Regular readers will know a friend and I have been planning a big trip for a while. The idea is to travel coast to coast by foot and paddle over all 9 4,000ft mountains - the highest tops in the UK. We're fundraising for an outdoor learning scheme called the John Muir Award. We're due to leave on Friday 8th May.
After last months mostly beautiful weather, we were hoping for some more of this
Unfortunately, the new improved May weather has decided it's going to look quite alot more like this.
In the meantime, there's been some of this
and alot more of this
There are 3 pinch points: Cairn Mor Deag and it’s arête, the Aonachs and the Cairngorm 4K’ers west of the Lairig Ghru. But on each of these except perhaps the last, there are escape routes. We can use the pony track for Nevis if necessary, and make Cairn Mor Dearg a short day up and down from the CIC. We can give up on the plan to continue high on the Grey Corries from the Aonachs should the snow prove too much on the descent, and drop back down and walk through Glen Nevis. On the last, we’re posting extra food to our Dalwhinnie resupply point, meaning we can sit out a day’s bad weather in Glen Feshie before we get onto the plateau, should we need to. And of course, in each case, we can attempt to summit, and abort if conditions are too dangerous.
Right now, we're anxious about those conditions. I'd put our chances of completing a coast to coast at about 90%, and our chances of completing all 9 tops into the bargain at under 20% - not the odds we were looking for. But acceptance of possible failure is one thing, expecting it is another. Meeting the mountains on their own terms is key - with neither hesitation or blind ambition. I'd quite like to meet them without high winds, deep snow and a lingering cough as well, but that isn't going to happen.
Mmmm - suddenly this trip got quite serious.
A huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far to the John Muir Award - the donations keep coming in, the response has been really great. There's a good deal of need in other parts of the world right now, but if you can spare some extra change for those who could benefit from more contact with nature and the outdoors, please click here.
And if you can't manage to give anything right now, it's still worth a look at the Award. It's a great way of engaging more with the outdoors as a family or club. I've seen it work wonders. Check it out here.
Oh, and we'll try to post the odd tweet from @gridnorth and @selfpwrd when we're not being knocked to our knees in a hoolie. Wish us luck.