It may surprise a few readers that I have never actually wild camped or bivvi’d before now.
With our Eiger Mittellegi ridge adventure planned for May training is now well under way on a a number of areas like fitness, rope work, knowledge and also experience.. the one thing you cant read about or buy!
To get the experience ball rolling , and address the post Christmas/house move fitness hurdle Davy Wright and I planned a night of bivvng and then a day of climbing on and around Ben Nevis’ North face. It is winter after all and the routes will be in awesome condition right? No.
With VERY unseasonable high temperatures for January (11° C anyone!) The Ben along with most of the other central and west highlands had shed its first winter coat and rock was the order of the day.
Decisions to be made then. While rock is fun we decided with a Bivvi as part of the plan to opt instead for the Carn mor Dearg (CMD) arete with a night on the lower slopes of the CMD.
So arrived in Fort William about 6, grabbed a quick dinner then headed up to the North Car park for the slog up to the Ben (I’m sure it gets longer every time I do it) . Packed and dressed for winter , our packs weighing what felt like a small child we (well I) huffed and puffed our way up the hill, stripped down to baselayers until we found the expected small level plateau at about 500m.
This is Scotland, January, at 8pm and its 9 degrees!
For me it was also a great chance to test some gear – look out for the gear test reports VERY soon.
We set up , bedded down and then tried to got some kip before waking at around 6am to start the days walking.
For anyone who’s not done it before a bivvi is a a unique experience. I have to admit i was a little unsure of how I would feel being “exposed” to the elements (and creepy crawlies) .. would I get wet, would I freeze etc.
The reality is amazing!
The bag itself felt solid and together with the Thermarest and new down bag , on soft ground, made for a pretty comfy night.
Lying looking up in the near pitch dark seeing then ocean of stars (between clouds) was truly amazing. I gazed at them for an age and before I know it nodded off – relishing how good it was to be truly away from it all on a Friday night rather than in the pub or feet up in front of the TV as has been my recent activity …
After an early rise setting off to CMD summit and the ridge – note the bare Ben !
Yes.. you wake up now and then.. slide about 6 feet downhill and lose hats, torches and 1 elusive glove in the bag and yes going for a pee requires some effort and is bloody cold but I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the outdoors and a little bit of adventure!
Awake at 6.30.. up and about to get warm then back into the bag to get some grub to fuel the day.davy being the true outdoor fanatic he is has pre prepared porridge midge in these extra tough zip lock bags that you can pour boiling water straight into.
Brew on, porridge made and belgian chocolate brownie going down well we were good to head off.
As the sun came up we were treated to one of the most stunning cloud inversions I have ever seen . Simply couldn’t stop looking at it but the hill beckons so off we head.
We finished off the day with a walk along the CMD Arete – a big day and with a cheeky steep 200m ascent to finish you off up to the Ben summit plateau.
Davy Wright on the ridge.
What better way to get a mini adventure out of 24 hours!