So…It was about time we headed this way. As with many who frequent the British hills and mountains, Ben Nevis is often someplace, somewhere on a ‘to-do’ list. It had been talked about for several years but had never come about, thus after moving to Scotland, the excuses for not doing so became few and far between. As such, Sarah and I took a long weekend break and shacked up in a nice, but strangely-decorated, B&B in Fort William. I took along my recently favoured Pentacon Six, with the Biometar 80/2.8 attached and loaded it with a roll of expired Fuji NPH 800, on which all pictures from the way up were taken.
This was to be a long day – 10 hours in fact – the circumstances surrounding the start of our hike saw to this. Starting from our lochside accommodation, we took up a route towards Glen Nevis, via Cow Hill. When coming to the bridge crossing at the Glen Nevis campsite, we found the bridge was out and had to double back to pick up a path further down the road we had just walked along.
Walking up Achintee Road, we eventually arrived at the foot of the path upwards, just by the Ben Nevis Inn. The path up to the mid-way Lochan was (and I expect still is) incessantly steep, winding round-and-round, seemingly ever-upwards. We passed many groups both on the way up, and the early starters on their way back down.
Frustratingly, it was cold in the wind and during cloud-covered periods, though in the shade and when the sun came out, it became unnecessarily warm (for this point in the so-called winter). The constant extrication and re-application of layers became somewhat annoying! Though on reaching the Lochan (small loch at altitude), we were more exposed and the wind-chill set in, thankfully.
We reached the snowline maybe 300 m from the summit and our dwindling spirits lifted. The old, abandoned summit structures were beautified in the snow and ice build up. The pseudo-twilight illuminated the summit fog. It was a wonderful place to be, and well worth the effort.
The expired NPH 800 really worked well with these wintry conditions – nicely muted colours that appear well tuned to the colourations of evergreen and decaying foliage. Shots from the way down, which was in itself an experience to behold, were shot on a roll of Kodak Portra 400 that is, as yet, still somewhere in my fridge and is yet to be developed. So this shall have to be continued at some point in the near future.