Day 28 – Mountain Memories & The Peace Within

Today, Sunday the 27th of November, brought me some peace.

Well it wasn’t brought to me … I searched it out … through an old tried and tested method for me – I went hiking.

I grew up in the remote Scottish Highlands and spent incredible amount of time hiking. Whenever the school holidays would come along I would grab my kit and tell my mother I was off for a week or two. Sometimes with mates. But one unforgettable and fantastic fortnight when I was sixteen – all alone. I spent a fortnight making my way across to the west coast and back through Lairg to home, sleeping outside under a tarp and not using any roads. I caught absolute hell from my mother for not telling her what I was doing – she had assumed that I went with mates. But the freedom and strength of character that I garnered from doing such a thing at that age still lies within me. Sometimes I think it was the ONLY worthwhile thing I have ever done.

On that and other trips I took many chances on mountains … really stupid chances. As I grew older and became more experienced and learnt a lot more regarding the correct way to hike … it actually slowed me down. If I ever thought the weather was going to be less than favourable then it was a no go. The weather is the killer on Scottish mountains. And I would never take chances. I stopped hiking alone. Its always recommended to hike in a group. It got to the stage where one year I only completed 3 Munros … and they were Munros I had already completed.

However over the last few years I have become quite adventurous again. But I hadn’t been up a mountain here yet. And I am living with right on my doorstep! Nothing too impressive … Why is that? Its on a par with the highest mountains in the UK regarding its height. The reasons are actually obvious – when you go mountain hiking in Scotland you generally start not that much higher than sea level – whereas here the surrounding areas are already at 600 odd metres high anyway. Also the terrain is far more treacherous on scottish mountains – scree, boulder scrambling, quite often no path etc. Its not like that here … this is alpine territory so even when you are at above 1200 metres your still surrounded by trees. Perhaps that is why when on a Scottish Mountain there is a far more vertiginous feel to it … ie if you slip and falter you are going a long way down. Here you are going to be very unlucky if a tree doesn’t break your descent after only a few metres.

Map3d

So I went up this Saleve yesterday and it was very easy and very safe and I was a bit disappointed by it. I climbed and reached a grassy plateau on top and as I walked further on I came across a road with loads of cars on it. Thats another thing about Scottish mountains – there is none of that going on.

But it was good to get the blood pumping and some elevation – The last time I was this height was Ben Wyvis in Scotland 5 weeks ago. I was thinking about how much more an effort that seemed to have been when I looked up and saw the magnificent sweep of the French/Swiss alps … It was breathtaking. Even this late in the year Mt Blanc seemed to be the only one with a covering of snow – it has been incredibly mild here apparently.

IMG 5155

It just reminded me that it takes a lot more elevation round these parts to attain the look of Scottish mountains – but when the elevation is there they look incredibly impressive.

spent a total of 8 hrs and I pretty much hiked the Saleve from one end to the other.

When I told my landlord he said I was crazy, that I should never go alone, that I should always check the weather, and blah, blah, blah.

Itfaceno

I have found an online resource for all the routes up there and Im gonna tread that place to death in the next couple of weeks … then Im gonna start thinking about the mountains on which I really do need to heed caution.

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3 comments on “Day 28 – Mountain Memories & The Peace Within

  1. Wow, I am so envious! Just the statement ‘I grew up in the remote Scottish Highlands’…how very cool.
    I really need a day like this, just grab a pack and disappear completely alone for the entire day.
    Really nice post, you made me want to be you.

  2. Hey funny to see you here Alex 😀

    Wow man looks like you have a lot of experience indeed! How many munros have you climbed? (If you counted :D). And now you are in the Alps. What a great place to be.
    I never did a hike in the wild alone. It happened that I was walking alone for hours but I had always a friend ahead or behind me. I don’t know if I’ll ever hike alone, I know it’s easy to get injured 😛 Cool photo and I like the scan of the map too 🙂

    • Ive only done about 30 Munros – There are people out there in Scotland who will only go up a hill if it is a Munro -Im certainly not one of them! Munro, Greame, Corbet, whatever! Its not important what height it is – its the feeling it gives you. As for my experience level? Im not sure … I started hiking early in the Fannichs as they were on the doorstep almost of my childhood home! And when you are young you dont really pay attention to potential dangers! Personally I would love to go on a Winter Mountain Skills Course … Im definitely going to need it here afterall … But they can be expensive …Oh Well! You have got such great photos on your blog!!!!!!!!!!!

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