Today I was up Ben Nevis with Justyna and her 3 clients from Poland on a long weekend to Scotland. But through various reasons it ended up being just myself and Justyna by the top of ziz zag 3 with the others descending sooner.
It always surprises me how quickly the weather can change. Yesterday the mountain was very alpine, with firm old snow, dry rock, and 20 degrees. Today after the low front has passed over last night there was fresh snow down to 500m, 5 degrees and felt more like January on the tops than April.
It was a busy mountain today with many people making a summit attempt: most of them not getting there and the few pushing on through ignorance.
I felt very overdressed in my hill clothing, crampons, axe and winter boots as only one other guided party were kited out the same and only a handful of people with just axes, all walking into a blizzard. The dress for the day was trainers, jeans/track suit bottoms and hoodies with some rucksacks.
After chatting to a few people, pointing out their mismatch clothing to the surroundings they were in, they all decided to ignore the advice and continue on anyway, just following iced up footprints and heading up.
On the walk down I tried to think of a similar life example where this sort of attitude would apply. The one I came up with was if I was walking in a fully insulated suit, crampons, ice axe with no bag or water in the Sahara desert and bumped into a local Bedouin riding his camel going in the opposite directing. He then says, ‘if you carry on like that you will die of dehydration in half and day’. And I walk past him and continue, thinking I’ve come this far…..
We are in the privileged position in this country that everyone has a right to be in the mountains, we don’t have to pay a park fee, or buy permits, or have to have recreational mountain insurance. But somehow there is a gap in the flow of education of what is safe to do in the mountains.