Munro with cancer #7

22nd April 2015, An Sgarsoch (M126), 3301ft, 1006m

Between Carn an Fidhlier and this mountain there is a substantial drop into a boggy bealach. The descent is in shadow and holds an increasingly unstable cornice. During the ascent on the sun side, assorted amphibians seemed to grow out of the ground with the heat. At the top I surveyed the familiar profile of the Cairngorms to the north and contemplated the next day’s journey. I found a camp on the northern slopes in a damp little hollow that was warmed immediately by the morning sunrise.

Munro with cancer #3

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.

Munro with cancer #1

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.


A Wilderness of Peace

"Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant." - They ravage, they slaughter, they plunder, and they falsely name it "empire"; they make a wilderness, and call it "peace."

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