Saturday 4 February 2012: In the Clachaig
I didn't take my camera out in the morning, with the weather being quite foul - which is rather unlike me. I wish I had. There are almost always photo opportunities - if you have the camera to take them. And so there were.
We are in the Clachaig Inn - Glencoe. Relaxing. The morning had not been uneventful.
I triggered an avalanche in Coire nan Lochan. Fortunately quite a small one, in a fairly 'safe' place (that is to say not above and crags or steep ground, and not funelling into a narrowing gully). Fortunately neither I nor anyone else were in the least bit injured. I remembered my training automatically and 'swam ' out easily.
As it was, it has been an extremely good learning experience. About 30 seconds before I felt a distinct change in the snow - although for a while before I had been uneasy, being fully aware of the risk. I will not forget that feeling.
I have been thinking long and hard about how I came to be in such a situation, as, if you put down the hard facts on paper I absolutely should not have been in the position I was. I absolutely should not have gone where I did, and I knew this at the bottom of my heart in all honesty - but I had managed to bury it.
I think it comes down to that factor which is so often important in such situation - and that is the perceived 'commitment' to something blinding one otherwise. This started weeks before when I planned this trip to the Highlands. I had a specific route in mind. The weather forecast came good. I had the weekend off. I booked my accomodation, got the animals taken care of, enlisted an equally keen friend.
However, when the forecast changed, and I reluctantly abandoned my intended route, I then fixed on another. And so reluctant to be thwarted yet again as the weather deteriorated yet further I found all sorts of justifications as to how and why this was OK and how the risks could be mitigated. And when on the morning we were among many others doing exactly the same thing I became more emboldened.
The thing is, quite clearly none of these things is valid. It is strange how I overcame this knowledge in my head. Commitment can be a dangerous thing.
And if I had not been just 10feet from the 'safety' of my route, would I have taken another step away from my stable position across the laden gully when it already felt wrong. No.
But that was only the last thing in a whole chain of events stretching back weeks before. But I only accept that now.