Day 2 – Just because the tunnel has corners doesn’t mean the light isn’t at the end!
I woke in high spirits and opened the tent door to a view, which made up for our unfortunate start. Directly facing Ben Nevis I squatted over and tried to wee into the wind (a shewee would NOT have been great in this situation! it was far too windy and I fear it would have created a sprinkler effect upon leaving the spout).
One hearty porridge and sultana breakfast later we packed our things and began our day. After a couple of hours’ slog over a rocky ridge we reached our first Munro Mullach nan Coirean (3077ft). I was elated. This was definitely my cup of tea and I was itching to get going. Due to the long days we decided to snack on energy gels and cereal bars throughout the day and had bought some dried food and a couple of those wet food pouches for camping in the evenings. Cliff bars and gel blocks are a lifesaver; I will be stocking up for climbing trips. We shared a few bars for refueling and got going to the next Munro, Stob Ban (3250 ft). This Munro is epic in image, looming over us in a grey stony heap, daring us to climb it. This was quite a scrambly ascent, which definitely got the heart pounding and had me unzipping my waterproofs! On the top of Stob Ban we could view the rest of the days’ ascents. We continued down a very steep descent, my walking poles being a real knee saver here. We reached a fresh water pool, which fed into a fast running stream and greedily guzzled a good amount and re filled our hydration packs and emergency water bottle. The ascent that proceeded was a long grueling zigzag of a slog that ended on the third Munro Sgorr an Iubhair (3250 ft),
It was at the top of this when we realised how hard this challenge would be and admitted to ourselves that we would not be able to complete the round in the time allocated. We were less than half way in distance through the first day and it was already approaching 3pm. We consulted the map and agreed to follow the path along the majority of the day’s route, but rather than double back on ourselves and continue we would slip down into the valley and up the other side the next day and continue the route there, basically cutting the round in half. This decision was not done lightly and it was quite hard to admit defeat. It does bring home how we have to respect these huge dominating mountains and the power and beauty they hold and sometimes hold up the white flag. Even though we made this decision we still had a lot to complete, so soldiered on.
We powered up the next Munro, Am Bodach (3382 ft), passing great looking climbing spots including a stepped over hang and realised that the approach may be a bit too long for most to consider! At the top I could feel exhaustion creep in and we scoffed a few more energy blocks and oatcakes. It was then that I realised I had not had a wee all day and how dehydrated I must be. It is so important to keep drinking and, if wild camping, knowing when you can collect water. After a good guzzle we made the decline to the base of the next Munro. It was here that we passed a rainbow that straddled an adjacent ridge. Such beautiful sights make you realise why you put your body and mind through such hard work. It came at just the right time and egged me on to the top of the last two Munros of the day Stob Coire a Chairn (3219 ft) and An Gearanach (3200ft). We walked down a steep rocky path for another hour before finding a suitable camping spot. After a panic of losing the matches and lighter (and then finding them, doh), scoffing a beef stew and cous cous dinner, we zipped up out tent and bags and pretty much passed out.