Anne-Marie on climbing Ben Nevis

Last week a group of St Mungo’s staff, supporters, volunteers and clients climbed Ben Nevis. Anne-Marie a client of St Mungo’s shares her story.

Hi my name’s Anne-Marie and I’ve lived in a St Mungo’s project for a year and a half now. When I was asked if I wanted to climb Ben Nevis I realised that the challenge was not only climbing the mountain, but the social aspect in itself was a challenge too due to my anxiety.

I had a few conversations with Natalie the manager at my project regarding Ben Nevis and we both felt disillusioned in terms of actually climbing the mountain and its difficulty. But, I wanted to push myself and I wanted to start and complete something. I wanted to prove to myself that ‘beyond fear lies freedom’.

On 10 September, I and 48 others travelled to Scotland to climb Ben Nevis. We arrived at the hostel where I shared a room with Natalie and two others. It was actually loads of fun and we had lots of laughs. I woke up on the day of the climb quite excited.

I hadn’t fully realised what I was about to embark on! After less than a minute of walking, we encountered our first incline. It was appropriately named ‘heart attack hill’. It was so, so steep! I started to doubt I’d be able to make it to the top.

Image: Annie Marie climbing Ben NevisI was constantly at the back of my group having to catch up. My team literally saved me though. They carried my rucksack the whole way so that it was easier for me. Halfway up, the guide gave me his walking sticks too. Younis, a fellow team member, helped immensely. He told me to stop as often as I needed to and that he’d stick with me regardless.

As we were nearing the top, the guide suggested to Beth that I and two others should turn back as we were running out of time in the cold weather. When they asked me, I said no – I have come too far to go back now! We were literally 30 minutes from being on top of the highest mountain in Great Britain.

After, I had a small wobble and told Younis I wanted to go down but he strongly encouraged me to carry on, so I persevered. I am so incredibly happy that I did! I made it to the top! It took a mighty effort getting up there.

At the top, we were in the clouds, being hammered by 50mph winds, whilst rain that felt like tiny bullets were hitting our faces. The sense of achievement was overwhelming. There was one problem though – now we had to get back down!

Going down the mountain was an extremely different type of challenge. It was actually pretty scary! With the cliff edge being adjacent to you and the path relatively narrow, it was quite nerve racking – especially as the paths had unstable rocks and stones.

Going down reinforced my disbelief and utter amazement that I just climbed Ben Nevis because it was so steep! Most of the groups we were in initially became dispersed on the way down and there were pockets of people scattered all over.

Going down, the path felt treacherous but everyone’s mentality was amazing. I found myself walking down alone at one point; I fell on my ankle and members of another group supported me to get back on my feet.

Towards the very end, my legs felt so extremely weak and as if they were trembling. I had to dig deep and persevere. The feeling when I got back to the hostel was not only relief, but elation that I had just got to the highest point in the whole of Great Britain! What an incredible achievement.

I couldn’t have completed it, if not for my awesome team. The encouragement and support, the laughs and smiles, the group determination and fight all combined had such a significant impact. I felt like we were all in the challenge as one. The unity we had had such a positive influence. We were all united in the sense of pride we felt, not only for ourselves, but for the whole St Mungo’s team.

Collectively, we prevailed over the physical and mental challenge that Ben Nevis presented us with. I am so glad that I was a part of this, not only did I overcome a huge challenge but I met some truly awesome people.

Climbing the mountain and meeting people like Steve and Beth has inspired me to push my body and I am now thinking of working towards running a half marathon. Ben Nevis certainly will have a lasting impact!

Find out more about Team Mungo’s climbing Ben Nevis.