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Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?

Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?


Postby roykemp » Thu Nov 12, 2020 9:45 pm

Route description: Mount Keen from Glen Esk

Munros included on this walk: Mount Keen

Date walked: 07/11/2020

Time taken: 4.3 hours

Distance: 17.5 km

Ascent: 810m

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Now, let's get one thing out in the open here.

I cannot, and probably never will be able to, grow any meaningful face-hair. Even my old man chappin' on the door of 80 years old doesn't really seem to be able to cultivate much. I'm happy to accept that due to genetics, I'm always going to be face-folically-challenged and write it all off as a bad gig.

But then your colleague says he's lost his grandfather to prostate cancer recently and would you mind terribly participating in his Movember Team. One really cannot decline due to pride or personal insecurity, so it's lip-fluff central for the next month. If anything, people should pay more to witness the personal pain of someone forced to carry around a mouldy top lip for a month than they would to someone who can shave in the morning and sprout a magnificent handlebar by tea-time.

But, let's get back on topic here. I just thought I'd give you a heads-up well in advance of why my summit selfie looks somewhat like the Nazi that got chopped up by the propeller in Raiders of The Lost Ark:

10_Raiders.jpg
"It's beeeehind yoooooou!"


Yeah, that guy.

Anyway, back on topic. You may recall that, a fortnight ago, I hatched a last-minute plan to bag my first Munro, then pulled myself off the couch and executed the plan on Lochnagar. There was a bit more to it than that, mind. There was a little bit of wandering about semi-lost in snow and fog, a fair bit of hobbling and swearing, and a lot of the wife back home not being impressed.

So, in short it was brilliant. Time for another one.

The plan for last Saturday was wake up early doors, drive to Mount Keen and be up, down, and back on the sofa with a beer in time to see Scotland probably do something other than win against Wales. This plan failed on two counts: the Mount Keen weather turned to mince by Thursday, and the lads in blue did us all proud. Hardly a classic match, but it beats playing beautiful rugby and still getting pumped.

Thankfully, the weather this weekend just gone turned out far more amenable and there was no egg-chasing to dictate the schedule.

So, up at 05:30 and on the road by 06:00 with goal of starting the hike around sunrise. In spite of the good forecast there were horrible fog patches on the road down, one of which co-incided with the start of the 50mph zone at Laurencekirk, and I was well into it at 70mph before I figured out what was going on. Crawled the rest of it at 25mph to try to beat the average speed camera, but I'm half-expecting a letter from PC Plod. Good start.

A bit of pheasant-dodging later and I arrived at Invermark Car Park.

Now, in terms of what I did differently this time compared to the debut expedition, here's a wee list:

- Carrying about half the food I took up Lochnagar, same amount of fluids.
- Proper base layer and fleece under the jacket, not a t shirt and a hoodie.
- Everything now in a proper 20L daysack instead of my work laptop bag.
- Most importantly, I'm now in proper Berghaus walking boots instead of my steel toe-capped work boots.

You might remember I had knee problems coming down Lochnagar into Glen Muick, and most of the blame was put on the stiff calf-height boots putting all the shock through the knees. You lot gave me lots of great suggestions on stuff to try, but I like to eliminate one thing at a time. If I'm fixing something at work I like to find what's gone wrong first then replace it, instead of "firing the parts cannon" at something right away. Same deal here, quite happy to try one thing at a time. So it's proper boots first and see how we get on.

Also, quite happy to do some of the less demanding hills for a while to develop the leg muscles a bit. In hindsight, Lochnagar first was perhaps a bit of a big lump to tackle first.

Anyway, off we trot with the sun rising behind us. I'm rubbish at remembering things like what time exactly I set off, so I snapped a photo of a cow (I shall declare this to be Checkpoint Bovril-1) beside Loch Lee Kirk so my phone would save the timestamp. 07:28.

IMG_20201107_072813465.jpg
Must be doing Moovember


Off into Glen Mark and it's a cracker of a morning. The hat lasted about five minutes before being yoinked off the head and stuffed into the jacket pocket. The weather forecast had said "some cloud" and that was pushing it really; there wasn't much and it was all high above the surrounding hills, so after not being able to see three metres in front of me on Lochnagar, today would at least involve some nice views from the top! The rising sun lit up the Glen in yellow and orange and I'm the phone pic does not do it anywhere near justice.

IMG_20201107_075642859.jpg
Jaw-dropping in the moment, rubbish in a photo


The first wee challenge was at one of the fords, I think it was the Burn of Glascorrie one.The path leading up to it had itself transformed into a minor outflow from the burn, which suggested the burn itself would be in full flow. No bother, just take it easy and pick a good crossing route. That was the plan until I put my faith in a boulder that was both slippery and shoogly. One of those "I've got this, I've got this.... I've no got this" moments, but luckily there was another rock a couple of inches below the surface that provided a handy plan B.

IMG_20201107_074853982.jpg
This is on my map as a path, not a burn.


A quick stop the the Queen's Well for the obligatory photo and off we go again.

IMG_20201107_081336920.jpg
The Queen's Well - a.k.a the Ewe's Bidet.


Past Glenmark Cottages, across a couple of fords and into the ascent. I'm cooking a bit by now so I shed the jacket and proceed with just two layers. Not too far in and you get your first sight of the summit of Mount Keen in the distance. I'm sure as I do more and more of these I'll take my time and enjoy the surroundings a bit more, but at the moment I'm more focussed on just smashing on towards the top.

A little bit past the switch-back and it's time for a quick sit-down and a brew, and time to discard another layer as it's actually a fairly warm day now, believe it or not. Doesn't look like I'll be dealing with much snow today, anyway.

How are the knees doing at this point? Well, lets just say that both are starting to give a little bit of feedback, shall we say. Not necessarily what you would call pain, they were just making themselves heard. Conveniently, the going is a bit more level here for a wee bit before it gets steeper again closer to the summit.

Met a couple who were on their way down from the top. Obviously I'd got my backside in gear fairly early in the day, so I asked how early they'd set off. Turns out they'd been up at the top in time for the sunrise. That must have been absolutely spectacular, and fair to say I was highly jealous. One day, Rodders, one day... With the weather clear all around you can see peak and ridges all around, including one impressively craggy number off to the west. I found myself thinking "wonder what that big gnarly one is? Guess I'll be climbing it one day, let's have a look at the map." I confess to being fairly stunned that it was in fact Lochnagar and I'd conquered it a fortnight ago!

The path ends abruptly and you're into more rocky terrain, but with the peak in sight by now losing the path isn't a problem.

IMG_20201107_093041456.jpg
Ok, that'll be the end of the path, then.


Wait, this isn't the peak.

There's a cheeky bit, I think at the 850m contour line, where you think you're closing in on the summit, and then the real peak emerges in the distance. This must be soul destroying to anyone having a tough time getting up, but I'm enjoying the ascents a lot so wasn't disappointed to see I had more ground to put beneath my feet. A little boulder scramble and you're at the trig point.

IMG_20201107_094711786.jpg
Look closely, it's there, I promise.


Yeah, told you the moustache was rubbish. The things you do for charity.

A quick chat with two lads who had come up from Glen Tanar, a wee feed and a brew and I headed on down. Let's see how the knees go.

Their response was to start hurting like mad on about the 4th step of the rocky part of the descent. Are you kidding me? Four steps. That's all you two can manage without kicking up a fuss? Oh well, I guess the footwear isn't the magic bullet then. Luckily the rocky part of the descent doesn't last for long. Long enough for me to try a few things to alleviate the discomfort, though. Walking backwards? Probably worse. Sideways steps descending? Definitely worse. Sticking the bum out and keeping the knees bent at all times? Worse, and you feel like a tube, even with nobody else around to see. Oddly, when the terrain becomes smooth again there's no problem, no matter how steep the path is. Perhaps I'm pushing too hard on the ascent and straining the joints, and by the time I head back down they're already well on the way to causing grief. Are there any "inverse-Munros" anywhere that you can do a descent first, and then climb your way back out...?

Anyway, on the way back there are a load more people. This is not a hill for anyone looking for solitude, although the unseasonal weather was probably bringing a few more folk out than normal. I have been wondering how long it'll be before I can take my eldest (currently 5) out with me, and I met a bloke coming up with what looked to be about an 8 year old lad with him. I said hello and asked him how old his boy was. He gave me a fairly dirty look and walked right past. Either he didn't speak any English or I'd given him the impression I was some kind of mountainous species of pervert out doing some shopping. Yeah... probably my bad.

Making friends quickly on this new hobby of mine...

Not much else to report on the rest of the walk and managed to get back to the car without getting my face smashed in. By the time I passed by, Bovril-1 had trotted off into the distance and there's no way I was chasing after him for a selfie, so a crappy long-distance shot would have to be the record of my finish time. I make that 11:44.

IMG_20201107_114431360.jpg
"Look, if it's about the Bovril remark, I'm sorry..."


Hold on, up and down in 4hrs 16min? I mean it's not exactly a challenging hill but I think that's a bit too sharp for someone who then has the cheek to say his knees are giving him grief. Must take it more gently on the next one.

Speaking of which, the weather at Driesh & Mayar is looking ok for this Saturday. But again, Italy vs Scotland kicks off at 12:15... No, definitely not smashing in a hill and getting back home for that.

But if I was at the top of Driesh in time to see the sun rise? Hmm...

-

Here comes the pitch! If you enjoyed this tale please do consider bunging me a couple of quid for Movember. Literally a couple of quid would be grand, a couple of our British pounds here and there will all help. Thanks very much in advance! I don't think I can post a link on here but if you go to the [urlhttps://uk.movember.com/mospace/14383429]Movember UK page and look for MoSpace number 14383429[/url]. Cheers very much!
roykemp
 
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Re: Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?

Postby NeepNeep » Mon Nov 16, 2020 6:07 pm

Nice 'tash!
Another enjoyable report, thanks.
That scene from RotLA is an absolute classic!! Looking forward to Christmas for an excuse to watch it. :)
I took my mountain bike up (almost to summit) of Mount Keen whilst escaping the in-laws one Christmas a wee while ago....that definitely helps with your knees on the way down. The couple I passed whilst cruising effortlessly back down the glen defo had a jealous look in their eye.
By the looks of your tally you did D&M. Did you get down for the game? I was a little worried for the first 20mins....then a little more worried 2 mins later, then it eased up a bit. :shock: :clap:
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Re: Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?

Postby Sgurr » Mon Nov 16, 2020 6:47 pm

Please keep hanging around on this site I do like your style
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Re: Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?

Postby Geohalray » Mon Nov 16, 2020 7:39 pm

Sounds like we're having similar knee issues! Followed the breadcrumbs to read your Lochnagar adventure too (great writing), you got some great advice in the comments on how to tackle dodgy knees. I will have to learn a thing or two from all the wisdom so readily shared :D
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Re: Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?

Postby roykemp » Wed Nov 18, 2020 7:40 pm

NeepNeep wrote:Nice 'tash!
Another enjoyable report, thanks.
That scene from RotLA is an absolute classic!! Looking forward to Christmas for an excuse to watch it. :)
I took my mountain bike up (almost to summit) of Mount Keen whilst escaping the in-laws one Christmas a wee while ago....that definitely helps with your knees on the way down. The couple I passed whilst cruising effortlessly back down the glen defo had a jealous look in their eye.
By the looks of your tally you did D&M. Did you get down for the game? I was a little worried for the first 20mins....then a little more worried 2 mins later, then it eased up a bit. :shock: :clap:


Yes, I did indeed do Driesh and Mayar this weekend past. Tale of misery to follow... Had to be content with the radio for the first half though, then got home in front of the telly for the second. Well done the lads. Gutted the women's season is over as I was looking forward to seeing if they could kick-on after the France draw.
Last edited by roykemp on Wed Nov 18, 2020 7:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?

Postby roykemp » Wed Nov 18, 2020 7:42 pm

Sgurr wrote:Please keep hanging around on this site I do like your style


Enjoy them while you can, I've only got 278 of these things to go so won't be around long I'm sure! :lol:
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Re: Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?

Postby roykemp » Wed Nov 18, 2020 7:47 pm

Geohalray wrote:Sounds like we're having similar knee issues! Followed the breadcrumbs to read your Lochnagar adventure too (great writing), you got some great advice in the comments on how to tackle dodgy knees. I will have to learn a thing or two from all the wisdom so readily shared :D


Yeah, being serious for a minute my right knee is not liking any part of this. I'm away with work for a couple of weeks which will keep me off the hills, then have an appointment with my chiropractor who says he'll have a look at the knee as well.

I'm 1mm shorter on my right side due to an old vertebra fracture as well as having very limited movement in my right ankle due to a bad sprain when I was younger. I think he's just going to charge me money to tell me that I'm just well out of whack and the knee's the next thing to go creak :roll:
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Re: Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?

Postby Sgurr » Thu Nov 19, 2020 3:45 pm

roykemp wrote:
Geohalray wrote:Sounds like we're having similar knee issues! Followed the breadcrumbs to read your Lochnagar adventure too (great writing), you got some great advice in the comments on how to tackle dodgy knees. I will have to learn a thing or two from all the wisdom so readily shared :D


Yeah, being serious for a minute my right knee is not liking any part of this. I'm away with work for a couple of weeks which will keep me off the hills, then have an appointment with my chiropractor who says he'll have a look at the knee as well.

I'm 1mm shorter on my right side due to an old vertebra fracture as well as having very limited movement in my right ankle due to a bad sprain when I was younger. I think he's just going to charge me money to tell me that I'm just well out of whack and the knee's the next thing to go creak :roll:

All these guys tell clients they are 1mm shorter on one side than the other. I think it is a con to get expensive insoles custom made for you. I fell for it, so did a friend. In the grand scheme of bumps and lumps you walk across 1mm is neither here nor there. However, knees are knees. Husband has on dodgy one, and having had a hip repaired when he had a bollard related incident with no probs to the rest of his health, now wishes he had had a knee done while it was on offer and told them it was up to them to work round his other probs.
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Re: Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?

Postby roykemp » Wed Dec 02, 2020 1:37 pm

Sgurr wrote:All these guys tell clients they are 1mm shorter on one side than the other. I think it is a con to get expensive insoles custom made for you. I fell for it, so did a friend. In the grand scheme of bumps and lumps you walk across 1mm is neither here nor there. However, knees are knees.


Fair enough, but it wasn't a sales pitch, 'twas from the guy in A&E in Broadford Hospital on Skye with a copy of my X-Rays in his hand after I did this...

ImageHandler.jpg
No parking here, mate.


But you're right, knees are knees.
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Re: Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?

Postby Dunblane Bagger » Wed Dec 02, 2020 1:52 pm

Great post and sounds like you are enjoying getting into the mountains.

In terms of advice around your knees I find walking poles definitely help take the weight off your knees on the descent so would suggest you could look at buying some. I believe they take around 30% of the impact weight off your knees, and give your upper body a wee workout too.

The prices of poles vary wildly though (from £10 to £60 depending on where you look). I always buy online via Amazon and get walking poles at around £10 - £15 a pair, so quite little cost but will absolutely help your knees.

Keep getting out there and enjoying the mountains.. Sounds like you're catching the bug !! :clap: 8)
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Re: Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?

Postby Anne C » Sun Dec 06, 2020 8:23 pm

Great read! :clap: I agree completely about using poles - I couldn't be without them these days and in fact have needed them for well over 10 years now. They take a lot of strain off your joints. It's painful enough going up and down mountains :) without added aches which could (hopefully) be relieved somewhat. They're pretty cheap nowadays too.
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Re: Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?

Postby roykemp » Mon Dec 07, 2020 5:14 pm

Anne C wrote:Great read! :clap: I agree completely about using poles - I couldn't be without them these days and in fact have needed them for well over 10 years now. They take a lot of strain off your joints. It's painful enough going up and down mountains :) without added aches which could (hopefully) be relieved somewhat. They're pretty cheap nowadays too.


I might just pick up a cheap pair anyway, but I saw my chiropractor last week who found a little muscle in the back of my right knee that was not happy at all with being prodded and kneaded. More details to follow in the next report, but I'm hopeful that's problem solved.
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Re: Grow a mo', save a bro', climb a (Mun)'ro?

Postby dogplodder » Mon Dec 07, 2020 9:32 pm

A great read - keep them coming! 8)
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