Ben Nevis; the tallest mountain in the UK, it’s no small feat. Of course, when it was suggested to us back in March to climb with the ladies from SWiT, there was no hesitation to sign up to this momentous task. As months went on, it became increasingly daunting, with no previous climbing experience behind us, we were unprepared for what to expect. However, we’re never ones to let a challenge get in our way, so as the days neared, we packed our brand new walking boots and waterproofs and ventured North to climber's paradise.
Arriving at the base in the morning, the elements were against us from the get-go, with ominous clouds looming, we put our best foot forward and started our ascent. The range of emotions you experience from the first step are far more diverse than what you expect. From an overwhelming sense of excitement to nervously fearing the unknown. We endured the predicted four seasons worth of weather in just six hours and pushed ourselves both physically and mentally.
The most incredible thing to take from the whole experience is the camaraderie that was displayed from every single person you passed, both up and down the mountain. On that Munro, that very day, there was a sense of community that would be hard to match.
Here are our highs and lows from the day:
- The scenery; we initially met with a vivid sea of green at the bottom that wound it’s way half way up the mountain, it was a welcomed sight on the descent, breaking free from tumultuous scenes at the summit. Upon reaching the top, it was as though you had broken into a whole new world, a planet of rocks and rubble surrounded you, with 40 mph winds and aimlessly volatile rain.
- We learnt about our bodies more than anyone could have predicted. Learning how essential certain types of food are for your energy levels and why water is as important as everyone preaches. From corned beef sandwiches to fig rolls; preparation is key and fuelling your body with the RIGHT foods is essential.
- This climb, tested us mentally; there was a constant battle in our heads of ‘YOU can do this’ vs ‘I can’t do this’ on the ascent, to ‘I just want this to be over’ on the descent. We learnt to continually push ourselves and with the support of each other, we were able to gain confidence to keep going and finish the climb.
- Wobbly legs, water balloon boots, fatigue, soaked clothing and ‘tetris’ like footpaths are just some of the barriers we came up against as a team, but we continued to plod on, with bemused faces and (relatively) enthused hearts.
- Meeting like-minded people within our industry and others, meant that were waves of friendly faces to pass on the never-ending footpath.
- We learnt to harbour any physical pain and turn it into a determined energy that kept us pushing on through; even when you felt you were walking up the steepest mountain on the planet, the determination shone through.
- The sheer grit and resolve from not only our team but every single person on the mountain was admirable, no matter their fitness level or body type, they were giving it their all; that was remarkable in itself, but also incredibly encouraging.
- Being surrounded by nature and not digital; often we are completely drawn into our screens for 8+ hours per day; to be able to take some time to enjoy each other's company without any ‘tech’ distractions was greatly appreciated by the whole team.
- Fundraising for causes that have affected our lives; for some of us, it was the first time fundraising. Upon reaching your desired donation goal, the sense of achievement and satisfaction you feel is immeasurable, we were directly contributing towards change, for both mental health and cancer research.
- Finally, that fresh, crisp pint of victory, it tasted so good and after six hours of climbing it was wholeheartedly deserved.
As a team, we’ve learnt how tenacious we are as individuals and as a group, going from complete beginners to conquerors of Ben Nevis is something to be incredibly proud of; once we’ve recovered, we will be ready to take on the next mountain challenge. Our number one takeaway from our experience and the best advice we can give to any aspiring climbers is this; always push yourself, you are much stronger than you think.
Both fundraising pages are still open for donations, having reached their target amount, the funding still continues. You can find the donation page for Mind UK here and Beatson Cancer here. On behalf of the whole team, we thank you for all of your donations and continued support.