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The plan for the first half of the year was to climb sufficient Marilyns to enter the Hall of Fame at the Strontian meet. This only required 18 new hills, but I had a sub-agenda to get my youngest son Jamie up 100 Marilyns in the exact year between the Builth Wells and Strontian meets. This would take him up to 217 and beat his dad's record of 96 in a calendar year.
I got off to a great start in February with a spectacular afternoon ascent of Stob Dubh in Glen Etive. Staying for three days in Inbhir-fhaolain with York Alpine Club, I knew that my excess flab and lack of fitness would mean a very slow trudge up the northernmost flanks so that I could traverse the whole summit plateau. It was not surprising, therefore, to be approaching the top with a gorgeous fiery skyscape at sunset. I reached the summit 45 minutes after sunset and got down the hyper-steep start of the north ridge in fading light. It was well and truly dark for the last hour and a half as I picked my way gingerly down.
Jamie joined me for a Lakes trip in March and for three days mopping up southern England, starting on Worcestershire Beacon and Bredon Hill. I actually found the trig on Christ Cross this time, hidden in foliage on top of a wall. Since I had secateurs and a mini-saw in the car, I gave it some breathing space again.
Staple, Hardown, Lewesdon, Swyre, Nine Barrow, Win Green, Butser; it sounds like a Marilyn shipping forecast. Finally Black Down and a quick staircase climb up the southern wooded slopes of Leith Hill. Only three new ones for me but Jamie was motoring. Working up the logistics of the final few weeks for getting both our goals, we had to settle for a week in the Trossachs before coming back to York so that Jamie could go to Essex for two days. We then set off back to Scotland on the Friday of the Strontian meet, with me needing one new Marilyn and Jamie needing five to complete the cunning plan. We did Belling Hill to get me to 599 but rain and the Corran ferry meant abandoning the two tiddlers near Rannoch Moor.
I duly celebrated my 600th on Cruachan Charna, but two more were needed for Jamie before the evening meal. The target was achieved on Meall nan Con late in the afternoon with the backdrop of Ben Hiant, which I had done on the second week of my honeymoon 27 years previously. Jamie celebrated with a finger gesture and a cheeky grin at the trig pillar, to show how much he was bothered about hitting the 100.
Two weeks in August and October clocked up a further 14 Munros and leaves me with 13 to do, plus about 20 repeats to get the Murdos needed to achieve a Murdo Munro finish on Ben Vane on 28 July 2012 - my 60th birthday.
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