Suilven: Stone for the Mountain
By Chris Puddephatt, photographer
The better weather I was hoping for; a lovely sunny day for the airlift of the bagged stone! Incredibly only a few days since the blizzard, and look at it! Amazing.
OMG! Riding in the helicopter! Lucky, lucky, lucky!
Safety briefing; yellow jacket and hard hat. And sunscreen.
The chopper ferries bags of stone from the boulder field very quickly. I know it’s going to be expensive, but this is so efficient. Andy’s got a list and knows which bag goes where; that’ll save additional work moving it again.
We start on the lower path, contrary to the master plan, as the weather still needs time to clear on the ridge. Bag after bag turns up. This is a welcome easy day for Andy, just holding a clipboard and standing around in the sunshine. Oh yes, he also waves his arms around a bit, directing the helicopter where to drop the next bag.
A few walkers come past, directed through by the marshall when it’s safe to proceed. A lovely day like this, you’d think there would be more people up here.
Then the chopper turns up without a load, and without the rope dangling below, and suddenly I’m directed to get on it. Again! Oh yes! We fly around a bit; I think David the pilot may be checking for turbulence. The view is breathtakingly tremendous. Did I say I was excited? Then all too soon, they land to throw me out. Right on the top of Suilven. It’s a bit breezy; I hang onto my hard-hat, but it’s sunny and lovely. And I’m the only one there. Just wow!
Reality hits me; it’s going to take a quarter of an hour to get down to the drop zone; there’s only 20 bags coming up here, I better get going. Missing the job isn’t an option.
Predictions were right: for photos, this is the icing on today’s cake.
I get a few in the bag, and I think I’m good to go.
I carefully pick my way down the loose scree and pebbles; my knees are not loving this as much as the rest of me. I catch up with the lens cap that decided to race me down. Almost at the bottom of the gully, and Shaun, Donald and Alec catch me up, bounding down the hill like kangaroos. I can keep up with them on the flat, so we chat away for about 6 miles to the Lodge.
What a phenomenal day!
Guest blog and photography by Chris Puddephatt from 2nd May 2017. Find out more about the Suilven Path Project here