The plan was to build an igloo and sleep in it over night. The elements had other ideas……..
Our trip began from Labman with a pleasant six hour drive up to Fort William. So we could get an early start for the challenge ahead, Friday night was spent in a local hotel. That evening, over a curry and a couple of scoops, talk inevitably turned to igloo building tactics and styles. Thankfully all laptops had been left at home otherwise it looked like we were going to have full CAD drawings courtesy of Tom Smith and a GANTT chart compiled by messers Riley and Talintyre. Personally, I was pushing for the aesthetics of the igloo to be debated with a strong preference towards the Art Deco style. In the end we agreed on two igloos with an intermediary communal dome bridging them, otherwise know as the Eden Project Igloo.
The next morning we sorted out our kit and distributed the items necessary for the expedition This included two shovels, two concrete saws, a wood saw for finesse work, two flags, 6 ice axes, a full change of clothes including thermals, sleeping bags, bivvy bags, Therm-a-rests, approximately 20 liters of fluid, 3 stoves with cooking implements and food for the evening. Rucksacks were heavy but spirits were high.
We were to ride the gondola lift up from the Nevis Range Ski Resort then hike for an hour or so to the top of Aonach Mor. Sadly we were greeted by an ominously deserted ski resort and a sign indicating the lifts were closed due to high winds. After a bit of deliberation it was decided to set out on foot. Annoyingly 45 minuets into our hike the gondola began moving so we headed back down to catch it.
100mph winds at the top of Aonach Mor had mean’t the operators of the ski resort had closed the slopes and only turned the gondolas on to get their remaining staff back down. With this in mind we decided to cut our losses and head over to the Glen Coe Ski Resort to see if conditions were any better.
The wind was not as severe and we managed to get a ski lift up the first section of the mountain but that is where our luck ran out. We still needed to walk an hour up a very icy piste and with visibility down to 10 meters it was tough going. After failing to find a level spot to build an igloo and time ticking on it was with much sadness we decided to abandon the plan to sleep on the slopes.
We did not want to go back empty hearted and made the decision to not let all the equipment hauling be in vain. Although not as impressive some igloo building techniques were required to make our shelter. After a spot of lunch in our new erection we headed back down the slopes, on a sledge where available. The evening was spent in a charming wooden wigwam.
Although tired and slightly deflated, the feeling in the group was that we will be back to tackle the Eden Project Igloo again….