It's such a privilege to be able to take time to go to Scotland at the time of snow and to reach the tops of some of the biggest mountains in the UK, including the biggest, Ben Nevis (1344m) which we reached via the spectacular Carn Mor Dearg Arete. But it's an even bigger privilege to share those experiences with friends. It really wouldn't have been so enjoyable on my own.
Such friends who know how to support and help you when it is indeed yourself that needs conquering, not the mountain. Ben Nevis is a big day out, especially in soft powdery snow via a ridge that knows how to challenge those feelings of insecurity and overactive imagination followed by a final push to the top. But we all made it. With no real drama - just the one inside my head.
It was also wonderful to intersperse the big days out with gentler days simply absorbing the surrounding majesty and beauty of Scotland. To take a road trip to Ardnamurchan Point, to see the waves crashing over a rock creating rainbows in the sunlight. To sit back and relax together at the end of a long day drinking in the beauty of the sunset alongside a well-earned gin and tonic. To wander up Glen Ure and decide not to make the big push up to the next monroe but instead just enjoy each other's company and save ourselves for the next day. To spend an afternoon with by the fireside reading the weekend papers having 'earned it' with a stroll on the Morar peninsula.
Good friends are made sharing such experiences, supporting each other through the tough times wading through deep snow and battling against cold, sharp winds. But then also recovering together with coffee and cake, or taking in the indoor climbing wall, cooking and eating good food together.