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After the excitement of reaching the Hall in 2011, 2012 was likely to see more meagre pickings on the Marilyns front. This proved to be the case. My tally was not helped by the fact that the Marilyns in Wales, England and the Isle of Man had all been scaled before I entered the Hall, leaving my nearest unclimbed one over 200 miles from my home in north Wales. I could also plead the atrocious weather and concentration on other lists - English Hewitts, and Welsh Humps and Deweys - for my poor tally in 2013, though I know that such pathetic excuses are likely to cut no ice with people who read this journal.
The twenty new ones were of a very varied nature, and dotted across the length and breadth of Scotland. As I happened to be in the area, 2012 started with a brief ascent of the rather muddy and unsightly Cairn Pat. I next got into a bit of a habit of climbing section 9B Carn Deargs, with two in Glen Roy in March (the 817m and 768m ones) and the 945m one in the Monadhliath in May. The third Carn Dearg was climbed in the company of Jonathan de Ferranti on a long but excellent day that also took in the Graham Creag Liath. I really warmed to the vastness of this area and weep for the destruction of this wild wet wilderness by pylons and construction traffic.
In the previous month Andy Tomkins and I took a long day-trip north to section 28B to meet up with Jonathan for a day's bagging. Rubers Law was by far the finest of the day - a rugged hill of great character.
My next trip north of the border was a bit of a tour of the western Highlands and islands, ending up on Islay for the 2012 dinner. My three nights on Jura beforehand were the highlight of the trip, and the clear day we had on Beinn an Oir was one of the more memorable of the year. I will be back there for sure to bag the other two Paps.
After that, my abiding memory of 2012 was water water everywhere as the heavens opened and did not close again. Odd days out were grabbed between deluges for hills in Wales and England, but it was the end of September before I got up to Scotland again. Despite the dire forecast for our stay in Ullapool, we managed three Corbetts over the long weekend. Canisp was climbed in pretty dire conditions, but left a sense of achievement. Typically, the sun came out to taunt us as we got back to the car.
A few more were added as autumn moved into winter. A quick ascent of 296m An Cuaidh in a brief weather window during a family holiday in Gairloch helped my tally along a bit. In November I undertook two mad day trips. The first was with Andy Tomkins with his young budding-bagger son James to my nearest unclimbed Marilyn - Bengairn. This is an excellent hill with more of a Highland aspect to it than expected in this section. The tally reached twenty with a solo trip back to section 28B for Lamington Hill and Goseland Hill, the latter one done in complete darkness. Any ambitions for another foray north in December were dashed by the onset of some mental health problems that still keep me off work at the time of writing. As part of my therapy, my doctor has recommended I keep hiking, so I do still get out on the hills of Wales and England when I can summon up the inclination and energy.
Although my tally of new Marilyns was only twenty, I did manage ten repeats in 2012. Most memorable was Helvellyn (fourth ascent) in May on a long day bagging the Hewitts along its northern ridges. The weather was wonderfully hot. By chance, I was accompanied on my route to Red Tarn by a party of school girls from north London. They rather ruined the peace of the fells, but showed infectious delight in the landscape in which they found themselves. A second ascent of Cross Fell in July to bag the Hewitts on its southern flank was also a day of sunshine and great views. I also managed to top up my vitamin D on a long hike up and over the deeper more hidden recesses of the Carneddau in September, including my sixth ascent of Carnedd Llewelyn. My last repeat Marilyn of 2012 was with Andy Tomkins and young James on Mynydd Caergybi - the finest small Marilyn in Wales and England, in my opinion.
Although my Marilyn tally was not great, I was busy on other lists during the course of 2012. I managed to add nicely to my tallies of Hewitts, Deweys and Humps, so 2012 was not a total wash-out.
I also got out for two list completion celebrations in 2012. The first was in October, when I was the sole witness for John Kirk's same-day completion of the Welsh and English Deweys and Hewitts on Foel Lwyd and Tal y Fan respectively. In November I was one of a party of twelve and a dog for Des Taylor's completion of the Welsh and English Humps on the small, but beautifully formed, Cefn yr Ogof.
Further afield, our annual summer holiday helped us to escape our sodden homeland for a while for the sunnier climbs of Poland and Austria. While in the Polish Carpathians, I added five to my tally of Polish 1000m summits (PL-km1s) with two long hikes, one over the Tatra foothills and the other in the Beskid Slšski massif. On our way home, during a stay in the charming village of Hallstatt in Austria, I was let out for a day to ascend the P1030 Gamsfeld (2027m - an A-km2). This hill comes with a big recommendation for the variety of landscapes on the trail and diversity of wildlife - I saw a flock of over fifteen ptarmigan and stunning views. I only met two people all day. It was definitely my finest hike of the year.
On the European hill-listing project, new lists have appeared on sites.google.com/site/europeaklist covering Montenegro and the Faeroe Islands. More will follow.
It's easier to go down a hill than up it
but the view is much better at the top.
- Henry Ward Beecher
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