Saturday 21st March 2020
It was 3 weeks to the day that we first attempted to summit Gael Charn. On that occasion, we were blown straight off the mountain in a complete white out just before reaching the summit. At the time I was hugely disappointed, if I start something I like to complete it and as we were so close to this summit I felt like we could complete it but safety had to come first and we turned back.
Today we were facing very new conditions and circumstances. COVID-19. Listening to advice from health officials we have been following protocol and taking things very seriously and trying to do things as safe as we can.
We have been social distancing, (some might say we have been doing this for a while anyway, way before the corona-virus came to the forefront), keeping away from others and not going out to public places unless needed.
Today we weighed up the pro’s and con’s of a Munro.
After taking everything into account from a social distancing perspective we decided to attempt Gael Charn for a second time.
We felt we had made a sensible decision based on a few things, it was probably a ‘not on people’s list’ Munro so would be quieter, we knew several lay-by’s that we could park the car in away from others and we had brought food supplies with us so we would not be stopping at shops etc on the way up or down thus keeping well away from others and being safe.
Today, mountain weather forecast said 90% chance of a cloud free Munro.
We arrived at our planned lay-by which had a few other cars in it, spread out sensibly from one another. After assessing the situation in terms of looking along the road to see how many other cars were around (there were a possible 7) and thinking that there are several Munro’s to be doing in this area, the unlikelihood that everyone was doing the same Munro was limited, we decided to go for it.
We started our climb.
As we headed up we were soon in amongst the snow.
It felt fresh and it felt like freedom to be able to walk fearless, knowing no-one was around as you could see for miles around.
We seemed to have the mountain to ourselves.
It felt good to enjoy the mental well-being of fresh air for now. We took full advantage as things in the very near future may change.
As we headed upwards the wind picked up into gale-force speed, it felt like deja-vu minus the whiteout of three weeks ago!
Today was wild, it was windy but it felt wonderful and it certainly helped to put the worries to one side for a moment.
As I climbed I began to think about our current climate. I began making comparisons about what was happening in the world right now to climbing those mountains that I choose to climb.
When I think back to climbing Mount Elbrus, especially in the early days when I initially signed up to climb her and then on finally climbing her I thought about how my outlook and mindset had changed, how I had to change and adapt to circumstances.
Before stepping foot on that mountain I had loads of self doubt. I feared what lay ahead. I never for one minute could get my head around thinking that I could possibly summit her. One might say I had a negative mind set. In order to change that I changed my thinking. I put strategies into place. I trained, I thought positively, I told myself it was achievable, I had a vision and I saw the end result.
On that mountain I took one day at a time. On Saturday 6th July 2019, summit day, I took every single strenuous step one at a time, counting each and every single one of those steps for well over a 17 hour long period of continuous walking….it seemed like forever, never ending.
So I suppose what I am trying to say is, the path ahead might look like an upward struggle, something unachievable, like its never coming to an end…like my mountain. But it will end, there will be light at the top of that climb, and it will feel good, just picture that view and feel that freedom!
We eventually reached the summit, and although very windy what a beautiful view we had.
It was absolutely stunning, not at all what I expected. We saw snow covered mountains for miles and miles…it was such a sight, such a treat and a massive reminder that our world is still a beautiful place even in amongst all this turmoil.
I read a comment somewhere by someone which basically said that while we are all panicking about COVID-19, mother earth is healing due to the many lock-downs around the world – something positive to take from such a negative situation.
Due to stricter regulations coming in every day now, I am not sure when we will get back out there but in the meantime…..
Think of others.