I just got back from holiday and managed to complete my last munro :>> up on Mull on the summit of Ben More! It was a cloudy day, but we still got a few great views. Although my biggest problem was that I’d lent my normal climbing bag to my dad and hadn’t properly cleared out my larger overnight rucksack before setting off (I ended up carrying a cooking pot and noodles to the summit :oops:) nevermind the fact that I decided to bring up a bottle of single malt whiskey and a hip flask of Drambuie (well what do you think I was going to do on the summit? drink water? :D).
So my last munro was sort of like that bit in the Simpson’s were homer drags a stone of triumph up to the summit of the mountain….except I wasn’t naked!
All in all it was a grand day out, the cloud meant it wasn’t that hot (I got scorched to a crisp over the last week doing other hills! Indeed if Rudolph wants to take a break I think my nose is red enough to do his job for him :))) and we all got a nice wee break on the Island of Mull, although my nerves are still shot from driving on all those single track roads trying to avoid being driven off the edge by locals or suicidal sheep.
For those of you who don’t know it the munro’s are a list of 282 mountains first complied by Hugh Munro (who ironically enough never completed all the hills on his own list) back at the turn of the 1900’s. To become a munroist’s (as I now can claim to be) you must climb all of these 282 summits….or is it 289?
The munro list (current one here) is sometimes criticized for being a bit arbitrary about what is and isn’t a munro. While to qualify as a munro the mountain has to be at least 3,000ft (or exactly 914.4 metres in metric) its not quite clear how “subsidiary tops” i.e. tops connected to the primary summit should be treated. Some, like the 7 summits on the South Glen Shiel ridge are all considered munro’s, while the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan (Glencoe) isn’t considered a munro (despite being well over 1100m and a good km away from slightly higher Bidean Nam Bian).
Also as modern measurement methods improve one or two munro’s have actually been downgraded to the lower “Corbett” status. Indeed there are now about 4 mountains around about 914 metres (i.e. about 2,999 ft Beinn Dearg in Torridon being the most famous perhaps) which despite being just a few feet short of the magic number don’t actually count as munro’s….of course on the off chance someone piles a load of stones on top in the future I’ve made sure to do all of them as well!
Munro himself argued that one should really do all the subsidiary tops as well as munro’s. Now while I’ve not religiously followed this principle (i.e. it depends on what you count as a top or not) I’ve generally tried to do the tops as well.
So all in all I’m I’m pretty confident I’ve done all the munro’s, “high Corbetts” and key subsidiary tops. Indeed just before I did my last munro I went to Skye to go back and do Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh….or as I prefer to call it “Scary Geordie“…..I call all the cullin hills “scaries” anyone wanting to know why, go give a few a try and you’ll find out pretty quickly, particularly if you start with Sgurr Mhic Chonnich (or “scary in my pants” as we’ve dubbed it). I’d been unsure whether I made the summit last time as it was cloudy and I’d done in my GPS on the way up (it and gravity had a bit of a dispute and gravity ended up winning!). Needless to say I was glad to get up there and confirm that I had in fact done it before…..although last time I had missed the slightly lower 2nd summit.
Favourite munro? I won’t want to say, but definitely the ones in the Torridon area would count. Just google pictures of Torridon in winter to find out why!
Hardest munro? For technical effort and “gibber factor” the Skye ones have to win this one hands down. However for physical effort I’d rate An Sgarsoch & Carn an Fhidhleir in Western Mounth (between Blair Atholl and Braemar) as the toughest. While they were just boring hills, the distance you have to go to be able to climb them is quite considerable, especially as I opted for the option of camping which meant walking in over another munro to get to a spot where I could camp, do them the next day and walk out again (back over the Carn A’Chlamain and out a further 15 km’s back out to Blair Atholl).
Obviously this answers the “lest interesting” munro question. Some are indeed just boring rounded hills that aren’t really worth doing unless you’re purposely doing the munro’s. Although often it can be improved by doing them in difficult conditions (e.g. winter) or by approaching them from a different angle (that’s my excuse when I don’t read the map properly, start walking in the general direction of the summit and run into tough conditions underfoot!).
So what next? Well I’d like to get around to doing all the munro’s under winter conditions, so I might do that. I probably won’t do absolutely all of them (as I mentioned some are really worth doing again), but as many as I can I’ll do. I’ll also have a go at the Corbetts. These are hills between 3,000 ft and 2,500 ft. Some would consider them “lesser” hills than the munros. I’m not one of those people, indeed I’ve been doing quite a few as I went along. some of the Corbetts are actually quite tough. As I mentioned some are only denied munro status via a technicality. Some are actually quite isolated, so the effort involved in getting to them is harder. And it should be remembered that its often technical difficulty (i.e. do you have to climb rather than simply walk to the top) that makes a mountain hard to climb and not height.
Casing point, I went out and did a Corbett, Beinn Dearg Mor back in April (thus in snow) and it involved an overnight stay in a Bothy, two river crossings (fortunately fairly low water levels) followed by a fairly tiring steep climb (with a bit of scrambling in places) up to what I assume was the summit (white out on top, will have to go back some time and make sure! :??:) then back over the rivers and out again.
Indeed while the number of munroists lists in the tens of thousands, there’s probably only a fraction that number who’ve done all the Corbetts as well. So its not as if I’ll be short of things to do!