THEY say you should never meet your heroes - they’ll only leave you disappointed.
Try telling that to my pal Ken after his first visit to An Teallach.
This multi-peaked wonder of nature is not so much a mountain, more a mountain range.
Your eye is drawn to it as you drive along the A835 towards Ullapool, its soaring, spiked towers appearing on the skyline from miles away like a set from a fantasy film.
It has majestic summits, narrow ridges, incredible rock shapes and formations and a beautiful sparkling little loch tucked away at the foot of massive cliffs which sweep up from its shores.
It has a variety of routes in, each with their own touch of magic. There’s no doubt in my mind - it’s the finest mountain in the country.
So when Ken told me it had always been his dream to climb An Teallach I was in there like a shot to offer my services as mountain guide.
Having been round on every conceivable route, I decided that as a non-dangler and non-scrambler Ken might not appreciate the full ridge experience first time out. Besides I didn’t fancy taking the fall for him taking a fall and ending up having to face his missus.
No, the sensible thing would be to take him up the easiest route on to Bidein a’ Ghlas Thuill, the highest point of the range which provides the money shot of this mountain. Then, if he fancied being a bit more daring we could head over to Sgurr Fiona, the second Munro summit.
If he didn’t, well, we could pencil it in for next time, going for the route over the pinnacles from the other end. The full traverse is a serious undertaking, especially in winter conditions, and there have been a few fatalities on the ridge.
Anyway, when the weather gods are shining down on you, it’s better to take what they are offering.
It was warm and misty as we set off from the car, the mountain hidden behind veils of white cotton.
But during the approach, the mist started clearing, rock faces started appearing and we had wall to wall sunshine all the way to the ridge.
The views that open up on final climb up to Bidein’s summit come like a revelation. All the sweat and toil that has gone before is forgotten when the full beauty of your situation is revealed.
The view from the trig point was still being slightly obscured by wispy cloud, blowing around the main ridge like puffs of smoke from a smouldering volcano. An Teallach is Gaelic for The Forge and on days like this it’s easy to see how it got the name.
Suddenly the cloud blew away - and we were blown away as well. There was no way Ken was going any further. All the pictures he had seen of this magnificent mountain through the years were now laid out in front of him. He was awestruck.
“It’s like something from Lord of the Rings,” he said.
Normally I would be itching to head on to the next peak but today I was happy to sit in the sun trap at the summit for nearly an hour while he blazed away with his camera. This was bliss.
Anyway, I had a train to catch and this was only a fleeting visit. Hopefully it won’t be the last one.
So down we went. After all, Frodo had his precious pictures.
(First published Daily Record, June 13, 2013)