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Marhofn introduced me to some kindred spirits who have gone on to become bagging mates on various trips, events and hills over the years. I have kept my copies of the magazine, as it is interesting to see friends' progress into and through the Hall over the years. The features remain interesting, the hall of shame and some baglogs funny.
Eighteen years ago, I was significantly committed to Marilyn bagging. The Marilyns were clearly superior to the then recently subjectively re-re-re-revised Munros. What was not to like about a much larger, much more diverse and much harder challenge that could occupy a good part of a weekend explorer's life. Many devotees were convinced they would never be finished, which did not detract from the pleasure one jot. I am delighted we were wrong. There has been no change in my commitment. Exploring new ground still kicks the ass of repeat ascents and a couple of hundred remain to visit. Marilyns have been a cornerstone of trying to cling to relative sanity, bagging an average of more than one a week for the 25 years I have lived in Scotland. As more areas become bagged out for Marilyns, the Humps have given sanctuary.
I found RHB in Nevisport Fort William on a biblically crap day and loved the absence of route descriptions, the liberation from Munros when the sky is scraping the sea, and introduction to the islands, particularly the uninhabited ones. The annual dinners that grew and grew and were a natural focus for tackling expensive objectives with a boat full of fellow eccentrics, aided by discovery of Hamish Haswell-Smith's book and Alan Holmes and John Mackay's trip organisation. Then passing 600 and 1000 Marilyns with good friends on the Rum Corbetts.
The highlights are Tryfan, the finest mountain in Britain, after mass swimming in Llyn y Cwn, and A'Mhaighdean, the best view in the whole of beautiful Scotland. Lowest of the low were being black with midges on Creise, innumerate Muilach drenchings (Yoda's planet in Star Wars was surely inspired by Mull), ingesting pine needles on Hill of the Wangie, and that special welcome to many lower Welsh hills.
My feelings about Marhofn ending are deep gratitude to those who wrote, edited, kept score, funded and took photos for it. As for the future, more bagging than bogging or bugging with luck.
2015 started with free-range GOMLs trolling about on the southern approach to Earl's Seat in January, then one of our numbers disappearing up to her waist in a snow-hollow on the way, before region 26 was dispatched. The Fruin could not have been any more sodden in March - I vote to have the star removed from its name and would advise wellies for any who follow.
Beinn Chapull involved a lot of estate road bashing to an impressive heptagonal enclosure at Fineglen (sure is), but improbable parts of my anatomy picked up two extra ticks at some point.
Creach Bheinn was the first decent hill of the year with good north-east slope névé and buckets of erratics on the way. Meall Mheinnidh, in the sunny half of a Torridon week, gave stunning views to A'Mhaighdean via an amphibious bag using the Loch Maree hotel boat. Margriet meantime bagged Beinn Lair, while our faster friends Mark and Alison managed both in the inflexible time allowed between drop-off and pick-up. Mull had its invariant pantomime foul weather in May, however the zeolites from Beinn na Sreine's summit rubble are the best I have ever found. I used midsummer for the 40km tramp to Carn Ban. Predictably, conditions were great until very near the top, so I have still yet to see the legendary cliffs of Seana Bhraigh.
August was the first of two Welsh sorties. Margriet so enjoyed the mining ruins of Tarrenhendre and Tarren y Gesail that after some gratuitous scrambling on Moelwyn Mawr she decided to go off-piste through another extensive set, completely undeterred by their tenuous relationship with the car's location. Craig Cwm Silyn on a stunning day completed my Welsh Marilyn bagging project of 18 years.
Back in Scotland, the good weather continued with great views from Ben Venue and its tops with associated outbuildings. A fun day on Stroma organised by Sarah Kerr gave the opportunity to bag Cnoc nan Cuilean on the way home. This has many closely-spaced flat and deceptively comfy rocks that are ideal for sunbathing. The contrast with conditions during the pissing-wet GPS yomp on the supposed group of five Bridge of Orchy Corbetts was complete. I called it a day after three of these, with one of the drier interludes being a knee-deep wade on the way out. Better things were to follow on the Sunday. Cruach Tairbeirt has a summit view that takes some beating. Fortunately, the forest thrash, with many wind-fallen trees to negotiate, tussock grind and heather stumbling required to get there will administer exactly that beating for you.
Meall Lighiche is not only a good stance to join up the mental map from Glencoe to Glen Creran, it sports a garnet-studded top to make up for the annoying off-track diversion round the Gleann Leac na Muidhe holiday buildings. Beinn Maol Chaluim turned out to be the last Corbett of the year, an exceptional hill I lingered far too long on, resulting in an insane route march to drop down into Glen Etive into a large herd of stags in the last gasp of twilight. The intrusive rock bands on the way up were as spectacular as the views over to Ben Starav and Bidean nam Bian.
Christmas was crowned by sunshine and snow on Ben Griam Mor. A giant flask of hot tea did the business to a backdrop of Bens Loyal and Klibreck, with a tantalizing preview of the yet-to-be-climbed Ben Armine.
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