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Travelling light enables long days for climbing Munros


Many years venturing into the Scottish Highlands with repeated annual pilgrimages to favourite peaks such as Bidean nam Bian and Buchaille Etive Mor in Glencoe and Liathach and An Teallach in Wester Ross elapsed before I came across Munro's Tables - the primary target list for Scottish hillwalkers. The astonishing abundance and wide distribution of 3000ft summits throughout Scotland was a relevation and opened the window to many new areas never previously considered. Surprisingly many of the Munros are well within a comfortable day's outing while the appropriate and judicious use of bicycles, canoes and skis facilitates access to some of the more remote summits.

Nevertheless, the easy options eventually run out and to complete a round some long, hard-day's footslogging is then inevitable with 14 or more hours on the go involving total ascents and re-ascents amounting to some 10,000 feet - far harder than a typical day on trek in the Nepal Himalaya. However such long days dispense with the purgatory of carrying a heavy backpack of overnight camping and cooking gear for the multi-day expeditions that would otherwise be necessary.

The compensation obtained on these mammoth excursions is the satisfaction gained from collecting a fine bag of some of the best Munros and the enjoyment of some of the wildest and most spectacular of the Scottish landscapes.

One such long and demanding day and a considerable undertaking is the traverse of the Mamores with 10 major summits including the outlying Sgurr Eilde Mor. Although the main ridge rarely falls below the 2500ft contour, substantial diversions on subsidiary branches to An Gearanach and across the Bad Step on the Devil's Ridge to Sgurr a Mhain contribute significantly to the time and effort involved.

 The Mamores

The Mamores

Another peak bagger's delight is the elevated Cluanie Ridge running along the south side of Glen Shiel with its seven peaks in seven miles giving fine views down into Glen Quoich and across to the Five Sisters of Kintail. On my traverse in an all-day deluge my new Goretex jacket proved its worth and was still functioning well some years later when I donated it on a trek in Nepal to my cook Lalu Limbu. "Water not coming," he happily pronounced as he tried it on in a monsoon downpour. All-weather clothing is an essential for tackling the Munros - to await forecasts of completely perfect days a round would never get completed.

South Shiel Ridge

South Shiel Ridge

Between Loch Monar and Loch Mullardoch a chain of four peaks extends deep into secluded, deserted teritory. Returning from the outermost, An Socath, late in the evening along the lochside I was horrified to find the way blocked by the Allt Taige burn in heavy spate. It seemed as if I had climbed almost back to the ridge-top before I managed to get across - a nasty sting in the tail of a tiring trip. Fording streams is one of the potentially fatal hazards of Scottish hillwalking.

An Socath, An Riabhachan and Sgurr na Laipaich from Beinn Fhionnnlaidh above Loch Mullardoch

An Socath, An Riabhachan and Sgurr na Laipaich from Beinn Fhionnnlaidh above Loch Mullardoch

Slioch

Slioch

Ensconced beneath the mighty ramparts of An Teallach, the bothy at Sheneval can be used as a base to claim the six Munros embedded in the heart of a great wilderness area. However an early morning "alpine start" from the Dundonnel roadhead allowed me to complete a one-day circular tour of the six summits which provide some of the finest viewpoints of all the Munros. Perched on the nicely pointed, rocky top of A Mhaighdean, claimed by many to be the remotest Munro, a superb 360 degree panorama unfolds of the surrounding rugged mountain-landscape including an impressive outlook across Loch Fada to the imposing bastions of the fortress-like Slioch. A sensation of total isolation is experienced in the all-pervading silence.

Skye Ridge

Skye Ridge

The most adventurous, challenging and sporting of all the many possible of Scotland's high-level traverses is that of the seven-mile Sky-ridge with its 11 Munros including the Inaccessible Pinnacle - the most difficult of all the Munros and the greatest hurdle for most aspirant Munroists. Sustained scrambling is involved in negotiating the long, narrow arete with its rocky towers, gaps and sharp teeth. Although tedious and tiresome diversions on "tourist routes" are sometimes possible to bypass difficulties, rock-climbing equipment and experience are necessary for a strictly logical progression. Twenty hours is not unusual to complete the traverese while overnight bivouacs have sometimes been enforced on slowcoaches.

The Commentator, The ( Glasgow ) HERALD, Saturday 18th September 1999:


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Maps - Scotland:


Gairloch, Ullapool & Loch Maree OS Map Aviemore, Granton & Cairngorm Mountains OS Map

Torridon Map Kintail, Glen Shiel - Map Cairngorm - Map Arrochar Alps - Map Glasgow Popular Hills - Map Lochnagar & Glenshee - Map Skye, Storr & Trotternish - Map Skye - THe Cuillin The Munros Map Ben Nevis Map West Highland Way - Map Ben Nevis & Glencoe OS Landranger Map



Travel & Guide Books:




  

The High Mountains of Britain & Ireland  Munros Tables SMC  The Munros - Scotland's Highest Mountains  Scotland - Lonely Planet  NW Highlands - SMC Guide  Exploring the Far NW of Scotland  Guide to Walks in NW Highlands

Walking in Scotland - Lonely Planet Mountain: Exploring Britain's High Places  National 3 Peaks Walk Scottish Highlands Hillwalking Guide The Scottish Islands Bouldering in Scotland

Scotland - Lonely PlanetScotland's Highlands & Islands - Lonley Planet Scotland's Highlands & Islands - Rough Guide Highlands & Islands of Scotland - Hidden Places Rough Guide ScotlandScottish Highlands & Islands - Rough Guide Rough Guide: Scotland Lonely Planet, Walking in Scotland Lonely Planet - Walking in Britain

50 Walks in Glasgow & SW Scotland 50 Walks in the Scottish Highlands & Islands 50 Walks in Edinburgh & Eastern Scotland 100 Walks in ScotlandVisit Scotland - Touring Guide Scotland: Where to Stay - Hotels & Guest Houses Scotland: Where to Stay - Bed & Breakfast Hillwalker: The MunrosHillwalker: The Corbetts

The Munros: Scottish Mountaineering Club The Munros and Tops The Corbetts - SMC Call of the Corbetts Munros & Corbetts Chart The High Mountains of Britain and Ireland Magic of the Munros The Munros - Scotland's highest mountains

Munro Almanac The Munros: Scottish Mountaineering Club Hamish's Mountain WalkThe Munros in WinterMy Scotland by Hamish MacInnes 50 More Routes on Scottish Mountains Scottish Mountains - 50 Classic Routes

The High Mountains of Britain and Ireland Scotlands 100 Best Walks Scottish Mountains - 100 Best Routes Big Walks of Great Britain Classic Walks in Britain & IrelandScottish Hill & Mountain Names Classic Mountain Scrambles in Scotland Classic Climbs - Central & Southern Highlands

Mountaineering in Scotland and Undiscovered Scotland by W.H.MurrayMore Wilderness Walks Wilderness Walks Wilderness Walks 2 - Video Ski Mountaineering in Scotland Ski Touring in Scotland Skye Scrambles The Cuillin

Skye - W.A.PoucherA Long Walk on the Isle of Skye 50 Best Routes on Skye and RaasayScrambles in Skye The CuillinsThe Isle of Skye

50 Best Routes on Skye and Raasay - Chris Townsend Pathfinder Guide: Skye and NW Highlands Walks Pathfinder Guide: Fort William and Glen Coe Walks Rambler's Guide: Ben Nevis and Glen CoeGlencoe Rock & Ice Climbing Scrambles in Lochaber Rock Climbing in Scotland Rock Climbing SkillsThe FACE: Six Great Climbing Adventures

Ben Nevis: Rock & Ice Climbs Great Snow & Ice Climbs of the British IslesTorridon: A Walkers Guide 100 Best Routes on Scottish Mountains From the Himalaya to Skye One Man's Mountains - Tom Patey A Mountaineer's Tale - W.H.MurrayDougal Haston: Philosophy of Risk

The Glens of Rannoch Cairngorm Glens Glens of Trossach Knoydart to Morven Scottish Glens: The Atholl GlensThe Isle of Arran The Isle of Arran Walking in the Hebrides

  Southern Highlands - MapNorthern Highlands Central Highlands West Highlands The Islands Central Highlands SMCNW Highlands SMC Central Highlands: Six Long Distance Walks

The Cairngorms Cairngorms, Lochnagar, Mounth - SMC Walks in the Cairngorms The Cairngorms of Scotland Cairngorms Walks Winter Climbs in the CaingormsCairngorms - Mountain Bike Guide

West Highland Way: Official Guide West Highland Way: Rucksac ReadersWest Highland Way: TrailblazerThe West Highland WayWest Highland Way: Footprint MapWest Highland Way - Map West Highland Way - Map 100 Hillwalks around Glasgow

Weather for Hillwakers & Climbers Mountain Weather Guide to the Weather Weather: Collins Gem Hillwalking Handbook for Mountain Leaders Hillwalkers Manual Hillwalkers Guide to Mountaineering First Aid on Mountains

All Mountain Skier Off Piste Mountain Travellers HandbookMountaineering: Freedom of the Hills Mountaineering: The Freedom of the HillsHistory of Mountain ClimbingWorld's most significant ClimbsClimbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World

Mountain Leadership Handbook of Climbing - Hamish MacInnes Rope Techniques: The complete guideMountains of the Mind - A history..Mountains of the Mind - ExperiencesMaps and guides from Maps Worldwide










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