Mike Dunn, Dave Paterson, Eric Rice, Janice McKinlay and Cammy McMillan
Dave picked Janice and me up, and we were – Aff tae the camp in the country, Hooray, Hooray.
The usual hard toil up to the CIC from the North Face car park with heavy sacks, but Janice and Dave were game to carry on to Carn Mor Dearg leaving me alone in the hut. Over a bottle of beer the Muse descended upon me and I penned a poem in anticipation of Saturday’s outing (see end of report.)
Mike and Cammy arrived later through darkening mist with head torches. Surprisingly, we had the hut to ourselves both nights.
Next morning’s weather wasn’t promising – cloud down but rain clearing. Mike led Dave and me round to the gap behind the Douglas Boulder and we tackled Tower Ridge.
During the week I had said to Stuart Johnson, “I want to climb Tower Ridge again before I pop my clogs.” He replied, “I hope it doesn’t happen on the same day!”
Mike led, doing sterling work with the belays (thank goodness!) Dave mostly seconded and I thirded.
I don’t remember Tower being so hard – hands, feet, knees? and teeth! Must be getting older.
Twice, through the mist, we heard serious rockfalls – scary! In a chimney, I jammed my boot in a crevice. Eventually I had to take the boot off with solid support from Mike and Dave above.
Mike sent me, like a lamb to the slaughter, into the Gap to lead up the other side and set up a sling belay.
Miraculously it held and we scrambled to the top. On the summit plateau the cloud was clearing (one of the 60 days) and great views of the Mamores and Steall Waterfall were had.
A fitting climax to my rock climbing career, I swanked shamelessly round the cairn, still wearing helmet, harness and gear.
As the evening wore on in the CIC, we worried at the absence of Janice and Cammy who had gone to the Aonachs. But, just before we radioed the Rescue, they returned, tired but happy.
I fogot to mention that we found a bumble bee on the Eastern Traverse. Dave picked it up and took it down to the hut. He named it Ben the Bee, of course. It wouldn’t fly, and Janice thought it was dragging a back leg, but it seemed quite happy in a dish with some food. Ben lived for a few days on a sunflower in Irvine and passed away peacefully.
I left a copy of my poem in the Climbs Book.
(Heek uh-staaee – come intae the hoose.)
We cam na here tae sit aboot;
Oor feet were itchin tae get oot.
So kitted up wi gear an boots
We went tae tackle rocky routes.
We crossed th’Arȇte and then did Tower
Ridge afore the day wis ower.
A privilege it is tae ken
The North East Faces o the Ben.
Bit, efter aa the day’ hard slog
O’er jaggy rocks an stinkin bog,
There’s nae a finer place tae be
Than cosy in the C.I.C.
* * *
(Aye, OK, we didna cross the Arȇte – poetic license.
Selfies – I mean photies by Dave Paterson.)