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A fetid hill climb

A new week begins. Sessions in the day time, and dog sitting for the Nelsons in the evenings. Lots of walks, but with only a 45 second commute.

Tom invited me to join him for a climb that he’d been eyeing up on Buachaille Etive Mor. The weather forecast wasn’t overly favourable, but we were optimistic, that was until we started the drive towards the mountain.


We pulled into the car park as it stopped raining, and we spent about 15 minutes faffing and deliberating to see if we could work out if that was it for rain, or more was on its way. We thought it might turn grim again, so set out with lighter packs for an easier route.


The original plan was for a Severe graded climb, but our new plan was to summit via “Curved Ridge”, a grade 2 scramble.


The ground was sopping as we moved up and around the face of the mountain, comforting us on our choice of an easier route. The recent rains did however make the rivers and waterfalls that we could see very dramatic.

We quickly gained height and kitted up just below the start of the route. Helmets were an obvious choice, but we put harnesses on too, and had the rope easily accessible just in case I found progress a bit too scary.


Fairly early on, my head started to play tricks on me and I asked Tom if he would mind nipping up ahead with the rope to bring me up slightly more securely.


A few minutes later I carried on up the rock as Tom belayed me up. I was happy being on a rope, but frustrated that I couldn’t move as confidently when I wasn’t on the rope. It’s not a thick rope at 7.5mm but it offers so much reassurance when you’re tied into it.

With my new-found confidence I asked Tom if I could lead on, and so I did, trailing the rope behind me, placing a couple of bits of gear, and making a belay point to bring Tom up. It felt good to practice my skills and to be trusted by Tom, and I owe him thanks for his patience that day.


At the top, after a spot of late lunch, we planned our route back to the car. Tom’s suggestion of retracing our steps didn’t appeal as I found it interesting enough coming up the route, let alone down. He was reluctant to walk down the corrie above Lagangarbh, so I suggested carrying 2/3rds along the top to the next track down into Lairig Gartain. This sat well with both of us and so off we went.

We walked and talked about all sorts of things and then “it” happened. Tom’s digestive system had reached a point where it needed to release some gas. He let it seep out silently whilst we were ascending to the top of Stob na Doire. Now, as you know, one has to breathe quite heavily when walking up hill, for your body to extract the oxygen it needs to fuel your muscles.


I was walking behind Tom as he took a large step up and over a rock, and I breathed in a deep lungful of what I was expecting to be fresh mountain air.


But, to my horror, was a fetid, polluted, dense mass of Tom’s methane deposit. It stopped me in my tracks, and my body naturally tried to expel this corruption from my lungs with a cough, and attempting a new breath.


This however was still polluted, and I had to step back and away from the path to find something clean to breathe! A few moments later, and I was just about ready to move on.


Tom found the whole episode hilarious, but I was less than amused. When Tom later on mentioned that more was on its way, I mustered up an extra ounce of energy to sprint past him and gain the lead up wind from my companion for the day. Saved! The rest of our journey was lovely and the weather continued to clear up.

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