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Danger Brock's May Fall At Anytime!!

Greg Brock & Mike Alderton

I will start by apologising for the disjointed nature of this report, as we are writing this after a Friday night at the Hunters.

Our Christmas time adventure started on the 22nd of December, when I arrived in Essex to meet a disorganised and hungover Greg, slowly getting ready for a couple of weeks of camping and walking in Scotland.  After a hearty meal, we packed up the car and headed north through the night.

The drive went very quickly for me as I spent most of it hungover in the passenger seat while Mike drove most of the way to Scotland.  Arriving early on the Saturday morning we pitched the tent just outside Glencoe after travelling through the night from Essex.  We pitched our tent by the side of the road and had a well-deserved sleep before travelling the rest of the distance to Fort William the next day.

The Saturday was spent wandering around Fort William, spending too much money and finding out information about routes and weather, and then setting up camp in the woods. We got up early the next morning, and after packing our rucksacs, we were on the tourist path up Ben Nevis before sunrise.  All was going well and soon we were up at the CIC hut at the foot of the crags on the rear of the mountain.

We consulted the guide book for the last time before heading up towards Tower Gully.  After crossing all the boulders and rocks at the bottom we were soon on snow and ice where we were able to try out our crampons for the first time.  Slow progress was made up the gully as we were carrying quite a lot of stuff and our feet were hurting from new fully stiffened mountaineering boots.  After a while Mike, who was leading at the time, stopped at a conveniently placed boulder.

I was just stopping for a quick drink from my frozen water flask while Greg climbed up to join me. I turned to speak to him, when instantly he disappeared from sight.  'Flip!' I thought as I watched him vanish from view over drop-offs and round comers, 'he's dead and I'm stuck half way up a mountain, this is not good.'  I rapidly learnt to down climb, desperately trying not to go the same way as Greg.

As soon as I felt my feet slip away and I started sliding I did an ice axe break which as soon as I hit the ice the axe was ripped out of my hands and down I went in my uncontrolled descent.  People keep asking me what was going through my mind but everything went so quickly that the only thing I can remember is landing in boulders at the bottom realising I wasn't dead.  Then doing the automatic check of seeing if I had broken any bones.

Thank God for mobile phones eh?  Greg managed to phone me on my descent to say he was still alive which was quite relieving, so I carefully continued down and soon was helping Greg back round the mountain to the CIC hut where we were kindly allowed in to enjoy warmth and a cup of tea.

We struggled back to the car and finally ended up at Fort William Youth Hostel, where we stayed for the night.  The following day we decided mountaineering was no longer the way forward as I couldn't walk so we headed down to Yorkshire for some caving and for New Year.  The first couple of days I spent mincing around the RRCPC hut while mike went caving but after couple of days of recovery I headed down Meregill and the following day down Dihedral.

We had some superb trips in Yorkshire, and plenty of hard-core bar room mountaineering all the way to new years day, where a heroic Greg drove back to Essex with me suffering (not very) silently in the passenger seat mincing.

The caving in Yorkshire was good and New Year was quite memorable (Or not as the case may be).  After our mountaineering epic, we are going to do something safe now like cave diving.