In 1995, Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team made a decision to erect two 3m high aluminium marker poles, set in concrete, to aid navigation from the summit of Ben Nevis in adverse weather conditions to try to prevent walkers and climbers from inadvertently straying towards the fatality blackspot of Five Finger Gully (Coire Ghaimhnean) as they headed for the Mountain Track descent.
By November 1996, someone had taken the trouble to carry some sort of cutting equipment (some say it was a hacksaw and some say an angle grinder!) in order to remove the poles as the opposing viewpoint of situating marker poles at the summit was it was both an intrusion and affront to the wild nature of the mountain and could lead to people make a journey they were unprepared to make and would not have done so were it not for the supposed 'safety' and false sense of security of the markers.
The tit-for-tat placing and removal of the marker poles went on for a number of years before the 2004 decision was made not to erect them again, at least for now...
It was a lot harder than we thought it would be but we kept going. We got up to the summit plateau but it was covered in mist and was very cold
In May 2006, conservation volunteers from the John Muir Trust were undertaking the removal of three quarters of the 100 or so cairns on the summit of Ben Nevis to help prevent confusion of weary walkers, when, much to their amazement, they unearthed what appeared to be an entire piano, aside from its keyboard, from underneath a stone-built cairn.
Although a man by the name of Kenneth Campbell, a woodcutter from Ardgay in the Highlands, said it was probably the remains of a 226lb organ he had carried to the summit in 1971 to raise funds for charity (he played Scotland the Brave at the top, much to the delight of some Norwegians climbers who danced along to the music), the John Muir Trust are adamant it was a piano due to its steel frame and metal strings, and believe, thanks to a 1986 McVitie's biscuit wrapper found with it, that it was the piano carried to the top by a team of removal men from Dundee, led by Mike Clark.
Mike Clark, of Dundee, who has now retired, said: "A group of 24 of us took the piano up the mountain. We attached poles at the front and back with four men on each pole. We took it in turns to carry the piano.
It was a lot harder than we thought it would be but we kept going. We got up to the summit plateau but it was covered in mist and was very cold. So we sat down and drank a bottle of whisky and ate a packet of McVities biscuits.
We decided it was best to break up the piano and carry it down in pieces but we couldn't smash up the cast iron frame and the wooden casing attached to it. It was very cold touching the iron frame so we built a cairn of rocks around it and left it there. The biscuit wrapper blew into the cairn and was covered up too."
The mystery of why the piano was missing it's keyboard was also solved by Mr Clark: "We carried the keyboard down the mountain and the keys were given to everyone who took part as a memento of the trip."
The wheelchair was probably hidden under the cairn so that the people who carried it up the mountain were spared the effort of taking it away
A further twist to the list of 'strange things found on Ben Nevis' was the 2008 discovery of a rusting wheelchair, also hidden under a cairn.
"The wheelchair was probably hidden under the cairn so that the people who carried it up the mountain were spared the effort of taking it away," commented Sandy Maxwell, Conservation Activities Co-ordinator for the John Muir Trust. "We have no idea why a courtesy transport chair has ended up at the top of Britain's highest mountain and can only guess that it was some sort of stunt."