The day was friday & we left the lecture dreariness behind us. The aim was the The Ben, but with no such thing as a car we headed to Aberdeen where we heard there was one. So George Sq drizzle was swapped for M-whatever east coast megabus drizzle, and us cursing the expense of the trains.
But when we arrived- we found we were wrong. A drivable car waiting to be driven but a boy with a sniffle and protective & downright corrupt mother bribing us all to stay instead with tables heaped with food and unlimited guinnesses and a warm fire. But our nobility held firm and William ushered her into a sideroom with his soothing oldmanofthemontains words & the morning after we were off before dawn thru snowy fields bright with starlight.
But she was right and he was ill and only half way up carn mor dearg with him half a mile behind us, stumbling through the dirty whiteness did we see & by this time he wouldn’t go back anyway despite our jibes and he’d already eaten the bag of crisps and all the dried peaches that was all our food, so we thought we’d might as well wait.
On the top of CMD Meadonach, looking across to the N face of the Ben- there, is that Observatory? Hard to tell when yr looking straight on… no no it’s the long climb line, no a ridge at all… the Orion Direct, imagine! But he still wasn’t here and we couldn’t even hear him coughing yet, so knew we had a wait still. The way looked hard… if that’s the N face over there, the CMD arrete’s this way, and this step here over these ver glassed slabs could have us down to the CIC! I’d better look down said William and I came with him. I tried sidling down but it was hard and ended up sliding down on crampon points hoping I’d meet fresh and friendly snow in those few feet hidden by the mist and did and was relieved. But with my worry the cloud cleared too & behind me directly did the Big Black Ben come out thru the mist. And there we were picking out Minus1 direct from a boulder 2 feet high and 5 feet away from our faces and realising with a shiver we were stood right on the E face of CMD Meadonach. Retreat retreat- and by this time even the sickly mothered boy Richard was up and now he was laughing at me, and I shambled back up the slabs, and rejoined the obvious highway thinking about if the cloud hadn’t cleared.
We trundled across the arrete and swam up to the plateau, to take the standard ecstatic roof-of-Britain photographs. But we’d driven in from Aberdeen so naturally now it was getting dark, so down again, after looking down Gully No.2 that we got avalanched out of last year and being happy with its steepness.
Richard said he was too ill descend gully 4, and Matt was a man and admitted the fear that Richard couldn’t, but seeing as neither of them knew the way down and it was now night proper, William reckoned they could-not-be-trusted to not throw themselves down five fingers, and claimed chaperone as I soloed (steep up top) back down to the car. But as it happened, William didn’t know the way down either and they were lost and late, with Richards’s mutterings turning nasty. But someone knew the cure, and we headed to Fort Fish Suppers.