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We climbed Ben Nevis! - Read Connor's first hand account of the teams epic climb...


As you may know, myself & some of the team at TFP took a jaunt up to Scotland recently to take on the highest peak in the UK, Ben Nevis, which stands at an imposing 1345m (4,413 ft)! Our goal was to raise some money for our charitable foundation whilst also challenging ourselves and getting in a good bit of team building all at the same time. Here’s how it went…



Getting to base camp… no not that base camp

We flew from Stansted to Glasgow, where we boarded our three-hour transfer from Glasgow airport to Fort William, which would act as our base camp for the expedition. This transfer was probably the most dangerous part of the whole trip; our driver was what you might call… erratic. However, when we weren’t clinging on for dear life during a questionable overtake manoeuvre, our journey involved driving through an immensely picturesque part of the UK, including Scotland’s largest Loch, Loch Lomond and a few of the smaller Lochs such as, Loch Tulla, Lochan na h-Achlaise, Loch Ba to name a few, in fact every time I looked out of the window on that 100 mile trip up the A82, it was like looking at a postcard.


The Climb

So the morning of the climb everyone was up bright and early, I think because we all just wanted to get out of the lumpy hostel beds we called home for the weekend; our hostel accommodation was what we now know to be ‘Type 2’ fun… you see ‘Type 1’ fun is fun when you’re there and fun to remember, ‘Type 2’ fun is not fun whilst you’re there, but fun to look back on… Anyway, after a hearty breakfast, consisting of a few croissants, a coffee, and a protein bar, we set off to the foot of the mountain.

Oh and here we are, look at those faces all smiling in the shining sun… neither of those lasted long! I would also just like to point out the hill behind us is not the summit of Ben Nevis, it’s not like the cartoons where you can see a snow covered peak, possibly with the lair of supervillain built into the side! The mountain is so vast, you never really see the summit until you’re there.


The first half of the hike is actually very pleasant, which is subjective I know but hey I am the one writing the blog! The halfway point is marked by the creatively named ‘halfway loch’. Now I have been to the summit, if I was to go again, I would have no problem going just a bit further than halfway, posting up to eat my lunch whilst taking in the incredible views and then coming back down. I mean just look at it…


From the halfway point, the grassy dirt path slowly transforms into a gravel dirt path and that’s where things start getting a little harder and the inclines are markedly steeper; as pretty much everything from this point is a zigzag, you can’t really tell how far you have to go until the summit, so you rely on the kindness of others to tell you are “about half an hour” from the top, no matter where you are on the mountain… This does get incredibly tedious the more you hear it, but you can get your own back on the way down by telling others they’re also in fact about half an hour from the top!

From the point this photo was taken, we probably had another 1.5-2 hours climb on our hands. The zigzags I mentioned are not just a barrier to you seeing the summit, they are deceptively steep and in the final push I remember there being at least two points where you come over a verge thinking you will be at the summit and then you see another set of daunting zigzags, staring down at you… it was at this point I thought to myself “I might not be able to do this”. If I am being honest, I knew I would get to the top no matter what, but it was like my own mind was against me, trying to save the body from burning anymore calories! I think it’s fair to say you need a baseline level of fitness to complete Ben Nevis, though I think the majority of people could tackle the mountain with a moderate amount of training, however, the one thing I underestimated was the importance of mental fortitude in a challenge such as this. Lucky for me I was surrounded by a top team of people, who all shared the same goal and pushed each other to go just that little bit further.

After a final push, a good few breaks to catch our breath and being told we were only 30 minutes from the top about 43 more times, we made it! There we are, still smiling but noticeably less sunny! The summit was wet, windy & cold, the visibility was also very poor; we sat down in the ruins of the old observatory, had a rest, ate our lunch grabbed a picture by the cairn and left!





What goes up…

I am sure everyone is familiar with how that adage ends, so I won’t go into much detail here as like the adage, it’s obvious what comes next! I would like to say the decent is just a reverse of the assent, which is a fair assumption… its not. It’s easier on your cardiovascular system, but its painful on your feet, knees and legs. There is also a strange switch in the mental outlook of the experience because, well, you have to get down, you haven’t got a choice you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other despite the constant pain in your feet and the pressure in your knees. But eventually you make it back to the foot of the mountain, where you day started nearly 8 hours before, and just sort of collapse into something which resembles a pile of clothes waiting to be washed while you wait for your transport back to the hostel. I can tell you one thing for sure; I think everyone slept better in the lumpy hostel beds the second night.


I really enjoyed climbing Ben Nevis, so much so I arranged to climb Snowdon before I left Scotland. If you are considering climbing Ben Nevis, I have one piece of advice for you – take as many breaks as you can – when you’re climbing the mountain your main concern is your footing, so you spend a lot of time looking at your feet, taking a break every now and again to stop and really soak up the views is a must. It’s natural to want to get a good time, it took us about 8 hours give or take, which includes the time we spent at the summit, the world record time to complete the mountain up and down is 1 hour 25 minutes… so unless you’re trying to beat that, just enjoy the journey.


All of the team challenged ourselves, I think more than we give credit for, and raised some money for good causes in the local area – not to mention getting to see a beautiful part of the world. So overall, a great experience; would I do it again? Absolutely.




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