The Last Ramsay Round Recce before the atempt

Day 1 22nd May
18 miles 6,200 feet

After travelling up early Will and I arrived at Glen Nevis campsite, set up camp then headed straight for Fersit. Our plan was to complete the Grey Corries section of the route. In November we had cut short an attempt at them all in one go, due to severe winds and fading light. We left the car and ran around the base of Stob Coire Mheadion and Stob Coire Essain, to travel up the valley along the left hand side of stob coire claurigh. The wet weather on the drive up thankfully didn’t follow us, and we set off in beautiful weather. My usual map reading error led us up on the traverse around too early but we carried on and did a bit of extra ascent. We were glad we did as if we had of gone the easiest - correct - route we wouldn’t have seen about 70 deer all in one mass herd.

Eventually after a detour to a small bothy, we arrived at the col between Stob Ban and Stob Coire Mheadion. We ascended Stob Ban so that we could check out the descent line, up and down. After a long ascent we were finally back on the route that we left in November. The descent of Stob Ban was fast and enjoyable on yielding ground. 20 minutes and we were on the valley floor. The ascent of Stob Coire Essain is the longest on the round, within a leg. It felt it; we took a longer line which saw us traversing a long way across the summit ridge. We both agreed it was not the fastest route, and more direct was better. Stob Coire Mheadion was a nice up and down, we then descended a good line but went down to the grit road at Loch Treig too early and struggled a bit in crags. But it was a good day out and not too long given we had 2 long days yet to do.

Day 2 23rd May
22 miles 5,700 feet

Bill had travelled up and he joined us for a point to point from Fersit dam to Kinlochleven. In dank weather we crossed the dam and sniffed out the route through the woods and up the tough tussock strewn climb of Stob Coire sgriddon, we picked our way up and eventually made the top in thick cloud. The conditions slowed us down as none of us had been on these hills before. Chno Dearg was fairly confusing with several little ups and downs on the way, the climb was easy though. We took a break on the top and got cold, probably not the best place to take a break, as a stiff wind whipped around the cairn we sheltered behind.

The line off Chno Dearg was good but we ascended a bit early to the summit ridge we all agreed a longer lower traverse would work better. We had a quick stop on the summit then descended a confusing -well in cloud anyway - ridge line towards the railway underpass. The line we took was good; this was aided by finally getting lower than the cloud and getting a sight line to the bridge. The long run around the West end of the Loch Trieg and on around the river to the track and on to Loch Elide Mor was more fun and easier than I had anticipated. Now the sun came out for the first time to make it all the more pleasant.

This wasn’t to last and when we got to the end of our recce at the lodge at the bottom of Sgurr Elide Mor the heavens opened. Bill decided to walk the 4 miles down to Kinlochleven, due to a sore knee. Will and I ran to keep warm. Our reward for this was a cup of tea in the Climbing centre in Kinlochleven. Will and I shook hands in the knowledge that we had now, finally, set foot on the entire round.

It was another good day out. But after retrieving Wills car from Fersit and having a shower we were too late for a choice of food, again. So it was the Indian, and another Chicken Madras. It seamed to be doing the job anyway.

Day 3 24 th May
9.5 miles 5,800 feet

Will and I decided that a circular run from our campsite at Glen Nevis would be prudent, as we had to travel back home later on. So we decided on Ben Nevis followed by Carn Mor Dearg then a descent off the Ramsay Round down to the climbing hut, a run around the base of Carn Dearg and then onto Melantee before descending via the tourist path to Glen Nevis.

For the most part the weather was good and we found the route reasonably easy to navigate. Even the snow covered clouded top of Ben Nevis was negotiated reasonably easily. For several reasons we were well off the schedule on Carn mor Dearg, in fact at that time we should have been on the next summit, Aonoch mor. It was slightly disconcerting. But we decided that an impromptu toilet break followed by a lot of snow on Ben Nevis and a lengthy chat with a Ramsay Round completer, on descending Ben Nevis, explained this lack of speed over the ground.

We ended the day with an ascent of melantee, which pleased me, as for years I have looked at it from all angles but for one reason or another never ventured onto its top. Will was also pleased to add another top. The final bit of ascent to it was tough and all the previous 2 days hills could be felt in my legs. Will made me feel better by admitting he found it tough as well, even though it is a short ascent. We descended back to the campsite happy at finishing our recceing and also finishing our serious training before our attempt on the round with Bill Williamson and maybe Chris Reade on June the 6th.

Maybe it’s the training or a slight lack of confidence, but I feel that this round suits me less well compared to the Bob Graham and the Paddy Buckley Rounds. I am starting to think that the long ups are not what I do best. But I suppose I will find out soon enough. Hopefully I can be good enough at them to get the job done.

2 day Ramsay Recce Blighted by bad weather

8th May 2009
4,400 ft 13 miles

This was a rubbish trip. The snow line was down to 1,000 feet and I never really had a chance. Being on my own meant the safety margins would be tighter. On the first day my aim was to go over Ben Nevis then Carn Mor Dearg , over Aonoch Mor then to descend down to the Nevis Range. This didn’t quite happen I ascended Ben Nevis and climbed up into a white out. I decided better of carrying on with my proposed route and carefully navigated my way off the top. These were the toughest conditions I have ever had to negotiate on a mountain top. What made it tricky is that it is a flat top with shear drops on most sides, if you get your navigation wrong it can and has been fatal - hence the navigation lines on the maps - which I had to use. So I was glad to get out of the clouds and down safely.

9th May
21 miles 6,300 feet

The 2nd day started with a downpour, and during this I drove out to Loch Treig, observed the torrential rain from my car. I decided that, with the cloud down to the snow line at about 1,200 feet it would be too much of a chore to go on new ground, and I wouldn’t learn much either. It had taken me 10 minutes to rationalise the pros and cons in order to make this decision, as the rain continually lashed my car. I went back to Fort William and did a run from my hotel to Stob Ban over Mullach Nan Coirean - in deep snow - and back to Fort William via Cow Hill. The weather got better as the day went on and I descended Mullach Nan Coirean in sunshine. Their were only 1 or 2 more showers as I made my way back to Fort William to finish an enjoyable, mixed terrain run.

Duncan and Chris Paddy Buckley round

2nd May
10 miles 5,500 ft

Ian and I started to enjoy our bacon bun in the pinnacle cafĂ© in Capel curig just as Chris came in to his 2nd rest stop. We had travelled down to help both of them on their PB attempts. Duncan was going to start here at 10:00 am, where as Chris had started in Pont Caer Gors some 10 ½ hours earlier. Chris was going well and took a quick breather before heading off to Moel siabod and the start of his third leg.

Ian set off with a nervous Duncan on a fine day. Dead on 10 am I waved them off, then set about killing 6 hours of time, prior to helping Chris on his final leg. After successfully killing the time I made my way around to Aberglaslyn where I joined Chris on his final leg. He was still going strong and soon we were off, I was nominated as the navigator, somewhat reluctantly I took up the challenge. It was only my 3rd trip around this leg, and one of those was my own round. So I wasn’t exactly confident. But in the clear weather it wasn’t to be too much trouble.

Apart from a few minor errors we pretty much took the ideal lines. I proceeded to take some snaps in the gorgeous afternoon sun as we made our way towards Y Gyrn. As we descended to the col we started choosing our line of ascent in order to miss as much of the heather as possible. It worked and we picked a good line up. The rest of the run around the Nantlle Ridge went well, the weather started to show signs of changing as the clouds rolled onto the ridge. Chris finished strong and in an impressive time of 21 hours 26 minutes.

I got a lift and retrieved the car. There was a rumour that Ian was to have a crack at the whole round. But after 1 ½ legs and about 9 hours he started to feel tired and came down about half way along Duncan’s leg 2. We met up and made our way to Llanberis to wait for Duncan, Here I was meant to join him to go over the Glydderau on his 4th leg. So after a curry Ian and I dozed in his car waiting. At about 1 am the rain and wind started to lash the car. I thought it would be bad for Duncan on his Snowdon leg.

Duncan and his support came in revealing that they had called it a day. He had been thwarted by bad weather in much the same as last year. In fact he had done exactly the same round as last year, and been hit by bad weather at the same point in the round over Snowdon. Commiserations given, and a beautiful bacon bun courtesy of the Andy and Pam, consumed, and it was 3 am and Ian and I were off for what was to be the most tiring drive of my life.