So, the first summit and I was very much looking forward to this! The day before on the Thursday I (along with my friend, co-walker and hospitality provider, Barry) drove to the car park at the bottom of the ascent to have a look, just to familiarize ourselves with the location. It was a super day weather wise, providing me with some picture perfect images of the start of the climb.
Preparations done, we set off the next morning at 8.30am and arrived at the car park half an hour later and off we went. As previous contributors have said, the track is like a motorway (even in mid November) with people going up and down regularly as well as plenty of squaddies jogging with full packs and heavy looking rifles – thank god national service has been stopped! To a man they all said “good morning” as they breezed past and they didn’t even look as if they were breaking into a sweat!
Which I was! Various layers of clothing found there way into the backpack as I started puffing – clear evidence of a total lack of fitness. The pathway was pretty much frozen and in places the terrain had to be navigated carefully but all in all it was pretty straightforward, dare I say “boring”, until we reached the base of Corn Du and took the footpath to the right leading to the “knife edge”. By this time, the clothing that had found its way into my backpack was now back on, plus other items! And it was at this point that the first of the things that I had to address when I got back came to my realization – I needed gloves!
The cloud base descended very quickly as we followed the pathway and very soon it was difficult to see more than a few feet in front of us. We strayed off course and a check of the map and GPS indicated that the summit was directly to our left so, abandoning the track, we started the ascent to the top. The GPS indicated that the summit was 35 feet away – it might well have been 350 because we couldn’t see it!
This was the steepest part, almost climbing on our hands and knees but suddenly, we were there! And it was cold and it was windy and it was very cloudy! We found the stone mound and checked the altitude and then identified the nearest patch of grass that would take the pegs for the guying ropes for the SOTA beam, and then we set up! It took no more than 5 minutes to get everything ready and at just after midday, I called CQ. 16 Q’s in just over half an hour and a couple of them over quite a distance – 5w from a handheld into a SOTA beam at that altitude certainly makes a difference!
It became clear at this time that the next activation would require some more equipment namely gloves, a walking pole/stick, something to sit on, and contact lenses instead of glasses (my glasses were frozen!) Notwithstanding that, I called CQ for the last time and with nothing heard, we packed up and started the descent as quickly as we could. In the cloud it was a little tricky finding the path until we reached the base of Corn Du and then it was plain sailing back down.
As a first ever summit I am glad that I chose this one due to its relative ease, I will do this one again in the summer months if for no other reason than to see the views which I am sure are splendid from the top however I get the feeling that in the summer time, this summit is going to resemble the first day of the Harrods sale!