Bills 4th Ramsay attempt

21st August 2010

20 miles and 11,000 feet
plus and up and down of the Ben 9 miles and 4,200 feet

The 4th attempt was an epic effort both from Bill, and in the end from Will and I. I can’t remember feeling so tired during and after a support run. Knackered doesn’t even come close to describing how I felt.

Will decided that it would be (it wasn’t) a good idea to join Bill and Andy at the start and accompany them up the Ben. We were already planning to walk in and meet him at allt na Slochdaig and support him on the Mamores ridge to the end at Glen Nevis, and this itself is about a 10 hour stint. So on a cool breezy Saturday morning at 11am we set off up Ben Nevis for Bills 4th attempt on the Ramsay round. The first climb went without incident and Bill held a nice steady pace. Will and I left him to continue to Carn mor Dearg and beyond with Andy as we turned and descended back to Glen Nevis.
We spent the day fuelling up for what we knew would be a tough night. We just didn’t know how tough. We decided to walk in with the mid section support, so we set off earlier than needed in order to help Ian and Rhiannon out. By the time we reached allt na Slochdaig it was 9.45 pm it was dark and had started to rain. As soon as we got there we discovered Yiannis curled up on the floor in a bivi so Will and I copied him and got into our bivi bags (think Orange bin liners with a peep hole). It was the most miserable hour of my life. It was cold, boring, midge ridden, uncomfortable and dark. I could feel the energy being sapped out of me and we hadn’t even begun running yet.
After what seemed a life time huddled in our bivis, but in reality was only about 1 ½ hours, Bill and his pacers head torches appeared. When I got out of the bivi I instantly felt very cold. I was glad when Bill had finished refuelling and we were on our way onto Sgurr Elide Mor. Will Yiannis and I set off at a good pace and soon warmed up on the eastern flanks of this monster climb. Will and I remember this being very tough on our round, we still have mental scars from it. Bill was attacking it more from the eastern ridge to try and ease the gradient. It didn’t make much difference it was still tough. On nearing the summit we could see Bills previous leg and mid section support heading back to Mamore lodge on the track far below. The summit was very cold and windy, especially for this time of year.
We ticked off the peaks nicely and on time, when we approached the long out and back to An Gearnach I made the decision to refill the water bottles at the stream and wait at the col. I knew I would get cold doing this but never realised that for the next ½ an hour I would start to think seriously about not getting hyperthermia. I had to keep moving slowly up the next peak Stob coire a chairn in lea of the ridge just to keep some heat flowing. I was seriously cold and just before dawn it was a very hard place to be. It was a mistake to wait I should have gone with them. I couldn’t believe how miserable I was for the 2nd time in one night. I was so pleased

when I could see their head torches descending the slope opposite.
Re united we continued in cold and ever wetter and windier conditions. Bill was slowing down and not even daylight and the ability to see where we were going made a difference. By the time we reached the last 3 peaks it was obvious that Bill would not make it inside 24 hours, the 11 o’clock Glen Nevis deadline looked impossible. We tried to encourage Bill along but the conditions had drained him. Even meeting Chris Armour on Sgurr a Mahaim didn’t make a difference, although I think it took the strain off will and I, as both of us were feeling very tired. At this point Bill vowed to continue and finish the round.
Will and I found some more energy, and after Stob Ban moved off ahead and carried on, on our own, deciding that Bill had enough help with Chris and Yiannis and that we needed to get off the mountains. We were both at our limits, So when we got to the jumble of logs at the bottom of the last munro were the loggers had made the worlds toughest assault course, we were less than amused. Several cuts from trees later we had cleared it. We then ran the track reminiscing of our round the previous year. We had the dubious task of informing the waiting support that he was o.k. but would be late.
All credit to Bill for toughing out those 26 odd hours. The weather was less than favourable and at this time of the year the longer nights make it tougher. Knackered doesn’t even come close to how I, and Will felt. But compared to Bill when he came in we were full of life, he really had given it everything. As it is his final 1 of the big 3 I’m sure he will be back for a rematch and next time with better conditions I’m sure he will win.

(top image) Me and Bill before the start and the food that proved to be only just enough.

Bills Ramsey Round take 3

3rd July
11.5 miles and 8,200 feet
plus up Sgurr an Luhair and back down (3,200 feet and 6 miles appx)

It has been a while now since Bill attempted the Ramsay round for his third time. I have taken ages to type this up mostly due to the disappointment of writing a report on another unlucky failure.

The weather on the day started off o.k., not too hot but cloudy, and at midday I set off up a packed (as usual) Ben Nevis with Bill. Bill was rushing when overtaking the tourists, so I reminded him to keep the pace even. We did and by the top of the Ben we were bang on schedule. It was raining and very cold on Ben Nevis, this meant slippery rocks on the roughest part of the round. The traverse to Carn Mor Dearg along its arĂȘte was hard going burt we made good progress. By the time we reached the next summit of Aonoch Mor we were just a couple of minutes down. The ascent of Aonoch Beag was good and a steep drop down to Will and Carwyn (who were sheltering in an orange bivvie bag) went without a hitch.

I left Bill here and Carwyn and Will continued the rest of the leg to Loch Treig Dam. I ran into the valley in improving sunny weather, to follow Glen Nevis back to Wills car and drove back to the campsite. Bill made good progress all the way to Loch Treig, but on the next section over the 3 Munroe’s around the loch he lost ½ an hour and by the time he was at the foot of Sgurr elide Mor he was still a ½ hour down.

At first light, on a wild wet Sunday morning Will and I made our way up out of Glen Nevis and onto Sgurr an Lubhair to meet Bill. We tried to time this right as we knew it would be very cold on the top. We were right when we arrived on the top at 08:00 squally gales were blowing through. Will and I huddled into a large orange plastic bag with feet sticking out of the bottom AKA an emergency bivvie bag. 1 hour of trying to keep warm whilst soaking wet, sitting on a rock in rain, driven by a gale, up a 3,200 foot mountain was not easy. My feet and hands were numb despite constantly banging them together. By 09:15 Will and I decided that Bill did not have enough time to finish it form here and made our way down. He needed about 3 ½ hours in those conditions. On the descent to Glen Nevis we pondered how much use we would have been to Bill anyway. The fight had been knocked out of both of us.

I think in reasonable conditions Bill would have succeeded as he only retired on Am Bodach (1/2 an hour away from Will and I) at 09:00 hours. So given the severity of the wind, he was still moving fairly strongly, until he realised that the weather was slowing him down too much, then the mind probably gave in to the fatigue, and it was game over on Am Bodach with only 3 Munroe’s to go. You will do it next time Bill.

Roll on the 21st of August Wynn and I have booked some good weather.