... "fitness will not be an issue" ...
Oh how I laugh at this little statement from Mr Chandler now. It all began a few months ago when I was introduced to Paul and his brother Mark who wanted to attempt the Cuillin Traverse. I was very professional and told them what to expect, blocked off a 4 day weather window (Thursday - Sunday) and said that I would be happy to take them along (without the build up day) the ridge.
Having spoke to Paul on Monday night I was fully expecting to re-schedule but said that I would speak to him on Tuesday night just to confirm that they weren't driving all the way North from Essex for a miserable time on Skye. However, I have never met Paul and Mark before and had full heartily underestimated the Ratcliffe optimism.
So on Tuesday evening when I spoke to Paul it was with a shock that I discovered that they were on the A1 driving North and from the giggles heard, there was absolutely no way that they were turning around now and were bound for the ridge tomorrow and how "it would be great if you could join us".
I have never packed so fast for an attempt on the ridge and at 7am I was heading West. On meeting the chaps, it was Marks footwear that was the standing joke - his options either his Scarpa Mojito's or his slippy Asolo's. Despite attempts like "that's my going-to-the-pub-shoes", the Scarpa Mojito's were the footwear of choice. So just before noon we set off for an attempt on the traverse.
When you spend time with people on the hill you get to know them pretty well and I knew straight off the blocks that Paul & Mark were not your usual client. Both are Kayak Royalty - kind of like the Brownlee brothers but in paddlesport. Paul is so famous that you can even buy a poster of him! Mark has also climbed 8c so you can image what a tit I felt commenting on his footwear - he could wear a pair of flippers and he would still be fine.
Needles to say that the weather was utter pants and it was I who pulled the plug on the traverse at 5pm at the top of the Stone Shoot. Not to be defeated, the following morning it was a return back up the stone shoot and as far as we could go before once again minging conditions stopped play after Munro number 8.
So, over 42 hours; I drove 300 miles; slept for 7 hours; ate 2 burgers, numerous wraps and jelly babies; never drank enough; bagged all the Southern Cuillin Munro's & met 2 amazing Gentlemen.
I will put my hand on my heart and say that I have never been beasted around the hills as much as the past 2 days. Yes, they did need a Guide but if I could have strapped a headcam and directed from the valley floor they would be over the ridge in half the time that I take to do it - easily.