I pulled as many clothes on as I could, and found my headtorch underneath the pile that had made my pillow. The sound was like a rushing waterfall as the air forced itself through every gap in as much volume and with as much speed as it could muster, the sharp cracking of loose fabric played a demeted solo over the backbeat. I fell out of the tent in unlaced boots and clamped my hand back onto the apex of the pole as the flysheet danced wildly on the other side, cutting through my torch beam in a flurry of red and inky darkness.
Bobinson was also outside in a disheveled state, fussing around the front of his tent, it looked crushed and bent, he had guy lines flapping in the air like tentalcles trying to grab James Mason and sink the Naultilus.
I had two corners up and both ends were loose, the guys attached to the pole were solid so I let go and scurried round to see what I could do. Two bungee cords had snapped simultaneously and the release of tension had sprung one of the carbon end rods out and had fired the guy peg from the opposite end into orbit. But, the Lasercomp was still standing at this point in undiminshed wind.
I re-tied the remains of the bungees and re-pegged them, finding most pegs bent. Not just those wire thin Terra Nova novelties, but the titanium V pegs I took along for extra security in the wind.
With a mix of bent pegs, rocks and even doubling up pegs with Bobinson at the front as we were so close, we both got the tents as good as they were going to get. We laughed.
Back in the tent I stayed dressed and admined my gear for departure, just in case. I slepft fitfully, more aware of the wind in spite of the increased volume of metal.
Daylight wasn’t far way, and when it came it was in sarcastic pink soft focus. The wind raged and small drops of sleet had started to go pat-pat-pat on the flyshet, but it looked like a 1960’s calendar shot outside.
The tent was standing, and standing well. The porch was calm enough to get the stove on for a cuppa and muesli. I was warm and comfortable, but tired.
I emerged and had a wander around. The tents looked sore, my Lasercomp looked like somebody else other than me had pitched it and the Seedhouse was all wrong at the front. A pole had taken a wee kink and the guys were like a ball of wool that the cat had got at.
But they both survived intact, no fabric tears, no stitching stretched. We knew this might happen, but all it’s done is increase my confidence in both tents.
The folks from Inchree were on their way up to meet us, so we had time ponder the night, have another cuppa and pack carefully.
The weather got worse, the wind got even stronger and we had wet sleety snow lashing us in increasing heaviness. We were wrapped up and packed up as the six hooded figures appeared on the track above us. We headed up to meet them.
Greetings and smiles were exchanged and we all descended together, no possibility of a summit, we were being blown sideways constantly. It really wasn’t a day for the hill.
We ended up in the cafe at Glen Coe, including Elaina who’d stayed at base earlier to plot the peoples revolution in peace without Steve, Sandy, Kate, Cath, Jamie and Nicky interfering.
We ate well, very well. The banter was good and the rain bouncing off the slate patio just outside the window could have been a million miles away.
Some hours later Bobinson and I left reluctantly to head South and home. The hillsides were split by the silver streaks of swollen burns and rivers had burst their banks all over. Not a day for the road either. We stopped briefly at the Real Food Cafe to top up the tank…
There could be finger waving because we went out in those conditions. But we’re both experienced and knew what we were doing, we worked around the problems and were never in real danger.
All the gear behaved perfectly, both tents landed safely even with their tails shot to pieces and the pilots walked way.
Great mountains, great weather, great people.