I have memories of being scared of many things…I was one of those kids.
The most vivid was an incident since termed “The Teeth”.
I was four and learning to suck air from a tube with my head under water. Is this drowning?…No, Dad says this is called snorkeling and “it’s fun”. I’m unconvinced – it’s freezing and I can’t breath. Suddenly I’m chased down by a set of false teeth – the stuff of nightmares!
“Dad!! Daaaaddd!!! Daaaaaddd!!!”
I clamber on to his back thinking he’ll protect me…
To my horror he pushes me off, gasping for air as he starts to drown. “It’s jelly fish Rosie, not teeth.” A string of small white jellyfish in the water ahead of us danced through the current and was easily mistaken for a chomping set of dentures. Did he really think that answer would ease my fears?
Teeth or jellyfish, it was a frightfully scarring experience.
Tackling the Mamores range in the Highlands, I found myself making comparisons to this childhood freak-out moment as we scrambled along the An Gearanach Ridge through a strong cross breeze.
“Jeff, Jeeefff, Jeff!!”
“I’m scared of heights, why did you bring me up here? There’s no path, I’m going to be blown off!”
“It’s OK Rosie, use you hands, get down low” – great, acknowledgement of the current danger and impending doom.
“I never thought I’d say this Jeff, but this is scarier than The Teeth”. Now he knows I’m serious, nothing has ever been worse than The Teeth.
I thought if I died on the trail it would be heart attack, fatigue, complications of anemia or maybe hypothermia. But I didn’t think of falling off a cliff. Jeff’s theory for phobia resolution is exposure. I think he’s cruel. I’m dragged up the hill kicking and screaming, way out of my comfort zone.
It was easy to see why our friend James had recommend the Ring of Steall to us. With spectacular views of Ben Nevis and an exciting circumnavigation of a range unlike anything we’d ever seen.
After an hour of slow scrambling and hyperventilation, we get just past the peak of the first munro when the path stops. We reach (what appears in my mind) a shear cliff face requiring an un-secured rock climb above a 300m drop. Finally Jeff agrees with my pleas, it’s time to call it a day and turn back. The Ring of Steall will have to be bagged another time.
Although I had a day of terror and torture, I was grateful. Jeff knows how to challenge me, how far to push, and how to coach me through when I’m in hysterics. He makes me do things I’d never do alone. A partner who helps you to learn and grow is special indeed – thanks Bud.
Now to plot my revenge…
Written by Rosie
The Ring of Steall
Obviously we only recommend this route for those with a head for heights and some scrambling experience.
Staying at Fort William at the Ben Nevis Bunkhouse (ok, but don’t stay there too long, it will get to you), we decided to forgoe climbing Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, in favour of heading to this ambitious mountain trail in the Mamores range. A little hard to get to, you need to either taxi or drive 15 mins out of Fort William to the end of Glen Nevis, but well worth it. Even though we didn’t make it through the full ring route, the views of the surrounding ranges were spectacular and it was much more exciting than Ben Nevis apparently is.
Take a map.
Difficulty: Well… we didnt make it, but plenty do.