“Dad’s gone crazy!”I thought.“Why is he making me pack so many jumpers on this beautiful sunny day?”, wondered 7-year-old me. It was mid summer and we were off to walk up our first munro, the mighty Cairngorm! Several hours later I was stood happily on the summit with my dad and brother. It was cold and misty and suddenly all the jumpers made sense.
Outdoor trips were quite rare during my childhood, but dad was central to all of them. Each one lit a spark and I grew up with a fire in my belly wanting more. At 12 I declared a weekend camping on Skye as “better than Disneyland” (which is a big deal because I LOVE Disneyland!). Dad taught me how to read maps and use a compass and perhaps most importantly he taught me to respect this wild and unforgiving environment.
He also passed on his competitive spirit; I rememeber the day we walked up Ben Nevis and every person who appeared on the horizon became a target to catch and overtake. At the time I was infuriated by this constant need-for-speed but at some point in time I clearly became infected!
My favourite memory with dad was ten years ago when we climbed the inaccessible pinnacle together. He had always talked about The Black Cuillin as a wild dangerous place where you must only venture with a mountain guide, but somehow at the age of 18 I convinced him that we could tackle this together! I think there was an unspoken agreement that essentially dad would get us to the base of the pinnacle, and I would get us up it! We left Inverness at about 2am because we were determined to “beat the crowds” but on the approach we found ourselves in thick mist with zero visibility and became a little overwhelmed. With heavy hearts we agreed to descend. However, shortly afterwards the mist began to clear and after a pensive snooze on the hillside we decided to head back up! The Inaccessible Pinnacle came into view as a steep abrupt tower and I think dad nearly passed out in shock! But, by the time we made it round to the base and unpacked our gear it was turning into a beautiful sunny day and our confidence was flying high.
Dad did a great job following up the climb (maybe some excessive use of crawling) and soon we were at the summit! Of course the adventure was not over yet. First our abseil ropes got stuck and then we made a route error on the descent and ended up halfway down the bottomless stone chute!! By the time we made it down to Coire Lagan the sun was hot and high so we enjoyed a celebratory swim. It was the perfect adventure and I'm so lucky I got to share it with dad.
Since then, we have climbed most of the Cuillin together. I think it is really cool that we have shared a two-way relationship in the mountains and I’ve been able to give something back to dad in terms of scrambling. Last year he finished all the Munros! I used to be adamant that Munro bagging was totally uncool, however I think dad must have subliminally inspired me here too, because I’ve suddenly found myself planning a Munro-round! I am eternally grateful that dad has passed on me to his passion for the mountains and I look forward to sharing many more adventures together.