50 years of adventure and life-changing experiences in beautiful isolation, 1969 – 2019

Mountain day high in the clouds

Max uses map and compass to navigate the ‘Blue Moons’ to the summit of Arkle (no footpaths here!!)

Heath Mount

Mountain day high in the clouds

Eerie day climbing Arkle in the mist

Monday June 12th 2017

Year 8 are back at the Adventure School after an exciting and challenging day in the mountains.

We left yesterday evening, after dinner, for our remote base camp at the foot of Arkle. We have been using the old stone stables at Lone as our ‘launchpad’ for expeditions into the mountains for nearly fifty years now. We have an established field kitchen there, with teams camping just outside along the river bank, and coming in for breakfast.

There had been good views of both summits that evening but when the teams woke the cloud was so low it was almost touching the tents and you wouldn’t have known that there was a mountain out there at all.

Having had some breakfast and a mug of tea the teams set off with their instructors to tackle the mountain. Despite being in the cloud it was largely dry for the first few hours as the Blue Whales and Red Deer picked their way up the escarpment edge. The Blue Moons and Red Snappers followed the burn that tumbles from its source higher up the mountain, on a different route to the other two teams. It was pretty eerie with visibility down to less than 50m at times. You could sometimes here the other teams across the mountain but rarely could you see them. All teams converged on the first summit close to midday, with gusts of wind whipping across the summit plateau to add to the excitement.

As the first two teams descended into the col that then leads up to the second summit it was clear that the wind was just too strong to safely traverse the narrow section of ridge to the second summit, and still heavily enveloped in cloud, we made the decision to descend.

It wasn’t until we had dropped below the 300m mark, a good hour and a half later, that we emerged from the cloud and were afforded some stunning views back towards Lone and Loch Stack beneath.

Showers, change and reviews were the order of the day when we got back to the Adventure School and then straight in for dinner. Roast chicken and Hannah’s amazing homemade apple pie tonight. It didn’t last long on the plates.

Today was a big achievement. The mountain is always a challenge, but in the poor visibility and with gusty winds at the top it is just that little bit harder, requiring greater self motivation and teamwork. It’s a shame not to get a view from the summit or to have been able to reach the second summit as on a better day both would have been possible, but the teams have returned stronger, still full of enthusiasm and with a valuable lesson in sound decision making under their belts ahead of survival island.

Sunday seems a while ago now, but we spent half of the day sea kayaking on Loch A Chadh-Fi and the other half of the day learning the fire and food elements of survival skills that the teams will need on the island on Wednesday. Many winkle and limpets foraged for, cooked and eaten (well, some maybe).

Tomorrow we will be rock climbing, abseiling, heading in the boats to Ardmore to see John Ridgway’s 1966 Atlantic rowing boat, and pulling up lobster and crab pots from the sea loch.

More news to follow.