Yesterday was an incredible day I was programmed to go down to The Clachaig Inn Glencoe for a Mountain Safety Lecture as part of their series. It is only 3 weeks since my operation and I felt pretty bad before I left on the long drive to Glencoe. I took a couple of painkillers and set of it was marvellous day weather wise. It was one that screamed in my head to be out in the mountains, but not yet. I had to go via the local Hospital at Elgin for an appointment but on arrival I was a month ahead how daft I felt, old age has caught up! I had not been further than Elgin or Forres since Christmas so it would be interesting to see how I felt?
I was picking up an old ice Chounaird Ice Hammer that I had lent to a good friend Big Kev in Aviemore to donate to the Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection run by Mick Tighe in Roybridge on the way home! The drive across the Dava Moor was even better than normal, there was still plenty of snow about but the Cairngorms especially Bynock Mor were looking splendid. I stopped three times to drink it all in. The backdrop of this at times bleak moor with a sparkling Cairngorms glistening in the sun was incredible. It was a sight I have often seen but today it was incredible, the light and colours were breath taking. I felt the power of nature and the fresh air recharge the batteries and mind. I was soon at my friend Kev’s house at High Burnside in Aviemore and the views of the Northern Corries were even better. I had a moan about my body falling apart a brew and a cake and with the ice axe was on my way. I stopped again to see another old friend at the Tuck Shop in Newtonmore and we had a natter and then the great journey to Lagganside began. The A9 was busy but quite and I was soon on the Laggan road and the views got better. Creagh Dubh just outside Newtonmore was looking Alpine and is a great peak in winter. The famous waterfall was just water in the thaw there was little ice about, a few deer ran across the road in front of my car but I was going slowly and enjoying every minute. There were only a few cars about and Creag Meaghaidaidh was looking amazing in its winter mantle and was clear to see the great window (saddle) that divides the peaks. It looked truly Alpine with the massive snow fields and the sun giving such scale to a wild place. As soon as I passed Roybridge the cloud was down and it was a great East / West divide but I caught glimpses of the great cliffs of Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor. The cloud was down when I reached Fort William.
It was late in the afternoon when I arrived at the Inchree Chalets and Bunkhouse where I had booked a room for the night and had a great catch up with Val, Paddy and met the new baby and Justina. It was great to catch up and I felt good and after getting sorted out I went to see Hamish MacIness in Glencoe the legend of the Glen. I had not told Hamish I was coming in case I was not up to it but I was soon in Glencoe and was knocking at the big house. Hamish has not been well last time I saw him and now in his 80’s he opened the door. He was looking great and had that sparkle in his eye and I knew we would have a great chat. He was full of energy and I had taken him another North Wall Hammer that he had designed in the mid 60’s after a tragic accident on Zero Gully on Ben Nevis when three climbers were killed in an ascent on Zero gully in the late 50’s. It was a wonderful time spent and we even had a phone call from the States where Hamish and I spoke to an old friend Doug Tomkins who Hamish had climbed with in the 60’s and 70’s. Hamish showed me his new stretchers, he was full of ideas and his plans for the future. He has just done a short film with Chris Bonnington, he is very proud off and we spoke the world of Rescue, the new helicopters and Mountain Rescue and SARDA. He has a weight bench and told me that he always trained that was news to me, even in the 40 and 50’s he lifted weights, when climbers did not do these things. I sadly had to leave and get ready for my lecture that evening and managed to update with a photo of the great man with his wild jumper. Hamish really gave me a buzz and I better and he spoke how much he appreciated the help of good friends during a difficult time, as I appreciate as well. I left him smiling with his usual quip get a new car and set off for the lecture.
I arrived at the Clachaig getting stopped by a climber asking if I had seen his mates who were on the hill it was pitch dark and cloudy but I saw the lights coming down slowly and it was a mild night, they would be fine. The Clachaig Inn is a great place I have had so many wonderful nights here in the past and the chat would be in the lounge and arrived an hour before to set up. I was surprised to see Bill Rose and his wife who had arrived from Killin great friends in Mountain Rescue and we caught up with life. I was a bit worried as this was my first gig for a while but more friends arrived Billy and Terry also from Killin and soon the place filled up. In the end it was packed about 120 I counted before we started and it was full of climbers and skiers. It was very hot and only a few left at the interval and it seemed a great night by all, they were a great crowd and I think it went well and a few messages were passed on! There was a raffle for Glencoe MRT and the event was sponsored by Mammut and Nevis sport and it was great to see that big companies are taking part in promoting Mountain Safety. I got some great questions later on and enjoyed the crack and the room smelt full of outdoor people. I left in time to get back for my first half pint in over a month and a quick chat to Paddy and Susan at Inchree then a shower and bed.
Today I will try to get a walk and hope the weather clears and then head home, I am still buzzing after a great day, meeting so many old friends and sharing so many stories and to back amongst Mountain people is great medicine. I will stop and drop of my axes to Mick Tighe and enjoy the journey home. I do need a new car as Hamish said but as long as she keeps going I hopefully will cope. It is a dull day but the birds are singing and a bit colder of for breakfast then a wee walk.
Thanks to all at the Clachaig , Mamutt and Nevisport for such a great night and of course to Hamish !