Our blog - 40 Munros, Oct'17

A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

40 Munros and Tops

14-19 October 2017
Helping on a 5 day Munro bagging challenge to raise funds for charity. Kevin was leading....

Through the middle of October, Chris Auld was with us for a week looking to climb as many Munros as possible and all in name of cancer research, for which he raised a considerable sum of money. Chris was doing this for a friend and colleague, Albert, who lost his battle with Sarcoma last year.

Day 1

Prior to arriving in the Highlands, Chris had already pinpointed the areas with the highest Munro bagging potential, so we started on day 1 with a tough set of hills flanking Glen Falloch by Crianlarich. To begin with, we climbed to our first summit of the trip, An Caisteal. While all closely spaced, the Crianlarich summits are separated by deep boggy saddles, and we made the trip out to Beinn Chabhair on this trackless wet ground.

Gaining the top of Beinn a' Chroin brought a return to good erosion tracks, but not for long; another long, boggy section awaits toward Beinn Tulaichean! But the weather was also breaking to calmness and a weak autumnal sun. It would transpire to be some of the best conditions of our trip. With Beinn Tulaichean gained, we crossed to Cruach Ardrain and it's misted summit cairn. We finally dropped down the NW arm, Meall Dhamh, to meet the track at last light and a dry walk out to the car park.

Day 2

Our second day began with an early-morning change of plan thanks to a car breakdown ! Instead of a long day traversing the 7 Munros in the Lawers range, we headed to the Mamores - tho we knew we wouldn't get all 10 Munros today. Here we got a taste of the less palatable October weather, bent double with wind on Mullach nan Coirean! Only the large cairn gave some shade. Stob Ban was almost as windy, but en route the cloud tore open, streaming tendrils from the ridges and giving far flung views down to the south-west coast. Surely another highlight of the trip! We finished the day in marginally more gentle conditions across Am Bodach, Stob Coire a' Chairn and An Gearanach to finally drop to An Steall and Glen Nevis in twilight. Just a few miles of quick road walking and we were back to the car.

Day 3

A rest day !

Day 4

On our third day of hiking, we went north to Glen Shiel, crossing the South Shiel Ridge and its seven Munros. Overnight rain had made the rivers high, but we quickly gained the high crest and followed it west to east with the wind to our backs over the successive summits. This is such a gentle ridge, and allowed fast progress. At the end of the day we dropped back to the old Tomdoun road which would lead us out to the Cluanie Inn, where we'd helpfully dropped another car to save on any road walking.

Day 5

The following morning, we met at Lawers on the banks of Loch Tay and again utilised two cars to make the most of the long linear ridge winding around and by Ben Lawers. A high elevation start got us onto Meall a' Choire Leith in good time. Here the stags were courting, parading and jostling; making themselves known and filling the coire with their gutteral rut. As we walked off Meall a' Choire Leith a searing crosswind chilled us, but luckily it would ease off for the remainder of the day. Here we would see our last views until the final descent; the following six Munros went by in thick mist and a gentle dampness. All the while, and as throughout the week, Chris put in a really strong shift, never slowing or stopping. You would never have known this was his first trip to the Scottish hills away from Ben Nevis, but Chris is an avid long distance walker and it was obvious: most people simply couldn't do the week we had straight off the bat.

In spite of the mist, we saw off each summit of the Lawers range one by one, and at the end of the day we dropped toward Lawers to find some warmth and dryness beneath the cloud – it was a different world down here. As with the previous day, we'd knocked off seven Munros in one efficient sitting.

Day 6

Our final day, and we met in the early morning drizzle at Glen Shee Ski Centre. Outside, a gusty wind rocked the car. The forecast wasn't to deviate far from this all day, and I knew it! This was also Chris' final day, an opportunity to pick up a grand total of nine Munros and the culmination of his fundraising goals. We started on Creag Leacach, once again gusty, damp and cold. A familiar feeling on this trip! It's very 'Scottish', but more views would have been appeciated. We crossed Glas Maol to Cairn of Claise, then went east to the twin paps of Tom Buidhe and Tolmount. Another interesting navigational exercise awaits to cross to Carn an Tuirc, and all the while we walked through this thick, clinging mist. It was only on the descent of this hill that conditions cleared up a bit. We took a break at the A93, knowing that we'd just be able to do the final three summits before dark. Carn Aosda fell in good time, but on Carn a' Gheoidh we could feel the encroaching night coming on. From here our last summit, The Cairnwell was on the way back to the car. In last light we crossed to it's summit buildings and mast, then made our descent on good tracks by headtorch. For Chris that was his last summit and fundraising target of the Munros. For a first Scottish mountain trip it was an awesome effort, and in some challenging conditions as well.

Best of luck Chris with the new life in New York, and congrats on the fundraising. If you fancy donating to Chris's fundraising for Sarcoma UK, then can you do so by clicking here.

More photos by Kevin are here on Flickr.

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