From flip flops to stilettos the well-worn slopes of Britain’s highest mountain have seen it all when it comes to unusual climbing attire.
But a new challenge, to scale the 1,345 metre high Ben Nevis, in lead weighted boots and a 1930s diving suit – which at 90 kilos weighs more than the wearer – is sure to turn heads like never before.
A four-strong relay team will set off today on one of the most bizarre quests seen on the mountain since Henry Alexander, the son of an Edinburgh car dealer, took the new Model T Ford to the summit in 1911.
As if the Ben climb challenge was not enough, the team will start their venture from the depths of Loch Linnhe, where their diving suits will, at least, look more at home.
The Seabed to the Summit challenge will see event organiser Ginge Fullen, who tips the scales at 75 kilos, wear a diving suit which weighs more than he does. But this maestro of the adventure world, who has a string of Guinness Book of Records awards to his name, is unfazed by the task.
The challenge aims to raise money for The Historical Diving Society, Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team and the family of Thai diver, Saman Kunan, who died during the recent rescue of twelve boys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand.
Mr Fullen, 50, from Treslaig, by Fort William, is a credible challenger. He holds records for being the first person to climb the highest peaks in every country in Europe and Africa and for reaching the highest peaks in Africa, in the fastest time.
He has climbed 170 of the highest peaks in the world’s 195 sovereign countries – and aims to eventually tackle the lot.
Having bounced back after breaking his neck playing rugby in 1990 and suffering a heart attack on Mount Everest in 1996, the former lead diver in the Royal Navy’s Clearance Diving Branch is fully prepared.
“On my last expedition, in the Pacific, I slashed my hand open with a machete, I slipped on my way back down a mountain, so I haven’t done much physical training. There was a doctor on the team so he stitched me up, but the tendon was cut,” he said.
This latest challenge will see the relay team, accompanied by an expert support team, tackle twenty to thirty minute stretches, as they battle to climb the mountain.
They will be weighted down with lead soled boots, a helmet and corset, a canvas and rubber layered suit, topped with lead weights hanging from the front and back.
John Smillie, of the Historical Diving Society, said: “It’s very hard work to walk in the suits. The helmet and corset alone is like wearing a big sack of spuds.”