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Hard though it is to accept, non-believers may sometimes ask the question 'what's the point of bagging?' In darker moments some of us may even ask ourselves the same question. As an alternative to the obvious retort 'what's the point of anything', here are some point-scoring games to alleviate the unbearable pointlessness of bagging.
Gist: To climb your highest unclimbed Marilyn.
Scoring: One point for each time you climb your highest unclimbed Marilyn. Each hill can only ever score one point, and only one hill can count at each height, giving a theoretical maximum score of 760.
Aim: To score a point for Muldoanich. Or Stac Lee. Or to reach your own target, such as two points in a day, or 100 in total.
Example: I currently have five Corbetts left to climb. If I finished on the highest of the five, 895m Creag Mhor, then I'd score a point, but if I climbed the five in descending height order then I'd score a point for each one, adding five to my total (which I admit I haven't actually calculated). Anyone who has not climbed Ben Nevis has no points but plenty of scoring potential.
Rewards: Greater expertise in Excel or Access while trying to figure out how to calculate your score, or the pleasure of memories evoked by book-thumbing, should you prefer the manual approach.
Grey areas: i) Twin peaks. Only one can score but you don't know which one. ii) Height changes. A theoretical issue but in practice unlikely to trouble the scoring.
Weird variation: Keeping separate scores for England and Wales and having a race between them.
Gist: The game of cribbage played by visiting trig points instead of playing cards. Reading a trig point number equates to being dealt a hand of four or five cards.
Aim: To achieve your personal best score at a single trig point or cumulatively in a single day (if playing solo), or to score more than your opponent.
Scoring (one-player game): As in cribbage, but with noughts counting as ten and no suits or royalty. Scoring is always based on five numbers. For four-digit trigs, a fifth number is added by taking the last digit of the trig height, in metres.
Example: Muncaster Fell trig is number 5763 and height 231m, so its score is based on the hand 76531, giving a total of seven points, comprising one run of three (5-6-7, scoring three), and two sums of 15 (3-5-7, 1-3-5-6, scoring two each). This is well beaten by Grayrigg Forest, 5663 and 494m, which has two runs of four (both 3-4-5-6), three sums of 15 (4-5-6, 4-5-6, 3-6-6) and one pair (6-6) for a healthy score of 16, while Hutton Roof Crags, 5400 and 274m, scores eight points for two 15s and two pairs.
Scoring (two-player game): The second player's hand is determined by the trig height plus the last digit or two of the trig number. Players should take turns playing at home (trig numbers) and away (trig heights).
Example: Muncaster Fell deals 63321, for a score of ten (two runs of three, one sum of 15 and one pair, while Grayrigg Forest deals 96443 for just four points (one sum of 15 and one pair). Both are well beaten by Kerloch, 534m and 5855, giving a hand of 34555 for a heady 17 points (three runs of three, three pairs and one sum of 15).
Rewards: A way of making trig numbers interesting for a few minutes without having to descend the slippery slope of recording and collecting them (but don't forget to look at the view).
Grey areas: Whether anyone looking up a trig number in advance should be banned for life.
Weird variation: i) Aiming to score 121 points in a day (the winning score in card cribbage). ii) Using Landranger map numbers instead of trig heights to make up the numbers.
Gist: An anomaly exists when a hill you have already climbed changes category (such as Arnside Knott becoming a Marilyn). This can be rectified by climbing the hill again, in its new status.
Scoring: First work out how many anomalies you have in a given category, e.g. Munros or Marilyns. You then score a point for each anomaly eliminated, until you have reached your target.
Aim: To eliminate all your anomalies. This implies rebagging all those Marilyns you'd climbed before you'd heard of Marilyns.
Example: My first Scottish 3000-foot hill was Mullach an Rathain (Liathach) on 31 March 1975, when it was merely a Munro Top. By the time of my third ascent, in 1998, it had become a Marilyn, a Munro and a Murdo, so I scored a point in three categories. Had I climbed it in 1996 I would have scored only two points, as Marilyns and Murdos existed, but it was not a Munro until 1997.
Rewards: Smug satisfaction, moral superiority, the tortuous pleasure of explaining the rules of the game to a captive audience. Possibly some good days out on long-forgotten hills.
Grey areas: i) Whether you need to go back if the highest point has moved since your ascent, as your mental celebration will have taken place on the wrong top. ii) Whether to use the date of publication of a list or your own awareness of it as the critical reference point.
Weird variation: Counting hills that used to count but no longer do, e.g. bagging deleted Munro Tops.
Gist: To climb a different Marilyn on every date.
Scoring: One point per unique date and unique hill. Even if you have climbed the same hill 500 times, only one date can count.
Aim: To score 366 points.
Example: During four days in Tomintoul last winter it occurred to me that I didn't climb many hills in early December. It turned out that 4 December was a new date, pleasantly filled by The Buck and Tap o'Noth. Grayrigg Forest on 25 December filled another gap, leaving me with 39 virgin dates and a current score of 327. Over half the 39 are in November or December, with only 18 May missing between early March and late August. And I've twice claimed 29 February, the In Pinn of the dating game.
Rewards: Potential entry to geek heaven.
Grey areas: Whether the date of first ascent of a hill must count, or whether dates of repeats can be substituted, freeing the first date for a different hill and making the game slightly easier.
Weird variation: Climbing a new Marilyn on each date.
Really weird variation: Counting days of the week as well as dates, giving a potential score of 2562 (366x7) and a minimum completion period of 25 years and a day.
Gist: To meet more members of the Marilyn Hall of Fame.
Scoring: One point for a sighting or email exchange, two for a conversation, three for climbing a hill together, five for an accidental encounter on a hill.
Aim: To increase your total by more points this year than last.
Rewards: Life's rich tapestry, a stranger is a friend you've haven't met, that kind of thing, plus the reassuring possibility of meeting someone even madder than you.
Grey areas: Whether to count only first meetings, or whether you can upgrade your score from sighting to summitting etc.
Weird variation: Kidnapping those just above you in the Table and holding them prisoner until you have overtaken them.
Gist: To synchronise summit height with current Marilyn tally.
Scoring: One bilbo per baggins.
Example: Climbing 600m Black Combe as your 600th Marilyn.
Aim: To score at least one bilbo before you're bagged out.
Rewards: Shouting 'Bilbo' very loudly at the summit of a baggins.
Grey areas: Whether it's worth losing your friends just to score a bilbo. Possibly best played alone.
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