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My database records 212 ascents (P30m or above) for the year, 36 of which were overseas. A trip to Iran in July was only a month after their disputed elections. With the group consisting of USA and UK citizens, I was expecting (half hoping?) that our visas would be refused or the trip would be cancelled. In the event, it all went very smoothly. Iran is a fascinating country and Damavand is an iconic volcano. There were several hundred people on the mountain, as our ascent coincided with a Shiite festival. The Iranians were very friendly and went out of their way to show that they were happy to have westerners around. The week also featured my first sighting of Phinella Henderson from London, who has already climbed ten of the world's 50 most prominent peaks. The Iran team included Bob Packard from Arizona, with whom I have now done four trips. From Tehran we flew to Barcelona, then in the course of a week drove north to Aneto, the Pyrenees highpoint, south to climb Almanzor near Madrid, and south again for Mulhacén in Extremadura. Aneto and Mulhacén concluded Bob's longstanding project to climb the 12 most prominent peaks in Europe; not bad for a 73-year old American. It was quite an easy trip as the Spanish roads are excellent and temperatures at altitude were pleasant. Almanzor has good scrambling and is one of my all-time favourites.
The onset of winter was put off awhile with three long-weekend Ultra-bagging trips. First was the Massif Central, with Richard and Andrew Tibbetts, for an Ultra and a few other summits; an interesting trip, particularly when we came round a bend to see a Peugeot 105 on its roof with a young lad crawling out of the window. Next was Gran Canaria with Bob Kerr, who led me up the superb Pico de las Nieves. I also bagged Fuerteventura's two interesting desert P600s. The trilogy finished with a solo trip to Madeira, the main goal being Pico Ruivo (my 52nd Ultra), sadly done in the rain, which continued for the traverse to Arieiro. This route is heavily engineered, crosses several rock faces, and is fascinating even with no views. However, Pico Grande lived up to its reputation as a viewpoint. The levadas (water channels) which contour round some outrageously steep slopes also provided fascinating walking.
The main UK highlights were, of course, the two St Kilda trips. Boreray and Dun were added in April, and the elusive Soay in September, along with an unexpected and entertaining bonus in the form of Stac Levenish. Apart from the various armchair-tick SubMarilyn promotions, these three were my first new Marilyns for six years. Getting three in a year rather exceeded expectations. Boreray joins the ranks of lifetime favourites such as Brandon, Cadair Idris, Olympus and Almanzor.
UK bagging was otherwise trig-centred; only 282 last year (bringing my total to 5714) but including some rather special places such as Ronay and Wiay off Uist and Benbecula.
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