It went dark a long, long time ago and we are still walking. My boots are full of water, the result of sinking into a bog, weighed down by my rucksack full of climbing gear. Looking back I can see John’s head torch bobbing along behind me. He is heading for the same bog I just fell into. Part of me wants to call out and warning but the majority of me is just too tired. I plod on, lost in my world are aching legs and exhaustion, wondering idly if John will find a bog.
Then there is a cry, ‘Oh, for f**k sake!’ He found the bog.
We are two old men, retreating from a failed winter climb on Anoch Beag, a mountain near Ben Nevis in the Scottish Highlands. We should have known better. It’s December and the Highland days are fleeting, desperately short. It had seemed such a good idea. Early snow brought the mountains alive and, as we walked into the climb, morning sun had touch the summits and turned them crimson. The North East Ridge of Anoch Beag is a hidden gem of a route, tucked away in a distant Corrie. Our plan was to catch the cable car to the ski runs on the Mountain and that way save us a very long walk in.
‘Closed for maintenance, John reads the sign on the ticket office door twice, just so I am sure the first time hasn't been a mistake. We look up at longingly at the gondolas, swaying silently in the early morning breeze. Their inaccessibility means only one thing, a long walk.