Blair Caldow tells us about his weekend working at the highest mountain hut in the UK:
"Working at Ben Nevis last weekend with the clouds closing in around us was like a scene from Skyfall (sadly without the Aston Martin or dynamite!)
It was, however, ‘back in time’ for my dad, Richard Caldow, who installed the 3kW wind turbine at the Charles Inglis Clark (CIC) Memorial Hut in 2000.
My dad and I were making the trek up the north face route of the mountain, to the highest mountain hut in the British Isles, not only to replace the turbine blades and batteries but also to install solar panels. This gave the hut extra security in securing energy from the sun in the summer months when the wind is low.
That night we all slept like sardines in the 24-person bunk room, well, all of us apart from Pauline the CIC hut’s Treasurer. Pauline had a bit of a cough and didn’t want to risk passing it on so she’d packed a tent and slept soundly- directly underneath the SD Wind turbine! We were delighted to hear her report the next morning of a peaceful night’s sleep.
5.50am on Saturday morning we were up for a hearty breakfast prepared by Amy, the cook. We got cracking on removing the old batteries ready to replace the 24v system with 12 new, gel sealed batteries. This new system means less maintenance and is ideal for the remote mountain location.
At about 1.30pm, our materials arrived by helicopter. The new batteries weigh 50kg each so it was a decent work out for everyone involved!
You’ll see from the photographs how tricky it was to get the new batteries into position, so we ended up devising a pulley system to hoist them into place. Thank God we were surrounded by climbers!
After that, it was time to install the 1.5kW solar panel system. All went well until I managed to break my tape measure on the solar panel rail. Not ideal when you’re up a mountain. Thanks to Nick for lending me his.
As we trekked back down on Sunday, bags heavier with the tools we had to carry, I realised how much I love working in challenging, physically tough environments then made a mental note to always bring a spare tape measure."