Solo expedition, August 31st 2010. A self timer photo on the summit of Ruadh Stac Mor in the wild west Highlands of Scotland, in the Fisherfield area at about 6pm. You can see A’Mhaighdean in the background that I had climbed earlier, passing a large herd of red deer grazing quietly. I had backpacked in from Poolewe about 20km with a 15kg load. It is a sublime place and was a sublime experience to be up on the summit so late in the day especially knowing I just had to slip down to my wee tent down on the beallach for a brew, hoping the breeze kept the midges away. I hadn’t seen anyone for hours and wouldnt see anyone for many more.
This was the last mountain I managed to climb.
In late 2009 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and by early 2011 it was clear my mountaineering and climbing life could not be sustained. Over the past year I have had to totally readjust my relationship to wilderness and high places, I had been climbing mountains in Scotland since I was a kid.
What I realise of course is that while I miss the mountains, the mountains don’t miss me and one less pair of boots in an area like Fisherfield is not necessarilly a bad thing. Minimal Impact? Leave no trace? Indeed.
I am not asking for sympathy or money though I would be very happy for you to make a donation to the John Muir Trust or Scottish Wild Land Group. I am really only prompted to write about this now because it’s UK Multiple Sclerosis Awareness week from April 30th – May 6th, and there are many people who know me but don’t know about my condition. That’s the thing about MS, it’s different everyday, it’s different for everybody and to a large section of the population it’s invisible.
A little bit like wild land.
It would be great if you could make an effort to understand and not write me off.