Climbing An Teallach in Winter

Activities with the Humanist Association Scotland… Ashton Easter a Celebrant with the Humanist Association Scotland, but also an experienced hill climber spent three days at the weekend scaling the heights of An Teallach with a another Association member Andrew Little and their pal Stuart and of their trip Ashton writes –

Climbing mountains in the winter is an oddly uninviting mix of being very cold and a bit scared. Throw in a Friday night ‘sleep’ in the car, and you have a healthy dollop of fatigue just for good measure. So it was, that on Saturday morning, myself and two friends –Andrew and Stewart- found ourselves trudging the long walk up towards the monumental corries of perhaps Scotland’s finest mountain: An Teallach. The instant I saw the impressive, jagged spires of its two corries, in paintings and photos, I knew it was a place I had to visit. So when we decided upon Torridon as our base for a three day winter trip to the mountains, it sat atop our list of potential climbs. Nothing about the mountain failed to live up to its near mythical status. Snow-capped and sun soaked, it rose majestically from a landscape that almost seems alive with an ancient wonder and majesty. Torridon is a place where dinosaurs could just about step from the imagination, to roam out across the vast and wild landscape. There are many ways to ascend An Teallach, but we chose Hayfork Gully, and though the calves burned, the nerves jangled, and the ice axes rattled in hard snow, we emerged onto a summit basking in afternoon sun, surrounded on all sides by mountains; even the islands drifting out west in the Atlantic ocean, pushed their mountainous spines up to meet the clear blue sky of the endless horizon. Suddenly the cold and the fear and the fatigue fell from our limbs and our thoughts, and a sense of something beyond words drifted between us. It would be easy to feel insignificant in such places, but somehow that sense of really being alive, of being a single human on a shared planet, becomes heightened by the vastness of it all. The breath-taking beauty of the Scottish mountains, remind me with every visit, that there are wonders and treasures out there, just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed by anyone willing to climb over the stile on the fence, and hop down onto the path.

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