IT’S never nice to see one of your walking partners injured and unable to get out on the hills. But it can be quite handy sometimes.
One of the great joys of the big mountain days is the walk through. Unfortunately, that usually means you are left miles from your starting point with limited means of getting back.
Enter our injured friend. After all the sympathies have been expressed about what a shame it is that they are missing out on a great day, you can realise the potential of this unexpected turn of events.
Now it doesn’t have to be a round trip - you have a ready made driver at your behest. They can drop you off at your starting point and then pick you up at the other end. Perfect.
It may sound cruel but one person’s misfortune becomes a source of pure joy for the rest of the party.
That’s the way it worked out for us when we set off up the Grey Corries ridge at Spean Bridge.
Normally it’s a round of eight peaks in a huge horseshoe bringing you back to your car via a forest track. But with a crocked mate on hand, we could walk over the main peaks and instead of turning right at the penultimate top, carry on in the opposite direction taking in another Munro, Sgurr Choinnich Mor, and then descending through Glen Nevis where our unfortunate chaffeur would be waiting.
After all, the walk past Steall Falls and into Glen Nevis gorge is the perfect way to end any day.
It was bright and promising on the lower slopes as we set off on the big pull on up to the first Munro, Stob Choire Claurigh. But the predicted high pressure window had so far failed to materialise at this level and the cloud was still hiding this summit.
The final slopes were covered with hard packed snow and we needed ice axes and bit of step kicking in places on the rocks of the narrow arete. Our timing was good though, and the sun finally broke free of its shackles as we hit the top.
The rest of the ridge was completed in superb visibility - now it was on to the extra peak that our fallen friend had given us the opportunity to climb. But if we thought we were escaping scot-free for our treachery we were mistaken.
Sgurr Choinnich Mor is a big, pointy beast when tackled from the north and the amount of snow along its ridge line gave us plenty of food for thought.
We edged along a knife edge of deep, melting snow with big drops on either side never quite sure if or when the whole lot was going to collapse taking us with it.
The sheer adrenaline, along with the blazing sun, had us sweating buckets and we were mightily relieved to hit the summit and leave the snow behind.
Suitably chastened, we made our way down Glen Nevis, but by the time we had reached the falls the swagger was back in our step.
Until that is our crocked pal came looking for us because we were more than an hour overdue.
“Such a shame you couldn’t have made it.” We meant that - and then again we didn’t.
After all, friends are important, but a lift home is often even more so.
(First published Daily Record, May 30, 2013)