Friday, December 19

Ben Nevis

Pity the Brits, who don't have a really good mountain to fortify their self-image. This morning I listen to a BBC reporter at 300 feet altitude (it was reported) interviewing a mountain "expert" about the perils of climbing this time of year. On queue, he presents a pick-ax for "those tricky situations" noting slyly that "one must know how to use one [a pick axe] properly in an adverse situation." From there, we are told, how to use a pick axe. And crampons. The only trouble being: Ben Nevis (here, pictured with the local bus heading for the top) is our highest mountain at 1,344 meters. No doubt it is a handsome pile and lovely to walk especially in the summer-time when one can have a cup of tea at the summit (OK, this a bit rich- the summit was manned all year 'round from 1883 to 1904 while today the station remains presenting an opportunity for Starbucks. No kidding- 100,000 ascents per year- ka ching). The mountain is located at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area of Scottland near Fort Williams, which Sonnet and I know all too well. We went their for Eitan's first birthday assuming the overnight Caladonian Sleeper departing London's Euston station would somehow be romantic. It wasn't. Back to Ben Nevis: I intended to hike to the top with Eitan in a toddler backpack - this despite the pouring September rain. Fortunately I somehow came to my senses (Sonnet) and we did local walks and there are some marvelous photographs of me and Sonnet in ponchos pushing about a rather confused Eitan in a water cloaked buggy. Our broadaster winds up by telling us: "be prepared for some blustery weather and whatever you do, make sure to take care if you are out in the wilderness." (Photo uncredited from the www)