Saturday, 25 April 2009

Memory from first day climbing in Skye.


High Energy

On Sgur nan Gillean
- after an epic day.
Late evening sun sinking
as we stare
at two small specks
circling on a thermal
far below.
Slowly - they rise and grow.
Eventually level with us,
every feather clear.
We share a moment
in this high place.
Majestic birds
in their elements of rock and air.
Spellbound, we watch
as the rising air lifts them higher.
Round and round they spiral
shrinking as they soar
until lost from view.
A memory stored.
This poem was inspired by the wee photograph of me sitting on the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean (Peak of the young men - in English), at the side of this blog. Although that picture was actually my second trip up that mountain, looking at the picture reminded me of the amazing first day I spent climbing on Skye.
It was a bit of an epic; we had attempted to climb this mountain via a route known as Pinnacle Ridge. We had no actual climbing gear as such and intended free climbing it. Saves carrying lots of heavy gear. However, after a few fraught attempts at a particularly tricky descent between a pair of the aforementioned pinnacles we retreated and chose another route. This was a long detour and we eventually went up the west ridge and arrived at the summit late in the evening. It was amazing standing on the top, drained from our exertions and the effects of the adrenalin, basking in the glow of the setting sun. Then I noticed the small dots circling far below in the corrie. A beautiful pair of Golden Eagles; we felt we could almost lean out and touch them as they slowly ascended past our perch on the small summit platform of this mountain.
That revived us for the descent and slog back to the pub. We were so dehydrated we actually bought shandies but don't tell anyone.
I wonder where the other two guys I was with are now. I remember one was called Bernie and he was a really funny man with a very tolerant wife. He was a bit older than me, but then I was only 18. The other chap, I never saw again after that trip, he was ex army and had been invalided out after the charge pack for the gun of a Chieftan tank exploded in his hand and blew him clean out of the tank. Luckily the hatch was open. He had been seriously injured but the only long term damage was that he limped a bit and had lost an eye! A miracle he had survived at all though.
Really I have been very lucky when I look back, and have many wonderful memories.

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