Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to Climb Ben Nevis in 12 Easy Steps

How to climb Ben Nevis via the challenging route (not the “tourist track”):

1. Convince a few friends to join you.

2. Start up the path.

3. Do your best to downplay the warnings from a random Scottish hillwalker who warns your friends that the route you’ve chosen for the group is “highly inadvisable” because of strong winds and cold temperatures.  Although you will fail, try to explain that he was mistaken.  Resign to the fact that the group has chosen the tourist route.

4. Break off from the main route to walk around the North face of Ben Nevis.  Despite the strong, cold wind, convince your reluctant friends to just walk a while this way, so as to at least see the North face before returning to the safe “tourist track”.

5. Stumble across some deer after rounding the corner.  The drop in wind and the deer will give your friends more motivation to let you press the group “just a bit further” up into the valley before turning around.

IMG_8008 6. Press on up the valley until the call of adventure, disappearance of wind, and warm sun all work together to persuade your friends that your originally planned route seems quite cool and the “tourist track” seems a bit lame.  Point out the awe-inspiring ridge path (ahead) that you will be walking.

7. Walk up the valley, then turn left and climb up the arduously steep slope to your first Munro of the day (Carn Mor Dearg).  This will take longer than you think, and will be exhausting.

8. Reach the top of Carn Mor Dearg, enjoy the view of Ben Nevis (background, below). 9. Scope out the ridgewalk that lies before you, while enjoying some of the most spectacular views you’ve ever seen.  Feel slightly vindicated by the warm sun and almost nonexistent wind.  Besmear the “tourist track” some more; thank your now enthusiastic friends for their (eventual) willingness to come this far superior route.

10. Carefully climb along the ridge.  This will take longer than you think.

11. Climb the last boulderfield up to the summit.  This is also exhausting.

12. Reach the summit of Ben Nevis, celebrate, and smile smugly at the hundreds of other hikers who came up the tourist route and are ignorant of the fantastic experience they have missed.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A busy month…

I sat down tonight to write a blog post and thought, “what’s happened since the last post?”  With a bit of reflection I realized: quite a lot, actually. 

We’ve had several weeks of AMAZING weather, which facilitate activities like taking walks on the golf course…

I accompanied a friend in running up and down the tallest mountain in the UK (yes, I said running), Ben Nevis (see http://zambiatriathlon.blogspot.com/ , particularly “stage 2”; it’s a 4,400 ft ascent and we summited in about 2 hours)…

(here’s the view from Ben Nevis)


My Mom and stepfather came for a visit and we toured around Scotland…

I coordinated several relay teams from the divinity school at St Andrews for the Edinburgh marathon (pictured below), and Sara and I both successfully completed our relay legs…


Sara, Kate and I went to a small coastal town (Auchmithie) on a beautiful day…

Kate watched her first Cubs game (well, not really, we don’t let her watch TV- but she was in the room and heard her first Cubs game)…


…and we went up to Aberdeen for the weekend to spend time with our friends, the Stratis family (blog at http://stratisfamily.blogspot.com/), where Kate and their daughter became friends.



On a completely different note… most of the time news about my academic work doesn’t make its way onto the blog (who wants to read “so today I read some books and did some writing”?), but a brief mention seems in order: a major journal will be publishing an article of mine this summer!  I’ll give more details once the volume has been printed and made public, but for now it’s just nice to share the news.