On the Lancet Ridge

On the Lancet Ridge

Intense was the feeling that I came away with after a week in the Ben Alder region.


Intense situations: a knife edge ridge, snow covered mountains to the horizons, night navigation to leave the area, crossing frozen burns


Intense cold: -2 to -7 degrees average outdoor temperatures; 0 to 2 degrees average indoor; breaking ice to draw water; the lingering feeling of cold in the bones


Intense emotionally: taking responsibility for another person in a real wilderness situation; assessing avalanche hazards; and the long, interminable nights


I would be lying if I did not admit that I am weary from the cumulative experience of the last three weeks. Perhaps it was the lack of a rest day for over a week. Really, it is being apart from family and having a lot of comforts and norms stripped away. Yet something in me keeps me to the task of seeing this Winter Mountain Leader award through to completion.


There were many moments of sublime consciousness, seeing things in nature and the landscape that evoked deep thoughts. I will not share these at this point, not to multiply those from last time. I simply share one from the extraction walk.


We left the bothy at 4:00am to commence the five hour trudge to the road, walking by the light of headtorches with wind-driven snow falling around us. In the beam of my torch snowflakes scudded past, too fast for the eye to recognise an individual form. Instead, the flakes took on the appearance of acetate film strips, the white of the flakes forming the perforations of the 35mm film. Multiple layers of strips, white on black, carved across my field of vision. I walked onwards, engrossed in the small cinematic world of one; a banal, yet strangely involved activity of night walking, finally, and thankfully, broken by the watery winter dawn.


Torridon was supposed to be next up on the list, but has been postponed because of high winds. We head into the back of Glencoe tomorrow, mindful of those who lost their lives recently, but eager for what our adventure will bring us.


Ben Alder Forest

Ben Alder Forest


Simon is the Morocco Director and an instructor with The Mountain People. He is currently preparing for his Winter Mountain Leader assessment, as chronicled by the ‘Highland Hobo’ series.

Categories: Blog, NGBs, Personal, Simon, Winter
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