Montane Ambassador Nick Morris talks us through what adventure means to him, and why everyone can benefit from it.
Walking along the ridgeline of Beinn Alligin in the Scottish Highlands in a world of adventure and discovery, my ice axe in one hand steadying myself against the icy breeze and my crampons piercing the snow underfoot. I track the ridge moving up the ascent to the summit, feeling my heart race as my heavy legs power me up the crisp white untouched blanket of snow towards clear skies and vast views. I could be in the French Alps.
In reality, I am 607 miles from home, living in a hired VW campervan and my 9 to 5 'out of office' is on!
The daily chores, the 9 to 5, commuting along busy congested roads, is a reality for most. A morning’s Insta scroll over your first coffee is to longingly stare at adventurers and stunning imagery, desperately trying to transport yourself out of the air-conditioned grey box you are sat in, quietly thinking to yourself…I wish I had a life like that. Freedom and unhindered joy. Then that familiar email ‘ping’ and another day in the office begins.
You often question the adventure lifestyle; is it for me? Can I afford to go to Nepal for 3 months? Can I quit my job? But it is soon dismissed for the ever so present reality of the need to pay the bills. Adventure is once again pushed aside. But adventure is “an unusual and exciting or daring experience”, it doesn’t state you must dedicate your life to climbing the highest steepest mountains or kayaking down raging rapids. It can be closer than you think. I work 9 to 5 and have a mortgage, but I live
for adventure. So, I headed North to the mighty Scottish Highlands.
Picking up a campervan in Fort William I meandered along the A87 deep into the Isle of Skye to the small sleepy village of Torrin. I pulled over at the side of Loch Slapin and sat in the shadows of Bla Bheinn; listening to the sound of the waves lapping the pebble shore as the night slowly claimed the surrounding landscape.
After a windy night I awoke to a misty tantalizing landscape masking the mountains beyond, so I packed up and headed to The Storr. Created by landslips this is a fascinating environment is a labyrinth of paths to explore and pinnacles to scramble. Hours passed, the clouds cleared and Scotland revealed itself in all its glory.
A never-ending vista of snow-capped mountains as far as the eye could see with a wall of dark clouds looming on the horizon. The winds howled, the showers came and passed but the smiles never left. Not a huge summit but the adrenaline was ever-present. I felt alive. Standing near the edge of the summit my eyes gazed towards Torridon, the location for the next few days.
After driving through the Scottish Highlands, I arrived upon Torridon. The weather had turned, it was snowing, windy and cold but excitement filled the atmosphere. With the gentle whistle of the wind rocking the van while I read it was time for lights out.
6:30am, the alarm squawks loudly, the sleeping bag is kicked off and I grab my trusty Montane Anti-Freeze Down Jacket
. The sky is dark with a hint of deep orange peeping over the horizon. There is no wind, no noise, no people; just me and the Highlands.
I moved through the heather and bracken towards the base of Tom Na Gruagaich. The Munro was protruding into the clouds, but I was in hope of the weather clearing as forecast. I moved quickly onwards towards the ridge and scrambled up. The anticipation grew and it felt like adventure was about to begin. New territory, the unknown landscape and a snow-capped ridge making me feel empowered. Raw exhilaration overcame me as the Munros drew me further into their remote cold clutch.
As I zig-zagged up the ascent to Sgurr Mhor, plunging each step into fresh snow, I reached the cairn amidst a frozen world. The cairn was encased in thick ice hoarfrost, and spindrift blew across the summit. The skies were a clear, saturated blue. I was standing amongst the Golden Eagles high above lochs below, in the midst of the Munro summits. I had panoramic views of Scotland.
Taking shelter from the biting wind behind the icy cairn I simply enjoyed this new landscape, absorbing the absence of the modern world, forgetting the daily grind I had left behind. Appreciating the magnificence of my new surroundings.
With no signal, the sun setting and deer on the distant hill freedom and solitude were truly experienced. After 7 days of travelling in the van, exploring the Munro’s from Skye to Torridon and pushing myself to take on new challenging terrain, I began to reflect upon my trip and what adventure means to me.
Adventure is pushing myself past what I thought possible, getting outside of my comfort zone and experiencing new cultures. But the most valuable part of adventure is deeper and inward facing.
It’s the understanding gained of being grounded, the value of morality and knowing your true self. By taking myself into situations over the last few years where I have felt physically small in the mountains, insignificant against mother nature or vulnerable; its these moments that you find inner strength, understand personality traits and grow as an individual. A child grows because they question everything while being constantly exposed to new experiences, smells and feelings. Why should this end at 18? As we age we must still question, find new experiences and like a child take ourselves into new situations.
As a final sentiment I thought I would leave the definition of adventure, as it sets no boundaries or conditions for size, location or scale and is available for all: “Adventure; an unusual and exciting or daring experience”