Sounds like the basis for a film!
Jim paired me with Nathan on my first trip with nineonesix in March 2013 in the Cairngorms.
Having found someone as professional and patient a guide in Nathan I was keen to ‘use’ him again and remarkably he agreed!
This year, I wanted to explore the Torridon hills ….some gully climbing, ridge work and if time scrambling / easy rock climbing…we achieved all three!
The weather ..archetypal Scotland…4 seasons each day and a large dump of snow on the tops the night of day1.
Day 1 ….the relatively long walk in to the triple buttress’s of Beinn Eighe and a climb in good snow conditions up the steep Far West Gully known as Fuselage gully. The confidence that Nathan gave me and my own confidence in my crampon points ( unlike last year!) meant I raced ( well my version of racing!) up some of the steeper parts as the weather changed from overcast, to very cloudy, to sleet and then snow with an increasing squally wind.
Climbing over the Lancaster wreckage felt a little eerie and I could not help but feel a little sad as I thought of the airmen who perished here in March 1951.
The steep walk out down the rocks and scree of the south side of Coinneach Mhor tested thighs and knees but a beer in the Torridon Inn helped the healing process!
Day 2 was going to be the West to East traverse of Liathach, however the wet heavy and sometimes deep overnight snow and driving snow from an easterly wind made for a long arduous initial climb up to the summit of Mullach an Rathain. I am afraid, the cold and tiredness and the prospect of at least 4/5 hours walking into the wind and snow meant this soft southerner elected to ‘bail’ and leave the traverse for another day
.Nathan was very supportive of my decision as I shared with him an old hot air balloonist’s mantra…’better to be down here wishing you were up there, than to be up there wishing you were down here!’
We started a relatively long walk out down steep snow covered scree and rock but a few hours later the sun began to shine and the wind started to ease!…. what was all that mantra nonsense! but then just a we neared the car a massive hail storm which tested the strength of our climbing helmets!!
Day 3 ..my last day ..which I left to Nathan to decide with Jim’s help.
Scrambling and rock climbing by the sea in Diabaig.
Jim provided a hand drawn map to supplement which did bear some resemblance to the terrain and rock formations and the printed map!
Rain to start, then sunshine all the way with fantastic views across to Skye from the top of Meall Ceann na Creige.
So, a very enjoyable time, sometimes testing of skill and resolve but expertly led by Nathan.
Next year the plan is to invade Skye…and surprisingly, Nathan is happy to guide me again!!
He, Jim and nineonesix really to care about client satisfaction and delivering a programme that does that and more!
blog written by Nick Godfrey