Up and Down a Large Set of Scales

Funny how your mind can work, I had previously ‘climbed’ Schiehallion on a grey day with, if memory serves right, the mist shrouding the higher ground aiding the effect of multiple false summits and I was in no hurry to return. What was I thinking? It sits in relative isolation from anything of similar height and therefore has potentially great views, which of course I missed out on last time. This time, on an invite to join two friends, happily coincided with a really good forecast and on arrival it seemed like we were in for a treat.

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Gearing up at the car was an early sign of how cold a day it was going to be and we even had a short spell of snow flung at us, but from the start of our walk the skies again cleared with the strong westerly. The JMT constructed path is a big improvement over the boggy trudge I recall from my previous visit and it must have taken a serious effort to construct such a solid, well built path. In fact one of our party had contributed sweat and toil to it!

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Soon we crossed the snow line which was low enough to allow a good day out for a pair of skiers we shared the hill with, two of perhaps twenty souls in all on the hill.

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The temperature was really low, mostly a result of wind chill and at the top, we (as did others) sought out shelter for our lunch stop. No need to hang about right at the top anyway, as prior to our arrival the cloud had dropped in to block views, with perfect timing though, the views all around us were revealed as we ate and a quick walk back to the summit had us take them all in to the west too, albeit briefly, it was just too cold to linger. A rare spectacle was enjoyed as well, a Brocken Spectre, before we set off on our quick descent back with the wind at our backs.

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Why describe Schiehallion as a set of scales? That relates to an ambitious attempt in the 18th century at determining Earth’s density using Schiehallion and therefore by extension various other facts about our neighbours in the Solar System, a pretty impressive bit of early science.

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