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I managed 44 in 2004, ranging from Devon to the Ullapool area. I have now reached that point every Marilyn bagger faces when the distances get greater and the new hills get fewer, though I'm not helped by my self-imposed aim of finishing the Welsh Marilyns and SubMarilyns before picking off more local English ones.
Travelling north-south in Wales is always a slow ordeal, with no A9 to whisk you on your way. By the year-end I had only one Welsh Hewitt to go (Tal-y-Fan), which I am saving until I have just one Welsh Marilyn left. St David's Day saw me on top of Pen-y-Fan in 32A, on a fine sunny day with much lying snow, only somewhat marred by a primary-school party from Cwmbran who seemed more interested in bagging the maximum number of fags in the time available than the stunning view. Also lodged in memory is a fine long summer's day linking Waun Rydd and Cefn yr Ystrad, in a round of the Talybont Reservoir. The real find of the year was Ysgyryd Fawr - diminutive in elevation but not in grandeur. This must be one of the finest of the lower hills of Wales; a real jewel, to be savoured often.
Scottish trips also featured much. In February the only safe way to ascend Meall a'Bhuiridh (3C) in blizzard conditions was by following the ski-tows as 'handrails'; the first time I have been grateful for these unsightly human imports into the Scottish wilderness. In May I was back on Skye, where I managed to nibble away a bit more of the Cuillin, as well as marvel at the Sanctuary and climb The Storr. I managed to add to my Corbett total while attending the Marhof gathering at Aberfeldy, but the Scottish highlight of the year was definitely An Teallach in perfect weather in early September. I was also very pleased to get to the summit of Stac Pollaidh on the same trip; I am no rock climber, and am very grateful for the patience of my companions. The Scottish year ended in December with two Arrochar Corbetts and a pre-Christmas get together with hillwalking friends in Arrochar.
I also managed to add four summits of 150-metre prominence outside Britain - two in Italy and two in Switzerland, bringing my total to 15. The most memorable was a day ascending the Brienzer Rothorn (2350m/1342m), the high point of the range lying between Lakes Luzern and Brienz in Switzerland. After a cowbell-sonorous ascent I was amused to summit to the sound of a brass band playing in the restaurant below. The panorama of the Jura and Black Forest to the north, and the Berner Oberland to the south, was truly stunning.
The first few months of 2005 have been marred by a medical condition that has prevented me from making even simple ascents. It is particularly when you are confined that you realise how much hillwalking has come to mean to you.
My lack of exercise has, however, given me more time to advance my project of listing all the mountains of France, which is my contribution to the Worldwide Prominence Project (see www.peaklist.org). The trouble is that I keep getting distracted by other lists before I get anywhere near completing one. Now that I have added continental Europe and Ireland to my sights, I can see that reincarnation is the only way to make real progress.
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