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Ken Butcher told me a few years ago that 'you don't have wet days when you are retired'. Well, I've been retired for five wet summers now and have concluded that this only applies if you live north of the Tay. Those of us who have to make plans in advance before heading north tend to get very damp indeed.
My first trip of the year was to the Lakes in February. Tony Rogers rang me from Grasmere before I left the Wirral and told me that it was snowing and we would not be climbing the Howitzer on Helm Crag that day. A few wet and misty days were spent Humping - I found that mist can be quite helpful when the top is in a field in view of a farm. March saw me heading for Gerry's hostel at Achnashellach. A planned ascent of Carn a'Chlamain en route with Alan Dawson was abandoned when he rang to tell me it was snowing in Crieff. We made do with a sunny couple of Sma Glen Humps in deep snow.
A depression settled over Gerry's - and me - for a week while the rest of Britain enjoyed unseasonable sunshine, and I only managed a couple of Munros. Moruisg was climbed at the second attempt after 90 minutes in a blizzard had threatened hypothermia on the first. Morale was low on my return and I contemplated packing in my belated attempt to finish the Munros, first started in 1966. However, Alan offered to provide company on some of those remaining whilst he contemplated a second round. Our first foray was in April to Glen Urquhart hostel where we bagged six Munros in three longish days in the big glens.
Andy Tomkins and I went to the Portree meet together and endured a miserable five hours on an 'easy' Marilyn, Beinn a'Mheadhoin above Dornie. The only tip for the top for this hill is 'don't bother'. A lovely sunny day on Raasay with Messrs Bloomer, Woods and Law cheered me up whilst Andy was battling with the In Pinn in the mist.
The wager mentioned in last year's magazine ended in defeat at Portree as Chris Bienkowski climbed an enormous number of Humps in the early months of 2011 and won our Humps challenge.
Alan and I headed for Poolewe in July and did what are now known, in our house at least, as the Fisherfield Five. Two long days in and out from Kinlochewe were separated by a sunny 'rest' day on Poolewe's local Marilyn and Hump. Eleven Munros bagged and only half a day's rain in our seven days out together so far. The SMC's reluctance to accept the Munro Society's survey, which effectively demoted Beinn a'Chlaidheimh to Corbett status, is a sorry state of affairs.
A lone trip north in mid August gave me another five Munros ranging from the Cairngorms to Torridon. An incredibly wet day on Carn a'Chlamain set the tone, which continued via Slioch and back to Monadh Mor, but morale was again high.
My 240th Munro and last of the year was the Devil's Point on a seriously windy day in early October. It would have been my second Munro if brother Tony and I had not walked past it en route to Cairn Toul after a night at Corrour bothy in 1966. High winds prevented further high-level bagging on the trip.
The end of October saw three of us enter the Hump Hall of Fame on Harter Fell in the Howgills. A great day out with our fellow baggers. However, the year ended as it began with a failure to get up the Howitzer in mid November. As consolation, I did pick up 30 assorted tops during the long weekend in Keswick to take my 2011 total to 177.
I'm hoping that the new year's Marilyns will begin with a boat trip up Loch Etive to bag at least one of the Grahams that have easily won the title of most popular hills of 2011 in this year's baglogs, Beinn nan Lus and Meall Garbh.
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