Despite the exhausting 11 hour mountaineering session we had on Saturday on the A’ Ghlas-bheinn mountain, some of us were eager to try something harder on Sunday. Nothing could have been better than the famous 5 mile long ridge of the Five Sisters of Kintail.
We started our walk before dawn, under a light rain shower. It was very unpleasant and it didn’t seem to stop. We were a team of 4 and everybody was really fit. We walked very fast and I was happy to have the opportunity to do this legendary ridge with them. I was a bit worried not to have the required skills to keep the pace though.
It stopped raining some time after we had left the road. We were now in a elevated valley from which we could see Loch Duich and Sgurr an Airgid behind us, and the beginning of the ridge leading to the first sister ahead of us. The area was extremely boggy and my boots were soon completely wet. After a while, we were high enough to make out the route we would actually have to follow. I was seized by the steepness of the two snow-covered peaks I could see in the distance. It was very cold and cloudy. I wasn’t confident but I knew I was walking with pros. At some point, we reached the actual ridge. It was sharp but not too much, and all snow-covered. There was an impressive drop on the left-hand side.
We reached the first sister without any problem. We then walked to the second one and had to face a very steep section in the fog. We progressed slowly because the snow had turned into ice. It was very exhausting. Once we reached the second sister, we had to go down again, and up, and down, and so on. We passed through lovely places. I’m usually sad when it’s cloudy and foggy because I can’t see the landscape, but today the fog made the whole trip much more interesting. During 8 hours I felt like I had entered in a parallel universe in which there would be no sky. During 8 hours, I was thrown in a colorless and absolutely silent and quiet world. At some point, we got lost. Absolutely everything around us was white. We stayed there for maybe half an hour, trying to guess what was the right way with the compass. I want to praise our team leader for his orientation skills here because he figured out a solution very professionally.
I will remember the last section for ever. I was completely shattered by the 11 miles route we had done in these hostile mountains. Now, the slope was steep and boggy and slippery as hell because of the melting snow. In a word, it was a nightmare. It reminded me of the ancient Greek myth of Sisyphus, punished by the Gods to roll an immense boulder up a hill for ever, but this time, it was my turn to be punished by going down a never-ending mountain. I fell so many times in this descent that I soon stopped counting. I usually try not to fall to keep my dignity but this time I literally rolled down the mountain like a brainless thing, without caring if I was crashing in a puddle of mud, on a rock, or in an ice-cold stream. When I finally reached the A87 highway, my legs could barely lift me, but I was delighted by this adventure.
– February 2011