Sunday, November 21, 2010

Firbush Day 2: Into the Wild

It's 8pm and I just retuned from my weekend away at Firbush Center for Sport and Exercise. If you read my blog yesterday I mentioned that on today's itinerary was a 3000 ft. mountain climb up Ben Glass Mountain in one of Scotland's National Parks. Our group met for breakfast at 8:30am, and I must admit I had butterflies in my stomach. I was sore from the pervious day's activities (kayaking and biking) and was unsure if I would be able to keep up with the group. After a 30 minute car ride to the park, we geared up in waterproof suits and headed up to our destination. The first hour was a steady hike on a moderate slope where we reached around 1500 feet. We then reached ice and snow, and the hike became a lot more intense, or for me at least. What was hard during this journey is that the rest of the group (who are mostly 18-19 year old students) had a good 50 yards on me. I was hanging towards the back and had to go at my own pace, and it was hard to be the slower one of the group. I like to think I am a pretty active person, but this mountain kicked my American butt! When we reached the snow line, the wind picked up, and at this point the next 30 minutes were quite hard. We could no longer see the summit of the mountain because the clouds had rolled in and the wind was blowing the snow right into us.  All of us were cold, so we decided to take a break and have lunch.

Mountain Range

To be honest, I was pretty miserable at this point, and thought why the hell did I sign up for this? I scarfed my lunch down, but had to keep moving in order to keep warm. If you stop moving, you become a lot colder, so there I was at 2500 ft doing jumping jacks. Really! One of the hardest things to do was regulate body temperature. There were parts of the climb where I was so hot, maybe because I had 4 layers on, so I would start to take some off, but then the wind would pick up and it would be freezing again. I honestly don't know how people can climb for days on end! 

We were only 500 ft from the summit, but since the weather took a turn for the worst our guide who is very experienced  went on ahead to see if our path was safe. When he retuned about 10 minutes later and said it was too risky we decided to change our course and head around the mountain instead of up to the summit. I was really thankful because I am not sure how much more of the climb I could have taken. The views were breathtaking and we all enjoyed parts of the trip where we could slide down icy slopes. 

We also got to learn techniques on how to use an ice axe. We learned how to create ice steps in order to scale parts of the mountain where your feet can't sink into the snow. It was really cool, but at this point I knew I could never be more than a novice mountaineer.  We made our way back down the mountain back to our car. As soon as we returned back to our cabin, I immediately ran for one of the hottest showers I have ever taken.  I don't know if I have ever felt so cold than up there at 2500ft. 

 Overall the experience is one I will never forget. I have to admit I was proud for attempting something I had never really done before but was surprised on how much I had to push myself to get trough it. The guides were amazing and so helpful at times when I wanted to quit. I guess it's not too often one can say today I climbed a mountain with an ice axe, but I can cross that one of my bucket list of things to do in this lifetime.  I never thought when I moved to Scotland I would have attempted a climb like the one today, but I guess that's the beauty of taking the road less traveled, you never know what's around the corner. Until next time, I'll see you on the internet. 

 Into the Wild
Group shot: 2500 Ft

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