and the furies of resentment. Brought peace to my mind, even under the onslaught of 50 mph of sidewind.



Author: Duncan Spence

Mountaineer, retired bicycle messenger, philosopher, wordsmith, proofreader, Dutch translator.

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