Monday, 17 February 2014

The Top of the Ben

We hadn't intended to climb to the top of Ben Hiant yesterday, and were even more wary after the sudden snowstorm had caught us on its southern flank.  At such times, we do think carefully about our safety, not so much for ourselves as for the trouble we would put any rescuers to if we did have a fall.

That said, once we'd climbed the gully and found ourselves on the track that follows the ridge to the summit, with the sky clear and the going underfoot, while slippery, not dangerous, we made the decision to start the last section.

As we climbed, pausing more than once to decide whether it was safe to continue, we looked northwards across Beinn an Leathaid towards the snow-capped mountains of Rum and the darker profile of Eigg.

Up to this point the patches of older snow had been pristine but, as we approached the summit, it was clear that a man and his small dog had been there recently.  Tramping up through the snow, we felt a bit like Scott, beaten to the south pole by Amundsen and his dogs.

 This picture of the ben's summit, with its trig point and a large cairn of stones, looks up Loch Sunart, and gives some idea of how fierce the winds have been up here.

This one looks in the opposite direction, westwards towards the end of the peninsula, with the village of Kilchoan in the middle distance.  The highest peak is Beinn na Seilg.

Ben Hiant, like  most of our higher points, has a small pool of water by its summit.  It would be a challenge for someone in the summer to see how many summits they could visit in one day, and take a bath at the top of each.

There is something truly magical about standing at the top of a high hill or mountain and enjoying the views.  Somehow it takes one away from the day-to-day, it refreshes.  And, of course, there's that sense of achievement at making it to the top, a sense heightened as one gets older and wonders for how much longer we'll be able to do this, particularly when faced with a snowy, slippery path down.

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