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When do you count a Munro?

When do you count a Munro?


Postby weedavie » Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:06 pm

There's discussion going on about summitting on Ben Avon that seems to be generating more heat than light.https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=63866Essentially the controversy is about when can you claim you've done a summit. It seems to me that the beauty of hill-walking is that so much of it is in your head and you're at the top when you think you are. My father had been a walker from before the war. I once asked him had he been up the Cobbler. "Dozens of times". Did that mean through the Eye, I persevered. "Why would I want to do that?" he said. It's all in the point of view.

I've no intention of doing the In Pinn, so I'm willing to be purist and say you should stand on the Bolster Stone. I didn't count Ben Avon until I'd returned and climbed the tor, but I'm absolutely happy with someone who says "I reached the tor so I've done it." In fact when the SMC screwed aroud with the list in 1997 and made some ludicrous promotions, I felt they opened the gates for everyone making their own lists. I've done all the promoted peaks but I don't count them. On the other hand I do count the Affric Sgurr na Lapaich. It's an amazing hill and it was on Munro's original list. Besides, if you go back to the original list, then Sgurr Dearg is the Munro not the In Pinn, though I'm still not going.

The sadly missed Angry Corrie fanzine had another couple of controversies. Can you start your second round of Munros before you complete your first? I've a friend who's on the edge of finishing his third round. A couple of other friends, who're not yet on 200 first time around, refuse to recognise his second round as it contained about 90 Munro ascents done during his first round. I leave them to it.

The other consideration was whether you could claim two ascents of a Munro on a single trip. For instance if you do the Beinn Eibhinn ridge via the Lancet's Edge, you end up doing Aonoch Mor and Geal Charn twice. That is, on a four Munro ridge you reach Beinn Eibhinn and say "Three down, three to go!" The Angry Corrie's attitude, and I go along with it, was you just count 4. On the other hand, Hamish Brown in his first trip round all the Munros claims Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain twice when he comes back across it on the ascent. I won't do a full round but I'd like to get beyond 1000 ascents so I'm throwing away quite a bit in the number of Lancet's Edges I've done.

Anyway, as I said, it's all in your head (and let's not talk about the times you thought were on the summit and you were on a top - or in my case, once on the wrong hill entirely).
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby DopeyLoser » Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:09 pm

Interesting topic. I think you have multiple things in here though.

1. Can you say you've climbed it if you knew what the highest point was but didn't stand on it? Yes you can say that according to your own definition of done, you've done it. If someone says you have to stand on the highest point, then you can say that's your definition, not mine.

Of course some definitions of done could not be acceptable by any reasonable person e.g.

- claiming you've climbed a hill when you never even set foot on it
- claiming it when you turned back half way up, or three quarters of the way up or any indefensible distance up

So like you say, it's all in the point of view.

2. What edition of Munros list should you count? I am sure this has been discussed to death but I will just say do whatever list you want; if you can complete multiple editions of the list e.g. by including 'originals' such as Sgurr na Lapaich then good for you. Maybe the SMC should (or already do?) get compleaters to note what edition they did.

3. Start second round before completing first? i.e. do rounds have to be consecutive or can the overlap? I am not sure there are any rules. You just have to do what feels right to you, i.e. set your own rules for yourself, with the knowledge that others can do their own thing.

4. Two ascents on single trip? Oh dear.

5. The summit was redefined after you climbed it: do you go back? Like you say, it's all your own point of view.

Wrong hill entirely? I've started out on the wrong hill more than once but I don't think I ever reached the top thinking I was on an entirely different hill! Or maybe I did. Oh dear ... all those hills I did before I started recording with GPS ... I'll need to go back and do them again!
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby nigheandonn » Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:11 pm

The last time we had this discussion, some people seemed to be conflating two things which I thought were fairly different - cheating a completion by claiming (particularly to a recording body) that you've summited hills you haven't, and using the hill maps on this site in a different way from them.

I mean, I think it would be needlessly misleading to - for example - use the lists as a list of hills you're interested in - it makes sense to me that if you've ticked a hill off, you should be able to talk about it. But if you want to tick off a hill to say you've been there, particularly if you don't really plan to go back and want a visible record of where you've been already, I can't see that it's doing much harm.

(The Cobbler for me, and Plover Hill. I might well go back at some point, but it's a bit unlikely I'll ever reach the completion stage...)

No double counting on one day, unless it's the last hill of one round and the first of another :-) But if you think about it too much it just gets worse - is it ok to wait and go back tomorrow?
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby jmarkb » Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:24 pm

It's very hard to come up with completely watertight definitions of bagging ethics - there will always be grey areas and exceptions. I would claim that the only really important rule is to be honest about what you have done and how you did it.
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby davekeiller » Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:30 pm

It depends what you want to do.
If you want to compleat the Munros, then I think you really ought to stand on what is believed to be the highest point of every hill on the list on the day you stand there. You'll also need to pick a version of the list and go with it.

If you just want to sit in the pub and say "I've climbed x" then whether you stood on the highest point is less relevant, assuming that you reached a high point that could reasonably be called "the top".

Personally, I would have thought that if you want to do multiple rounds then you ought to finish the first before you start the second, but I'm not going to get het up about it.
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby jmarkb » Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:57 pm

davekeiller wrote:Personally, I would have thought that if you want to do multiple rounds then you ought to finish the first before you start the second, but I'm not going to get het up about it.


I suspect one's attitude to this is strongly influenced by the number of repeats you happen to have done on compleation!
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby iain_atkinson_1986 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:53 pm

Does it really matter? It's just a hobby.
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby Moriarty » Thu Sep 19, 2019 7:12 am

So many thousands of people have completed the Munros that it doesn't seem worth getting in any way hot under the collar about what someone else counts as summitting.

Personally, if there's a 30m tor looming over my head I wouldn't feel I'd got to the top, if someone wandered over a flat summit area to the cairn to tell me the "true" summit was an indistinguishable rock 50m away and 1cm higher than where I was sitting I wouldn't care.

Of course, if you're climbing hills to gain the approval of others you need to climb them in whatever way elicits approval (or lie about it). :wink:
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby Phil the Hill » Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:18 pm

As I think the OP was saying, you set your own rules.

I got some odd looks on Beinn Bhrotain by bagging the embedded rock on the flat plateau that Hill Bagging said was the true summit feature, as well as the large cairn. I haven't necessarily been that precise on all previous Munros, but thought I might as well do it properly whilst I was there.
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:23 pm

I tend to think of my walks as a kind of wandering along. The summits, if I reach them, are an incidental part of a nice walk. They are a place to stop, to soak in the views (if there are any), and to turn round and start heading for the pub. My TRs and my "munro map" on here are a record of some walks I've done, not a list of hills I've done.

So I don't have a view on the specific question - but the thread did bring to mind the thoughts and feeling of Joe Brown and George Band on their ascent of Kangchenjunga.

George Band said "A wall towered about 20 feet above us. The amber-colored face was broken by several deep vertical cracks and Joe, without a second thought, wedged his body into one of them and with a tremendous struggle forced his way to the top. It was the hardest part of the whole climb. Suddenly he turned and shouted, "George, we're there!" I clambered up and there before us, some 20 feet away and five feet higher than the ground on which we stood, was the very top, a gently sloping cone of snow. Since we had promised the Sikkimese not to disturb their god by stepping on the uppermost crest, we stopped short. But the summit was ours."
https://www.si.com/vault/1955/10/03/597924/the-conquest-of-kanchenjunga

Joe Brown said “I didn’t feel like I’d conquered the mountain. I don’t know why people use the word conquered – it’s such a stupid word. You never conquer a mountain. You either reach the top if you’re lucky, or if the weather’s bad you’ve had it. When I reached the summit my overwhelming feeling was relief that I didn’t have to keep going up.”
https://www.markhorrell.com/blog/2012/joe-brown-provides-a-rare-glimpse-of-kangchenjunga/
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby Lightfoot2017 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:07 pm

"You're at the top when you say you are" :shock:

?

Really? Errmmmm no...you're at the top when you're at the top. The summit cairn, trig point or whatever.

We can't all go just defining reality when it suits us. If that was the case I could add another few dozen Munros to my tally.

I think we need to keep this sensible and not get all metaphysical or philosophical here. You're AT the top when you're AT THE TOP. :lol:
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby Lightfoot2017 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:10 pm

As an addendum to the above I never say I've successfully bagged a Munro til I'm safely back at the car.
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby jmarkb » Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:06 pm

Lightfoot2017 wrote:You're AT the top when you're AT THE TOP.


Easy to state, but can you sufficiently define "AT" in the following cases:

  • The highest point is buried under a huge cairn or mast or other man-made structure
  • Rocky summit like the Cobbler or The In Pinn - standing next to top, touching top, standing on top?
  • An Dun: Two tops 400m apart that are the same height to within high-res GPS accuracy (3cm)
  • Flatish summit areas with no cairn or other marker
  • The summit cairn or trig point is not actually the highest point on the hill
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby Dave Hewitt » Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:08 pm

jmarkb wrote:I suspect one's attitude to this is strongly influenced by the number of repeats you happen to have done on compleation!

Absolutely. It's impossible to really know, but from having done a lot of research into this kind of stuff over the years, I think that the considerable majority of people who post on hill discussion forums are pretty "linear" in their hillgoing, ie they don't tend to revisit hills apart from after a considerable interval, and this gives a rather skewed perception of the wider hillgoing world where a much larger number of people than tends to be realised routinely revisit (but for some reason tend not to talk about it so much online).

If someone has been on a particular hill or a group of hills a fair bit, then they're unsurprisingly likely to feel disinclined to be required to make another visit for some particular list-related reason that was probably devised by someone more on the linear side of things. To take a fairly extreme example, next week I'll be helping to scatter the ashes of Alan Douglas, a lovely man who completed one round of Munros (in June 1985 - he's no.396 in the list) but who made exactly 2800 ascents of Ben Lomond. Clearly any of the latter 2799 ascents could have counted towards a second Munro round, but had Alan completed this (which he never had any intention of doing), it would have been a bit silly for him to then have to make another ascent for it to count towards a third round. He would surely have done so anyway, but in that kind of situation it's hard to argue that there should be any formal requirement.

Actually, perhaps a better example of this relates to Alan's brother Ian (happily still around). He too has completed just one Munro round (July 1986, no.461), and has likewise been up Ben Lomond a lot, but he's also probably the person with the second-highest lifetime Munro tally (after Richard Wood). Ian once said to me that if he went to Skye and climbed the In Pinn seven days in a row, he would come home with eight Munro rounds. I for one would find it hard to begrudge him that.

Incidentally, my dear late friend Ken Stewart - an accomplished golfer as well as a very keen hill man - was the person who came up with the concept of a "golfer's round" of hills (starting with a clean slate each time as one does in golf), as opposed to a cumulative method. But it should be noted that Ken (who did double rounds of both Munros and Donalds) maintained his two totals for any list in parallel and if anything came to lean towards the cumulative method of looking at things.
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Re: When do you count a Munro?

Postby jmarkb » Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:57 pm

Thanks very much for that Dave - as informative as ever!

The "golfer's round" does somehow seem to have acquired some mythology as the being the "proper" or "approved" method.
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