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15th December 2009 / posted by BrendanBeal

Brendan's Account of the Mount

When away from work, I am a keen Mountaineer and Rock Climber. I consider myself quite experienced as I have completed over a hundred rock climbs in the last year alone and recently tackled the Caminito-del-Rey or ‘footpath of the king’, in Andalucía.

Just recently I took a trip to Scotland to tackle Ben Nevis’ great Observatory Ridge - a climb coveted by many a climber and for good reason! It ticks all the boxes– a beautiful line, difficulty, a phenomenal vista, exposure and the promise of adventure. However, complacency could have cost me my life!

Brendan taking a welcome drink - water is surprisingly scarce above the snowline.

Brendan taking a welcome drink – water is surprisingly scarce above the snowline.


On The Ben (Nevis) after a good ascent, around 3pm we became aware we were in trouble. I didn’t check my climbing partner’s navigation, and we found ourselves ascending Tower Ridge instead of our intended Observatory Ridge, and as such, had no idea where to go on the penultimate pitch.

We climbed on as quickly as humanly possible, before retreating by abseil (in the dark) down the 2800ft climb at around 6pm. Most of the abseils were off TV-sized boulders stuck to the face by little more than ice and good will. We eventually got down to the bottom of the climb at half past midnight, and had to face the little matter of walking

10 miles back to the car in completely rigid boots! We got back to the cars’ warmth and safety with the promise of some really rubbish food from the local 24hr garage, which went down surprisingly well at 3.30 in the morning!

Climbing is a sport, which necessitates attention to detail – if you do not do everything exactly right, then, well, let’s not even consider the consequences! You need to be determined, focused, and above all meticulous. This is even something I practice on a daily basis in my working role as an Oakwrights Trainee Estimator!

A memorable moment

A memorable moment when all those things came together - view, exposure, and a superb technical pitch behind. A fantastic view, nearly half the way through!.. or so we thought…

Mike and Brendan before they set off.

Mike and Brendan before they set off. ‘You know where we’re going, right?’




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