On this day, along with Beatrix my border collie, I headed to Glen Lyon to tackle Ben Lawers. Knowing there’d still be lots of snow up the mountains, I’d packed layers of clothes, crampons, ample food, Kendal Mint Cake and a flask of hot tea.
Ben Lawers is the 10th highest Munro. To get to its summit, you first climb another Munro, Beinn Ghlas, climbing two for the price of one.
We had a wonderful time climbing up Beinn Ghlas, playing in the stream and rolling stones down the icy, snowy slopes (Beatrix, not me of course).
The views were amazing, mountains as far as the eye could see. With crampons on I was able to climb relatively safely in the snow and ice, but always taking each step carefully as though it might be my last!
The final section before the summit of Ben Lawers involves a narrow ridge but today this was a wide ridge, with lots of over-hanging snow. As I couldn’t guarantee the snow was safe and or that we wouldn’t create an avalanche, I decided enough was enough. Ben Lawers would have to wait until next time.
It had been a great climb – icy and snowy all the way and cold in the wind, but well worth it for the views from our lunch stop at the summit of Beinn Ghlas.
Refreshed and fed, we began the steep descent in the deep, icy snow. Resting on my ice poles, looking back up the mountain and taking in the amazing wintry scene I glimpsed two skiers heading towards us.
I don’t think Beatrix has ever seen skiers but she likes to chase sheep, squirrels and cats. I looked at her, she looked at me, then up to the skiers.
Balancing on the steep icy slope, I bent down to clip the extending lead onto Beatrix but alas, didn’t have time to lock it before she shot off to catch the skiers.
Do you know how fast a collie can do 0-60 mph from a standing start? I do!
Beatrix set off like a bat out of hell. I had no chance to react and was dragged prostrate down the slope, stopping only once I hit the rocks further down!
Landing with my arm underneath me, this took my full weight rather than landing face first! Fortunately, the skiers had seen what had happened and came to my assistance. With their help, I was able to sit up and draw breath, badly shaken and a bit nauseous but all my limbs moved and there was no blood.
Something ran down my face and I realised with horror that this tough Yorkshire girl was crying in front of strangers!
It was a long, slow walk back down the mountain with my left arm tucked away in my jacket like a sling. I sobbed to myself but knew I was going to be ok.
Beatrix of course, was always ok!
Debra Frances Murphy