Right then. An early start. It was our third munroe, and so far, the only thing that Malcolm (Mr Burns to you) and myself had seen was scotch mist. But things were looking up and the sun had come to help chase us along.
We stood at the base and watched a mountaineering party striking out left to do a technical ascent while chatting chap who had just come off the hill. As he gave us a few tips, a couple of boys with ice axes barged passed. What’s the hurry, I thought.
About an hour later, Malcolm and I cruised past the axe men. They were struggling, red-faced and toiling in the heat. I surpressed the desire to say something cheeky, but instead, we said “Keep going chaps, you’re doing well. It’s a cracking day isn’t it?”.
A missed opportunity? One time when during a trail race, my legs gave out and I couldn’t run any more. A chap in his late 50s came by and said “C’mon, we’re nearly finished. It’s barely a mile to go. Run with me” I did and five minutes later I found some energy. “Now you’re moving, go for it” he said, and pushed me forward. I moved ahead and finished strong. I waited at the finish line to cheer him home.
And that’s why, as I passed Axe one and Axe two, I kept it upbeat and offered encouragement. Good manners on the trails is a rule that pre-dates the Country Code.
On the day, we got some good advice from a couple of seasoned climbers who told us to put Nevis (“Easy pal, I saw a chap going up it wearing sandles”) and Ben More (“Don’t park by the farm. The farmer does his nut”) on our list. They also had tales of doing the Five Sisters, which sounded amazing, and is not as rude as you think!
To date, I find more good grace and banter half way up a mountain, than I do in a crowded street.
It turned out that Malcolm had legs of steel on the Buchaille and he lead the way to the best day’s hiking I’d ever had. We felt unstoppable, and the fact that I had a groin strain, and Malcolm was spluttering severely from what was, at that time, undiagnosed Asthma, barely registered.
So the next time you have a spot of man flu or there’s a blister that’s keeping you on the sidelines, take look at the likes of Jamie Andrew. Then put your boots on.
If you feel like giving the Buchaille a shot, all you need can be found here http://bit.ly/a4Lwxq