Big Hex – A climbing microadventure in Scotland – a Guest Post by Bobby Motherwell.
With only a couple of weeks until our intended attempt at the “microadventure” which has become known as Big Hex, the excitement, anticipation and preparation for the challenge is as consuming as it is imminent. Big Hex, for those unaware of the concept, is a climbing challenge akin to a “3 Peak Challenge” which myself and my 2 mates, Kenny and Eric, have contrived and developed over many years now, emerging from conversations during whiskey fuelled bothy nights in remote parts of Scotland, as we concocted a plan to give climbers their very own 3 peaker in Scotland.
A brief description at this stage would be appropriate I suppose. A simple idea, similar in substance to the “3 Peak Challenge”, but with a requirement for a climbing ability and set entirely in the mountains of Scotland. Covering 3 mountain ranges – Ben Nevis, Buachaille Etive Mor and the Cuillin on Skye – we set the challenge to climb and descend 6 ridges on each mountain within a given timescale. Initially the timescale was fixed at 36 hours, however due to feedback from message boards on UKCliming.com and on the Big Hex Facebook page and Twitter feeds, we have made the challenge more inclusive and added categories for 48 and 72 hours. There is also a requirement for each participant to raise funds for the Mountain Rescue Committee for Scotland, and contribute to the brave souls who we rely on if we are unfortunate enough to find ourselves in difficult circumstances on our mountains.
We would spend hours during the bothy nights, discussing the merits of different routes on each mountain, finding arguments for and against each other suggestions, arguing on points of historical merit of each route and difficulty and suitability of each for the technical pitching of the challenge. However one thing we were all agreed on was the 3 mountain ranges we selected. For those of you reading this and never having been on Ben Nevis, Buachaille Etive Mor or The Cuillin, you will do yourself no greater favour than to take some time out of your busy lives and get yourself among them, they are utterly stunning! Therefore the choice was simple, and the opportunity to take these ranges in over 2 days is not only a challenge, but a venture into the most beautiful landscapes and terrain that Scotland can offer.
The routes we settled for are as follows:
- Buachaille Etive Mor – Ascend North Buttress and descend Curved Ridge
- Ben Nevis – Ascend North East Buttress and descend Tower Ridge
- The Cuillin – Ascend Pinnacle Ridge and descend West Ridge of Sgurr Nan Gillean
So, where did the name “Big Hex” come from then? I hear you ask. Well, in climbing terminology, a Big Hex is a piece of climbing protection equipment – originally an old hex nut – which, when placed in a crack in the rock, will hopefully protect you in the event of a fall. It is deemed to be the safest piece of gear you can place, a “bomber” placement, if you will. A hex, is also a six sided object, which fits perfectly with our six classic routes chosen as the routes for the Big Hex Challenge. It is a challenge which is open to all comers, we strongly recommend that a degree of climbing ability is a must as some of the routes, whilst not technically difficult in climbing terms, are serious commitments which will require in some instances rope work, and should not be underestimated. What we can guarantee is an experience unlike any other challenge you will take part in on Scotland’s mountains, and mountain scenery and memories which will live with you for years to come.
So as I sit here and write this, having only recently taken a wee trip into Ben Nevis to check weather conditions, and today, when I bought a new pair of boots specially for the event, I can feel the excitement and anticipation bubbling up inside. I will revel in the preparation over the coming days and weeks. We will meet – the other members of the team, Kenny, Eric and Steven and our support team Peter and Dougie (Big Hex photographer) and myself – to discuss the logistics and the necessary equipment, food, drink and sleeping arrangements, and I will drink it all in because all too soon it will be over, and the anticipation and preparation is as much a part of any micro adventure as the participation.
All I can say is that I am so looking forward to it more than any other climbing trip I have been on, and we are delighted that others have taken up the baton and decided to join us in participating and making Big Hex their very own micro adventure, and more importantly, raising vital funds for Mountain Rescue along the way.
I would love you all to join us.
If you can help us spread the word, we will be forever in your debt.
“Whatever you do, or dream you can do, do it now. Boldness has genius and magic in it. Do it now.”
Scottish Mountaineer and writer
I’m doing it now!