Andrew's 284th Munro

There is a climb on Buchaille Etive Mor called The Chasm, a 450 metre VS "alongside" a waterfall, where a literary guidebook might use the famous assessment of the poet Lord Byron by his lover Lady Caroline Lamb..."Mad, bad, and dangerous to know". The story from Tenk and Brian Harrington unfolded in Crianlarich Youth Hostel as various car-loads of friends gathered in the evening. Climbing in a torrent, belaying on a puddle, standing on snow with nothing underneath.........Tenk and Brian evinced a need for whisky and red wine, which fortunately was not in short supply.

By 9.30 next morning, the sleepers at the YH had been joined at Inveruglas by Tracey, Gareth, and dogs, Frank from Glasgow and Keith from Edinburgh, so with a final head-count of 21, the whole gang set off down the tarmac road to Ben Vane. However the tarmac runs out, and the path steepens up the craggy end of the hill, calling for full boiler pressure from Geoff Earp and Brian McClure, who had not done this work for a few years, although Mike Stancliffe had been out and about nearby the previous day. Never mind, the early cloud lifted to a day of glorious sunshine, the views became totally excellent; and finally, Brian, myself and Brian Tucker rounded the last crag to see all the rest gathered just below the summit, like a flock of birds on a cliff ledge.

So now we made our "summit push" and reaching the cairn I pulled out some malt whisky from the bag. Turned round, to face champagne bottles coming at me from all directions........felt just like Lewis Hamilton for a bit !!. But I don't recommend taking a big swig from a champagne bottle neck.... all the bubbles in the windpipe......ouch !!

A totally idyllic scene. We were all able to lounge about taking uisge and champers and nibbles and photographs on the conveniently large summit, in bright clear sunshine with no wind and excellent views. Not too far away, stood Ben More at Crianlarich, my first Munro of 20 years before. A time for reflection, then, and giving thanks, for the hundreds and hundreds of hill days in between. Richard Kendrick said some nice things, as did our esteemed Chairman Simon Weston, and then they all shut up so I got a word in.

I wanted to mention Absent Friends, harking back to Mike Spence now in Spain, Mike Connell now in USA, Jack Pezzey in Australia, Lesley King and Gethin in New Zealand, Angela Ryan delayed in Switzerland. The pattern that most people who spend time with me on the hill, subsequently flee the country, is a bit worrying !!. I blamed Robin Denton for starting all this, by buying me a book in the days when we were innocent and didn't know that the hills were called "Munros" or that they were on A LIST. Still, it's good to work out that I climbed more hills on that list (53) with my late mate Antony Wright than with any other person.

By 12.30 the options were to descend for an early stupor, or press ahead. The day was so good, that 11 of us trotted of full of bubbles towards Ben Ime, whilst some returned and others circled north on a spur of the hill and down to the dam. Pete Mac joined Frank Keith and me for a rough scramble up the west ridge. At the summit, we met claims that the others had got there first, but this was disproved when Simon walked up in his green boots. I am sure the rules clearly say, that all of a group must be at the summit for it to count. (I must look this up...).

Unfortunately, this dispute distracted us from filling Lizzie Freedman's rucksack with large rocks: so she shot off in a blur of light towards Beinn Narnain. {Lizzie is now appointed Coal-Carrier on future bothy trips, by the way}. After that, with Mark and Amanda and Emily, we aimed for A'Chrois, but peeled off the ridge as time was getting on, and we finally got back to the cars at 7.00 pm. A super hill day had by all.

At Crianlarich, the somewhat basic Rod and Reel far excelled its moniker of "Rotten Deal" and gave us nice food and plenty of space. And just when I thought it was safe to pat my belly after the apple pie, POP........out of nowhere appears a "284" chocolate cake with icy bun summits and candles. Impressed ?? I was.

Everyone had reached comfortable tiredness on such a grand day, so an alcoholic riot did not develop on this occasion.
Alarms were set to "early" to catch the best of Sunday, when we all spread ourseves happily about. Steve Green and Brian T took Steve's dog up Chrualiste, Tenk Pete and Emily climbed on the Buchaille; Paul Walkington, Keith, Frank, Lizzie, Amanda and I went up Curved Ridge to the summit of Buchaille Etive Mor. Steve Whitehead went for a "brief run" .....up and down Cruach Ardrain. And there were some big breakfasts and some dog walking.

And then we all trundled our ways home again.

What a great gathering of so many people !

My thanks to all who came, to make and enjoy this most memorable weekend.