A couple of Ben's; The good and The bad

“Does anybody really think that they didn't get what they had because they didn't have the talent or the strength or the endurance or the commitment” ― Nelson Mandela

City Mountaineering

So, I’ve been trying to do as much training as I can. I can’t expect to hike up to 6,000m on a mountain without putting in the effort to be as fit as I can be.

That said, The only way to really train for hiking up a mountain, is by going up mountains. So, I thought there must be some London hiking groups going further afield and actually hiking up mountains in the UK without having to go abroad! It is then I found City Mountaineering.

The description of City Mountaineering trips was just what you needed:

- Where you had to meet and what time;

- What you were going to be doing;

- The level of fitness needed;

- When we were due back in London, and;

- The price, which was reasonable

Even the accommodation and food was sorted for us!

My eyes stopped onto one particular weekend trip: The Winter ascent of Ben Lomond.

Reading it made travelling to Scotland, summiting 2 mountains all in the space of a weekend without taking time off work so easy. I was in. My first time going to Scotland was arranged.

The Travel

Clear, precise, instructions were emailed through. Kit list was detailed, which luckily I had from Gran Paradiso and any other information that was needed was there.

We were to meet a guy in Euston train station at 6pm and, me being me, of course, got there 45 minutes early and, over the next hour, the rest of the group turned up and off we went. London Euston to Glasgow.

4.5 hours passed and we arrived. Stuart (the Mountain Leader) met us at the station, packed our luggage into the minibus, introductions were made and a swift exit to the hostel was underway.

An early departure was planned to drive to the Trossachs National Park, so a brief explanation was given and off to bed we all went

The Hiking - Day 1

Dressed prepared for hiking, we all made sure we had everything ready, the hiking rucksack packed with the lunch and snacks made for us by Stuart and water bottles filled. It was a hour drive to the national park.

Tuition was given about the crampons and ice axe which made me feel more at ease and even more ready to use them again. Hiking began.

I remember feeling so happy that I decided to join City Mountaineering to come to Scotland and hike.

The whole way up, I was completely blown away by the beauty that surrounded me. Gorgeous blue skies, beautiful sunshine, clear, turquoise lakes in the distance and snow covered terrain.

I was experiencing my version of heaven on Earth. At times, it was actually quite emotional. I felt so lucky to be alive and here.

Stuart, was such a good mountain leader. When the snow was waist deep, he would create a path so it was much easier to walk though.

Going up quite steep elevation, he would kick steps into the ice which would make it much less of a physical and mental challenge, also, he knew, traversing up in a zig zag with my right side facing the mountain was hard for me, physically, because of having the axe in my left arm, he would make sure I was ok without singling me out.

The summit was reached! I could have stayed there forever. It was absolutely glorious. The task of getting up there melted away. I could have flown up. I forgot the difficulties I had, how at times, the physicity that was needed, it didn’t matter. It was, incredible!

As we were coming down the sun was setting. Everyone had this glorious glow about them. You could tell how happy everyone was. We got back to the hut, showered, ate and rested our hiking legs.

The Hiking - Day 2

Ready to hike again. This time, Ben Narnain. In our hiking attire, bags packed into the minibus and off we went.

An hours drive to this mountain. Snow was in the air.

Stuart mentioned that the first part of this hike was much like a public path until we got through the tree line. After yesterday, we were all quite glad of the easier start.

Crampons were put on much earlier as the path was quite icy because of the amount of snow that they have has recently. Stuart had warned us that that a snowy front could happen while on the mountain. It did.