It’s something we can never know. Even knowing the route doesn’t mean knowing the journey, or more importantly the destination.
A sunny September day, after a lovely night camping saw us on the Aonach Eagach ridge. We’d been thinking about it for a while and set out with nervous excitement knowing it has a reputation for narrow, airy exposure and some of the best scrambling in the UK.
We set off, we enjoyed the views across Glencoe, we relished the scrambling and the tricky down-climbing and narrow winding ridge path high above the “Glen of Weeping”. As we passed people we said hello and as they passed us, in particular one swiftly moving lady in her 50’s, we moved aside and traded the usual hill greetings.
Our path meandered, left and right and of course down and up. We thought we knew where we were headed. We weren’t to know.
A slip and a fall.
An instant of a decision and the destination changed forever. “Someone’s fallen” was the call. We arrived. We saw the prone figure lying below the pinnacles . It was the lady that had passed us.
I called Mountain Rescue. They arrived. They did what they do best. This time it was a recovery not a rescue. It was very quick they said.
Sam watched it all for a long time while I coordinated via my phone, talked through details. checked grid references, agreed to meet the police at the end of the route. Sam watched and I didn’t. Even as she roped up and led a group of shaken walkers over the now more menacing pinnacles. She watched and that image made a mark. Became a companion. And joins her on every route now. A sad, unwelcome companion.
A decision to go around the pinnacles, not over. One decision.
The journey changed forever.