It is always difficult to motivate yourself on the Sunday of a weekend away if you have had a long and hard day on the Saturday. So with this in mind it was 10.30 am when Rick, Colin, Mark Rothwell, New Mark, Young Will and myself old Mark got out of the cars in Glencoe to head towards Dorsal Arete in Stob Corrie Lochan.
Needless to say we could not park in the nearest car park due to our late start. We did however recieve some vital information and advice from a minibus driver. I said good morning to him and his advice followed, " it gets cold up there " he said pointing exactly towards our mountain. Incredable I thought I am glad he's told me that I didn't realise Scotland could be cold during January. Then he dropped the bomb shell "as col as -37 degrees" Holy crap that is cold I thought and quickly put some additional clothing in my rucksack and said a silentprayer for all our safe return from this frozen hell we were about to enter.
Young Will looked unsettled but all credit to him did not cry or at least I didn't see him cry, he just shouldered his rucksack and tried to keep up with Rick. I later found Young Will on the path ahead crying and mumbling something about why does Rick walk so fast for an oldish man who is bordering on the obese (not my words may I add but Ricks own Doctor)
We eventually arrived at the slopes below Dorsal Arete and Young Will asked the question "are we going to climb in the clouds?" To which I replied "of course not young one we climb on the snow, ice and rock which can be sometimes surrounded by the clouds" Young Will seemed settled by my wise answer.
All six of us arrived at the start of the climb where a girl and man where waiting to follow their leader up the first pitch. In front of this team of three was another team of three. I started to engage the couple in friendly banter and in my opinion built an excellent understanding of our different cultures in such a short time as they were Scottish and were of course are English and mere visitors to their lands. Little did I know that there was one amongst us who was plotting to unravel all my hard work, but more of him later.
At this point I feel I need to advise all MOB members that if a climb is to be attempted rope colour and partner names are of vital importance. So with three identical green ropes and three climbers called Mark we set of up the first pitch, Rick lead Young Will and myself we had one Mark and one green rope. The other members of our party had two green ropes and two Marks and one Colin unlucky I thought. Rick set of and climbed all over the ropes of the team in front with a complete disregard for safety or common courtesy and ruined all my hard work in building bridges with the locals at the start oft he climb. I have to say at this point I see myself as a bridges man and Rick as a Fences man. It was a hostile and frightening situation when I arrived at the first belay and I am not talking about the weather. I did ask the rest of our party if anybody thought the temperature had dropped to -37 yet ,no was our joint opinion so at least the weather was on our side.
Confusion and disgraceful rope management followed at one stage five of our party were attached to two of the green ropes. Rick was belayed and Young Will, New Mark, Mark Rothwell Colin and Myself were tied into two green ropes I blamed Colin and everybody else agreed. We discovered that it was now 2.45pm and I flipped and told everyone that I had to get off the climb I had had enough and did not fancy walking of the hill in the dark for a second day and wanted to go home. Within a couple of minutes I had stolen a spare green rope and god knows we had enough of the green ropes to spare me one and I was heading into the gully. Rick thought that he could complete the climb as there was only one more proper pitch to go but I had all the slings and was too busy sliding down ropes to climb up to him and hand over the slings.
We all arrived in the gully safe New Mark having just completed his first absail ever. We gathered ourselves and headed down the hill to arrive at the car park in the dark.
On the journey back it was agreed that we should all change our names by depoll to Mark and buy a green rope each there is no point being slightly confused when you can be completely confused in any given mountain situation
This article does not represent any person real or otherwise or any situation that happened or did not happen.
Written by Mark Davies the owner of a green rope.
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