Ben Nevis
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We had discussed in advance the proposed route up Ben Nevis , planning on taking the traditional route from the YHA. However a few days before the off, Jim met a bloke in the pub in Bristol who recommended going up the back of Ben Nevis from Glen Nevis. We turned up took a quick look and decided it was a goer, so relocated one car back to visitor centre. George and Joff made it back with 35 seconds to spare, time to badger a couple of old ladies to take a quick team photo, and then we set off up through the bushes. It was quite a steep ascent, but paid dividends with the first great view at the first stop, after around 30 minutes. It was also great to see the car park shrinking.

 Having negotiated the first steep ascent and a couple of small brooks, we headed off to the right hand side of the cliff that reared up in front of us. By now we could see where the cloud line started, checking the GPS revealed that the next section was straight up through the boulder field into the clouds. In some ways this was easier going as their was not the boggy wet grass under foot and being so steep we could use our hands and arms to share the burden with now tiring legs. The boulder field did present a concern that any moment one of us would step on the wrong rock and start a rock fall. There were a few anxious moments when things moved a bit too much under foot but nothing major let go. (George, thanks for the catch when I fell a few feet, Andy).

 Eventually the slope levelled out and we found ourselves on the summit plateau at 18:09 BST. We all gathered on the summit for handshakes, photos & phone calls to loved ones. 2 hours and 9 minutes for ascent of Ben Nevis , many thanks to the bloke in Bristol pub, we had started well. Even being late June it was cold on the summit and jackets were donned to keep the wind off (by those who had them, I think Mark missed the list of recommended kit to bring).

 After a few minutes on the summit we headed off down the mountain at quite a brisk pace, jogging where the path allowed. We had decided to come back down the more traditional route (via zigzag path to YHA bridge). Having said that you can see from the GPS track that we took every shortcut available, and a few that werenít. It was interesting to find that it was still hard work on the way down, although working different muscle groups. The main difference was the ability to keep going more, with fewer stops required for rest and refreshment. Once out of the clouds visibility was good as was progress.

 Mark took one shortcut too many and appeared out the bottom of a bush then fell 20 feet down a water soaked slab. This reminded me of seeing a cat sliding off a tin roof, claws out desperately scrabbling for grip, panicking that it may soon be down to 8 lives. He was lucky and it only resulted in a small cut to knee and some bruises.

 We rang Joff on the way down and asked him to bring a car up to the YHA instead of the visitor centre as originally planned, the thought of the extra kilometre walking didnít appeal. Having done that we took another short cut through the bushes that meant we missed the turning for the YHA path, after a short debate on whether to press on to the visitor centre we agreed to turn back and head for YHA path. In a strange way it was nice to be going uphill again, must be using the different muscle groups that had not been used for a couple of hours during the descent.

Once we saw the bridge the pace again picked up to a run, we arrived back at the bridge at 19:52 BST 1 hour and 36 minutes after leaving summit and 3 hours 52 minutes after staring ascent. All 8 of us squeezed into the Renault Espace, for the short trip back to the other car at the visitor centre. We had a quick change into fresh clothes for the motorway, grabbed some food and fresh drinks. We may have liked to take longer before pressing on but were forced to get into the cars, by the thousands of notorious summer Scottish midges, coming out for their evening feed.