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.

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