An Sgùrr

When we arrived on Eigg two weeks ago, it was around half two on a drizzly Saturday afternoon. We dragged our bags, groceries and bikes off the ferry and cycled to the cottage where, rumour has it, Tolkien once stayed.

We didn’t notice the Sgurr.

The Sgurr? (also called An Sgùrr in Gaelic)

It is a giant rock that dominates the entire island. Like Table Mountain and Cape Town only on a much smaller scale.

The thing about the Sgurr is that from below it looks frightening.

The side exposed to the pier is a sheer drop down what must be about 400 metres. You can see from the picture at the top (if you are reading this online), there is no messing about with the fall-off.

When I heard that climbing the Sgurr was something that people did when visiting Eigg, I was suspicious. Not only was my fear of heights alerting me to a potential crisis, I just couldn’t conceive that anyone but the most ardent mountaineers could get to the top; those sinewy folk with calloused fingers and special shoes.

The days passed and we heard stories of other visitors climbing – ideally they said, when the mist was not so thick you risked walking-off the side; others, families with small children appeared to manage.

And this, the point of the blog.

There is actually a route up the back of the mountain that takes you to the top; sure there is a little bit of scrambling-up roughened pitchstone, navigating sheep trails and avoiding the odd bog or two, but, after 90 minutes we were on the top. (With associated fear of falling/invisible hand pushing/pulling into catastrophe.)

We even saw a butterfly.

butterfly on the sgurr.JPG

Climbing down was also quite straightforward – in my limited experience, coming down although a relief because the worst is over is always a challenge because of slipping and shifting scree.

This I felt was a valuable lesson; when you see a hill, mountain or obstacle, don’t forget that there are different perspectives.

Compared to my ascent of the Cullins back in the 90’s (with associated terror – Mr Bilby) this was a dawdle.

What at first might be considered insurmountable requires a shooftie around the back, squaring-up and examination from a different angle.

It is all perspective.

I am sure Picasso would agree.

As would any multidisciplinary team member.

pitchstone.JPG

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