on the Cairngorms, and Failure
You learn more in failure than you ever do in success - Jay Z
I popped over to the Cairngorms for a bit of a ramble, and fair to say it was far from a success. I'll let the map below explain - red is the route I took, blue is the route I had planned to take:
I didn't get very far. There's a few key things I've taken away from this experience, which may be common sense, but somehow slipped under my radar:
Don't be too ambitious in making plans
My original route took me up two Cairns (mountains), round the Northern Corries (vallies) and then back to base camp on a 11km trek, with an aim to finish in 6 hours in order to catch the last bus back. 11km certainly didn't sound too far from the comfort of my warm bedroom as I plotted out my course, but as soon as I stepped on to the mountain, I knew instantly it was a no-go - the 40km winds and snow put a stop to any thoughts I had of summiting even one of the peaks, let alone both.
It's ok to give up
By this, I don't mean give up at the first sign of weakness. I mean take stock, consider all the options, and if turning back gives a better outcome than going forward, by all means take it. Being stubborn and sticking to a course is all very well and good, until you hit a snowdrift, break your leg, and die on a cold, cold mountain with no one to hear your final words.
Make sure the right tools are used for the job
Maybe the biggest issue I had was that I was wearing chinos. Nice, tight chinos. They look pretty good on the walk into uni, so they'll be able to handle a MOUNTAIN, right? Well, no, obviously. I could barely lift my legs, I overheated and was out of breath in a matter of minutes. Now, one lesson to take here is that under no circumstances are chinos suitable apparel for a mountain climb. Another, more general lesson, is to anticipate the environment and plan accordingly.
Don't underestimate the power of Mother Naitch
Oh my goodness gracious me was the wind strong. And the snow cold. And icy. And the view, while majestic, was also terrifying. It was shortly after I had planted my foot through a pile of snow I took for a rock, almost breaking my ankle, that I made the executive descision to leg it. It was one of those moments that puts you back in your place, telling you, in no uncertain terms, who runs the show around here. Lordy lor, it was a scary moment.
So, there we have it, as list of fairly obvious points that I really should have been more aware of. Still, though, you live and you learn. If all goes to plan, I'll be back up there again in a few months, better prepared and equipped, ready to take on the Carins once more. Just you watch me.
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