Been talking on the Trail forums about common sense, experience and the like.
Last winter I went for a wee jaunt up Ben Lomond, mid week, late in the day. Bloody cold, clear, good snow under foot.
Just before the steep pull up from Ptarmigan to the summit, I found myself a sheltered corner, got on my Haglofs Barrier Hoody and sat down to have a cuppa and bit of beef jerky.
These two blokes sauntered up, red of cheek, a bit wide eyed, keen to stop and chat. Turns out they were visiting relatives and though they would have a go at “Glasgow’s mountain”. Indeed.
They weren’t totally unprepared, they had some good kit on, borrowed as it turns out, but perfectly functional. They had left their pals behind, were sure they’d turned back and wondered what to do now as the sun was sinking pretty low.
“I’m going to the summit and down the easy path to the carpark, you’re welcome to join me”. Much relief was evident. It’s a steep wee pull up, especially when the snow is fresh and there’s no path to follow. I let them go ahead, luckily all was well.
They were so happy to reach their first summit, smiles, photographs and handshakes all round.
It was getting dark now and we had to descend. I had the only headtorch.
Try illuminating the path for three people on typical snow and then wet muddy mountain terrain, when the two in front are panic-walking. You know, that fast stride with a fixed downward gaze and no talking, strong deliberate and slow breaths, faces pure white. I feared for a mishap all the way down and was never so happy before or since to see that muddy Rowardennan carpark.
Numbers exchange for photies, thanks expressed unconditionally, nervous laughter, brave words after a bit of a scrape. We went our separate ways.
Should I have told them to retrace their steps? Did I take responsibility for them when they came with me?
Doesn’t matter now. But maybe it might have.