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Nostalgia Nexus - early and pre-digital discussion Want to discuss the really early days of digital and even film - here is the place for you.

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Old 15th March 2013
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Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

I've posted this in "Nostalgia Nexus" because all the pictures were taken on various Olympus film cameras, either OM1n, OM4Ti, or 35RC compact.

Iain and Steve's recent pictures of An Teallach in the thread Crisp and Clear Wester Ross really struck a chord with me, because An Teallach is the hill that I most regret not climbing whilst I was able and had the opportunity. Foolishly I was saving it for my last Munro and that never happened. Iain and Steve's wonderfull pictures prompted me to dig out and re-read an article that I wrote several years ago, potentially for an outdoor magazine, but never submitted for publication as I didn't consider it to be quite good enough. However, I thought I'd indulge myself now and inflict it upon my fellow members of this forum! To avoid this opening post from being too long I'll include just the text and present the pictures in the next post.


I have a recurring dream. Itís the start of a hot day in May, but just before dawn the air is still chilled by the icy emptiness of a cloudless night. Although the sky is clear the valleys are filled with the muffled stillness of a thick fog blanket that hugs the ground, yet to be stirred by the sun which is not due to rise for another thirty minutes. Itís darker than normal for the hour at this time of year, due to the fog, and I tentatively make my way through the gloom along the track in Gleann Chaorachain, up towards the as yet unseen soaring ridge of An Teallach.

An Teallach is the mountain that I most regret not to have climbed while I had the opportunity. It was a conscious decision, made after the first fifty or so Munros, to save this one for last. I was concerned that if I bagged all the best summits early in my campaign there was a danger that my completion might be an anticlimax. To finish on Bidein aí Ghlas Thuill, the highest point of one of the very finest mountains, would be anything but disappointing if done on the right day. In fact, it promised to reward me with perhaps the purest, most complete and exhilarating mountain day of all as a fitting end to my quest.

My dream continues. By now I have gained the summit of Sail Liath and I pause to survey with eager anticipation the awesome, exciting and enticing ridge that now stretches a formidable mile ahead to Sgurr Fiona, the first of two Munros allocated to the mountain. Itís an hour since I broke through the clammy mist that now slowly ebbs and flows some 1000 feet below, crashing against the rocks in slow motion like a fantasy sea from an Anne McCaffrey novel. All that is missing is a flight of dragons, soaring around the magnificent primeval peaks that stretch to the limits of my vision in all directions, linking me almost tangibly with the dawn of creation. This, without question, is a day for life.

Sadly it is just a dream, a broken recurring dream that always ends at this point and is unlikely ever to become a reality. What happened to dash my hopes and destroy my ambitions? A combination of circumstances conspired to deny me. First my knees let me down, capitulating to the enormous strain of regular hillwalking, peak-bagging and backpacking, often carrying more camera equipment than was prudent or sustainable in addition to all the usual gear.

Recovery from the inevitable operations was slow and in the meantime I became distracted by the usual life cycle of marriage, raising a family and work commitments. Soon I was in a vicious circle of not having enough time to do the walking I wanted, then on occasions when I did get time finding I had lost too much fitness to do it. My Munro tally stalled at 137, although I had at least completed the 408 English and Welsh 2000 foot summits, as listed and defined by George Bridge.

The weight piled on to my ever expanding waistline and stress levels at work soared, but I told myself that if only I could hang on a few more years until retirement things would be alright. The plan was that I would then have time to slowly rebuild my fitness and return once more to the mountain life that I loved and was part of my soul. However, I didnít plan for Parkinsonís Disease and because of that I have to accept that my Munro quest is over. I would gladly exchange all my remaining days, however many that might be, for just one perfect day of cloudless sunshine and my former fitness to traverse An Teallach.

Despite all the obvious regrets I do count my blessings and am grateful for all the mountain days I enjoyed whilst I was able. Although I no longer frequent the hills I do have many precious memories to recall whenever I have a few moments to myself. I settle in my chair with a generous malt whisky beside me and an Ordnance Survey map spread on my lap and reminisce; Iím still very much a hillwalker, albeit only an armchair one!

I dim the lights, drain my glass and close my eyes, allowing the map to slide slowly to the floor. Almost immediately I am back on Bein Alligin, an absolutely stunning hill that I am climbing on a day which will ultimately deliver far more than it initially promises. Just to start the climb on such a foul morning is a test of resolve. Sure, I have climbed hills many times before in similar conditions or worse, but it seems a shame to climb such a splendid mountain without experiencing the breathtaking views for which it is renowned. However, rain this early in the day does come with a glimmer of hope that it might clear later. Unfortunately, by the halfway point on the ascent the rain is significantly worse and seeming unlikely to change except, perhaps, for a further deterioration. A hastily convened conference with my companions almost results in a strategic retreat, but we eventually agree it would be a shame having come so far. We will press on to the summit, then if things donít improve we will retrace our steps leaving the coveted Horns of Alligin for a better day.

Our perseverance is richly rewarded as just below the summit the weather undergoes a most spectacular and unexpected transformation. The clouds part in an almost biblical act of theatre, allowing sunlight to flood the now open vista across the magnificent Torridon wilderness as the rain abruptly ceases. Our traverse of the Horns is savoured and appreciated all the more for this divine benevolence. At this point I awake to find my wife gently shaking me; apparently I am snoring.

I reposition myself in the chair and reclaim the map from the floor before pouring another whisky. I study the bottom of the tumbler through a gently swirling haze of amber fluid and soon Iím starting out for another Torridon giant of which I have fond memories, Beinne Eighe. This time Iím alone and backpacking. The aim is a leisurely ascent of the mountain and all itís ridges and tops, spread over three days. My objective for this afternoon is simply to establish camp in Coire Mhic Fhearchair where I will spend two nights.
The day is warm and overcast in a benign, non-threatening way. The gentle ascent is uneventful, except for pausing for a brief chat with a couple travelling in the opposite direction, as it happens the last people I will encounter for three days. Just below the rim of the coire I become increasingly aware of the ominous, threatening clouds that have built during the last hour. I would at least like to get the tent pitched first if there is to be any rain, but a sudden clap of thunder makes this seem wishful thinking. However, the threat abates as the cloud retreats and the sun bursts through, casting spectacular light across the rough bounds to the north-west.
This being late May, the sun rises from the north-east and sets in the north-west and it is only early or late in the day during the summer months that the imposing Triple Buttress benefits fully from its illumination. A camp at this magnificent location should be enjoyed by every hill-goer at least once and today it is my turn. I pitch my tent, cook a leisurely meal whilst enjoying the warmth of the sun and take some photographs, first of the lochain and buttress, then later of the sunset from the coire rim.

Following a peaceful night I awake to a clear morning with glorious reflections of the buttress on the placid lochain. There is time to take a few more photographs before starting the real ascent of the mountain, with a light pack to aid progress. I climb quickly out of the coire to the left, as I look at it, of the Triple Buttress, a route that rapidly steepens as I approach the col. From here I head north to the actual Munro, Ruadh-stac Mhor, which stands apart from the main ridge. There are still five tops to account for and I spend a pleasant and leisurely day wandering back and forth along the spine of the mountain for this purpose, although I do pass on the opportunity to take the Corbet, Ruadh-stac Beag, as well.

By the time I am ready to return to my tent the weather has closed in with visibility severely restricted by the cool, dank cloud in which I am now enveloped. I start my descent into Coire Mhic Fhearchair with some trepidation as I do not want to get this wrong. However, although hard on the knees the descent is in fact straightforward and before long Iím back at the tent.

I stir in my chair, having slouched into an uncomfortable position; itís well past midnight and really is time to go to bed. Maybe there I will dream again. Maybe I will be back on An Teallach, pausing once again on Sail Liath to savour the route ahead. Maybe this time I will actually traverse the magnificent ridge to Sgurr Fiona and, ultimately, Bidein aí Ghlas Thuill, for so long my final destination. Who knows, maybe I wonít wake up? My Completion awaits.


Pictures to follow.
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Old 15th March 2013
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

In my opening post I recounted my memories of just two of my favourite Munros, Beinn Alligin Beinn Eighe. Here are a few pictures.

View from near the summit of Beinn Alligin (Sgurr Mhor) of "the Horns" with Beinn Dearg (just short of Munro status but non the worse for that) immediately behind and Beinn Eighe in the far distance. Liathach just creeps in on the right of this picture.

img546 e r s by John Perriment, on Flickr


Baosbheinn, another magnificent hill just short of 3000 feet, seen across Loch a Bhealaich from Beinn Alligin.

img537 e r s by John Perriment, on Flickr


Beinn Eighe from the north (two pictures)

img533 e r s by John Perriment, on Flickr


img531 e r s by John Perriment, on Flickr


The Tripple Buttress of Beinn Eighe from Coire Mhic Fhearchair.

img541 e r s by John Perriment, on Flickr


Threatening sky, from Coire Mhic Fhearcair

BOOK CL 4 by John Perriment, on Flickr


Sunset from Choire Mhich Fhearchair.

img529 e c r by John Perriment, on Flickr
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Old 15th March 2013
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

Here are a few more from the hills.


Blackrock Cottage and Buchaille Etive Mor.

img530 e c r s by John Perriment, on Flickr


Glencoe and Bidean nam Bian

img544 e r s by John Perriment, on Flickr


Carn Mor Dearg Arete, leading on to Ben Nevis

img547 e r s by John Perriment, on Flickr


Hillwalkers on Ben Nevis

BDOPC 100 by John Perriment, on Flickr


Classic winter hillwalking on Beinn Dubchraig.



Near-whiteout on Ben More, Mull.

img538 e c r s by John Perriment, on Flickr


Luxury accomodation for the night, a snow-hole above 3000 ft in the Cairngorms in February.

img539 e c r s by John Perriment, on Flickr


Coire Dhorrcail, Ladhar Bheinn, Knoydart.

img535 e c r s by John Perriment, on Flickr
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Old 15th March 2013
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

John, that is a beautifully descriptive and poignant piece of writing and some splendid images to go with it. I have done some hill walking in the many years I have been resident in Scotland but have never been entirely comfortable with the height and exposure of some of these fantastic mountains. My last venture up a Munro was about 3 years ago now and was in fact Beinn Alligin, horns first, not long after losing most of the sight in my right eye. With my depth perception somewhat impaired I was even less confident than I had previously been and am now more than happy to take my photos from down below looking up, though much of the drama and magnificance of the views is lost from this aspect. Your kind comments about Iain's and my images are very much appreciated and I hope they help bring back some fond memories of your good times up here in addition to your regrets about An Teallach.
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

Steve, seconded

John so VERY enjoyable and YOU SLEPT IN A SNOW HOLE :
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

Celebration Time!

On 26th March 1989 I had the honour of accompanying my friend, Chris Willaims, on the ascent of Ben Lui, his last Munro. It was a foul, wet day, which was pity because unbeknown to Chris we had arranged for a local piper who lived in Tyndrum to accompany us on the first part of the route. We could have postponed the occasion, of course, but it was the last day of our holiday and Chris was keen to finish the job!


img545 e c r s by John Perriment, on Flickr


There was no view from the summit and celebrations were brief and to the point because it was not the type of day to hang around!


img543 e c r s by John Perriment, on Flickr


At least we had enjoyed a fine view of Ben Lui five days before, when we had climbed neighbouring Beinn Dubhchraig. This picture features Chris's nephew, David.


BDOPC 101 by John Perriment, on Flickr


As I said earlier, I never got to finish my Munros and have long lamented not climbing An Teallach in particular. However, I did enjoy a somewhat less momentous celebration on 25th November 1989 when I climbed Harter Fell in Dunnerdale, The Lake District, to complete the 408 summits above 2000 ft in England and Wales, as listed by George Bridge in his book, "The Mountains of England and Wales." At the trig point just below the summit I was presented with a bottle of champagne and a mini cake to divide up. I am on the right of the picture. Happy days!


img542 e c r s by John Perriment, on Flickr
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by stoates View Post
John, that is a beautifully descriptive and poignant piece of writing and some splendid images to go with it. I have done some hill walking in the many years I have been resident in Scotland but have never been entirely comfortable with the height and exposure of some of these fantastic mountains. My last venture up a Munro was about 3 years ago now and was in fact Beinn Alligin, horns first, not long after losing most of the sight in my right eye. With my depth perception somewhat impaired I was even less confident than I had previously been and am now more than happy to take my photos from down below looking up, though much of the drama and magnificance of the views is lost from this aspect. Your kind comments about Iain's and my images are very much appreciated and I hope they help bring back some fond memories of your good times up here in addition to your regrets about An Teallach.
Hi Steve, sorry to hear that you have lost most the sight in your eye, I can appreciate how that would impair your ability and judgement in the hills. Forunately it obviously doen't affect your photography too much because you really do produce some fantastic images!
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevvyf1 View Post
Steve, seconded

John so VERY enjoyable and YOU SLEPT IN A SNOW HOLE :
Yes, part of the Winter Hillwalking course I did at Glenmore Lodge was a two day expedition onto the Cairngorm plateau, which involved a night spent in snow holes that we had to dig ourselves in pairs. That was my partner standing at the entrance to our abode; I'm sorry to say I cannot remember his name.
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zuiko View Post
Yes, part of the Winter Hillwalking course I did at Glenmore Lodge was a two day expedition onto the Cairngorm plateau, which involved a night spent in snow holes that we had to dig ourselves in pairs. That was my partner standing at the entrance to our abode; I'm sorry to say I cannot remember his name.
John, I have to ask, what was the outside temp ?

and was it warmer in the snow hole ?

What the the temp in the snow hole ?

sorry for all the questions, but I am fascinated - I was lucky and got taken off the mountain, before light went, but nearly had to sleep in a snow hole ... when I was young
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevvyf1 View Post
John, I have to ask, what was the outside temp ?

and was it warmer in the snow hole ?

What the the temp in the snow hole ?

sorry for all the questions, but I am fascinated - I was lucky and got taken off the mountain, before light went, but nearly had to sleep in a snow hole ... when I was young
Hi Chevy,

I've no idea what the temperature was, but it was well below freezing plus a significant wind chill factor. However, we got quite warm digging the holes because it was hard work. Once inside it was still cold, as you would expect, but the wind chill was no longer relevant and it did warm up a little (or at least became less cold) when we had the stove going.

From a survival point of view I'm not sure how relevant it was because we were well equipped with sleeping bags, foam mats, food and fuel. We also had real shovels (which weighed a ton) rather than the usual fold-up snow shovels normally sold in walking shops. However, it did indicate that a snow hole could make the difference between life and death if benighted for any reason, as long as plenty of extra warm clothing and a survival bag were carried.

After an hour or two in our holes the instructor came around to check we were all OK. Apparently we were the only pair who had got straight into our sleeping bags before cooking tea and were freezing. I suppose as a regular winter camper getting straight in the bag to conserve body heat was obvious; even so I made the mistake of leaving my boots outside the bag. By morning they were frozen solid and I had to thaw them a little over the stove before I could even get them on. Once on, I felt them instantly drain the heat from my feet and I had a very uncomfortable day with my feet very close to frost-nip, even if not frost-bite. I woudn't make that mistake again!
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

John, thanks for this info

Glad we got off the mountain as no nightie or washbag
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

Beautiful post, John, in so many ways. And I take it to heart, for just this past month have inherited a spinal condition that almost certainly means last summer's hiking in the wilderness was my last. So many mountains left unclimbed , except in our dreams! Thank you for sharing your treasured adventures. Your mates were lucky to have you for a hiking partner.
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

Fantastic pictures - especially the first set.
Good on you and good post.
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

John, I think you should hyave suibmitted that to an outdoor magazine. It's a lovely piece, and reminds us all to do what we can when we can because health is so precious. The photographs are stunning and as usual put mine to shame. It also brings back memories of when Dave and I were young, particularly the arete (which scared me).
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Re: Mountain Dreams - Warning, Long Post

Beautifully written with some stunning photographs, I too think you should share this get it sent to a magazine. Once again thanks for the insight .
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