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13in24 Charity Challenge - 5 sisters, brothers & Glen Shiel
by njcuthbert » Sat Jun 09, 2012 3:04 pm
Munros included on this walk: Aonach Air Chrith, Aonach Meadhoin, Creag a'Mhaim, Creag nan Damh, Druim Shionnach, Maol chinn-dearg, Saileag, Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg, Sgurr an Doire Leathain, Sgurr an Lochain, Sgurr Fhuaran, Sgurr na Carnach, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe
Date walked: 25/05/2012
Time taken: 24 hours
Distance: 46 km
Ascent: 4060m3 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The challengers were made up of oil and gas professionals from Aberdeen, namely Julien Blanc, Graeme Clubb (Clubby), Neil Cuthbert (that’s me), Steve Fogg, Karen Husband, Alistair Laing, Richard O’Brien and Neil O’Riordan. The challenge was sponsored by Atkins (http://www.atkinsglobal.com) and Cognity (http://www.cognity.com) so thanks to them for pledging a bit of cash. We are currently sitting at just over £8,100 (£8900 if you include gift aid) for Make a Wish and Inspire. Any donation is much appreciated at...
We had been building up to this weekend for a while. We had all cleared our diaries in expectation. The problem was weather. We decided that we could use the 5 day forecast at the beginning of the week to determine whether we were going to get the clear conditions we were looking for. This was going to be a 24 hour challenge so there was going to be an element of it in the dark (well as dark as it gets at this time of year).
The weather forecast came in and it was unbelievable, almost too good to be true. Clear with not a cloud in the sky. It was going to be hot though but we couldn’t pass up this opportunity (hot was to be an understatement as you will discover later on). The decision was made we were going for it. This kicked off a scramble to get stuff ready, and also the begging to get Thursday afternoon and Friday off work. Thanks boss! We had held a meeting a few weeks before to discuss the logistics of the weekend and it wasn’t easy. We also discussed what we thought the best time to start the challenge would be and also the route direction, with a number of different starting points. This meeting threw up some disagreement about the start time, but looking back it was the right decision despite all of us not agreeing at the time. 4am start on our day of choice it was.
We left Aberdeen for Kintail at 1pm on Thursday in Clubby’s faithful Volkswagen van (Steve was going with our support team - Sue! – in his car). It was going to take us 4 hours to get there so we sat back, some snoozed. There was an air of excitement and apprehension that I had never felt before on any of our training walks. This was the real deal, how were we going to sleep that night!
We arrived at Kintail Lodge Hotel at 5pm, and it was like Spain. The sun was beating down, people were happily walking around in flip flops and attire fit for the costa del sol. We met Steve and Sue, they had booked a table for dinner at 6.30pm so we went to the campsite first (Morvich), pitched our tents and headed back to the bar for a cracking dinner. We needed no excuse to fuel up for the next day’s exploits. We were back to the campsite around 8.30pm and in bed by 9, alarms set for 3am. I couldn’t sleep for what felt like hours and the midges were feasting. Owls, cuckoos and goodness knows what else restricted us all to very little sleep. The wake up call at 3am was not a pleasant one. It’s OK if you are going on holiday but this was certainly not going to be a holiday by any stretch of the imagination.
First impressions of the morning was it was warm. And the midges were yet again making themselves ill with all the biting they were doing! Julien was up making porridge but I couldn’t face anything at that time. I needed an hour or so to settle in. We left the campsite at 3.30am ish and Graeme dropped us off at the start point which was only 5 minutes along the road from the campsite. He then went to Kintail House hotel to get Steve and Sue and then drive in convoy to the end point at the car park on A87 near Achnagart farm. Sue then drove them back and we were raring to go by about five past four.
Anyway enough of the preamble now to the walk... The watches were set and we were off. 4.06am. This was our biggest ascent of the whole challenge and it was first. Not sure if that was a good thing or not but at least it got it out of the way early. Half an hour in and we were all sweating buckets. Ironically the majority of our training walks had been in cold conditions and even at 4am in the morning this was probably warmer than all bar one of our training walks. Worse was to come.
We reached the saddle (NG970185) about an hour and a half in. time was flying. This was our first sight of the sun. It was beautiful. After a quick break and some breakfast, we set our course for the first munro of the day - Sgurr Fhuaran. The walk along the ridge threw up some spectacular views down glen shiel and the sun was casting a crisp silhouette of the 5 sisters on the other side of the glen. Brilliant. There were also temperature inversions everywhere you looked.
Still not too much time to hang around and take in the views we still hadn’t bagged our first munro. So another hour and a half after reaching the saddle we were at 1067m. And got a well deserved rest. Richard had been on a mountain leader course earlier in the year and had made up little food bags for two hour spells. He was already a bag behind by this point and this trend was to continue.
After a lengthy break, 20 minutes or so, we were off again. On to the next peak Sgurr na Carnach. The problem with the five sisters was there was a significant amount of climbing without any munros chalked off. The munro tops along the way were soul destroying. Although this was a 13 peak challenge we must have scaled around 19 throughout the whole 24 hours. Tough. At this point I lost all comprehension of time. Shortly after leaving the first peak we said we should’ve been taking group summit photos at each of the 13 peaks, I certainly wasn’t going back so we would have to start this at the next munro.
We did start this tradition at the second but the novelty quickly wore off I think we stopped this at peak 5! There was a heroic effort from Julien on the latter half of the this ridge when he carried Karen’s bag for around an hour! What a guy! A series of pictures below captures our views. Naturally it was getting hotter and hotter and we were slapping on sun tan lotion and constantly drinking to keep dehydration at bay. It was working for the main part. But we were running out of water fast and we needed more. Being on a ridge really restricted this. We eventually found a patch of melting snow which helped relieve some of our thirsts.
We chalked off the 6th and had a 5 minute break. We were aware time was getting on but we needed to get out of the sun as it was making us wilt. It must have been around 2pm at this point. On the top of the 6th munro there was a guy sending morse code to someone else on another mountain somewhere. Different, certainly never seen that before!
Our destination was now the cluanie inn for some shade and a refuel. We got there in staggered groups around 4pm. We were goosed. Tired. Sun burnt. Dehydrated. Hot. Sleep deprived. Was this starting to become stupid? The decision was made to stay there until after 5pm to give us a proper rest and time to take on fluids and plenty of food. The first part had taken us 12 hours and we didn’t really expect it to take that long. This would give us 11 hours to complete the second half of the walk along the glenshiel ridge in what would be cooler conditions. We didn’t want to make it dangerous. Some people will say this was an unsupported walk if we stopped at the Cluanie inn but there was no way we could’ve done this without a rest there, and its in such a great position, why not use it!? We would also be back the next morning for cooked breakfasts! Thanks cluanie inn!
We started again around 5.15pm. Karen had bid us farewell at this point. She was too tired to continue. The heat had a lot to do with this! We were down to 7. A short walk up the A87 east got us to the landrover track that leads to Cluanie lodge. Sadly the lodge was not our destination and it was the higher ground of Creag a Mhaim we were headed for. The gentle incline of the track was a good way to get back into it after around an hour and a half of downtime. For this peak you almost walk past it, what was beneficial at this point was the shadow it was casting creating cool pockets of air which were very gratefully received. We turned off the track just before a little bridge and began the assent. I have a summit picture (one of the last) and the time on the camera puts us at 947m at 19:45.
After I took this picture Al threw a wobbler. He had hit the wall and wanted to go back. We had come too far for Al to pull out now so we managed to convince him to stay with it. I think it was richard’s motivational speech that bullied him in to continue! The caffeine/energy sachet he had probably also made a difference. He also had a 2-3 hour walk back and we weren’t keen on him doing this alone. We continued.
As the evening went on the air cooled (which was a relief!) and the views opened up as the heat haze evaporated. The breeze also picked up. There were views to the south of Ben Nevis, glowing orange with the late evening sun, to the east of the cairngorms and to the west of the sawtooth like cullin ridge. This all served as a distraction to the pain we were all in. The descents were agony on the knees, and let’s not even comment on the ascents...
The last three peaks were in the dark. Graeme lead the way with his “car headlight” headtorch! There were several caffeine pouches consumed in this stage of the walk, and judging by the reaction they must’ve tasted disgusting. They worked though. However, we were so tired at that every time we sat down to have a rest and switched off the headtorches we were close to falling asleep. Not good. We managed to dodge climbing Sgurr Beag on the way to our last peak which was a great relief. There is a path that leads you around the south face, contouring all the way. Once we had climbed the last peak we had to find the way down. We were looking for the path that took us down the bealach Duibh Leac. It seemed like an enternity finding this. We were on undulating terrain and couldn’t really see the end in sight. A few of us had conceded at this point we may not make it back to the van before the 24 hours was out. But we had done 13 peaks in 24 hours so we had completed what we set out to do. So could we make it.
Time was ticking, exact timings are a bit of a blur but it must’ve been after 2am before we found the route down. This route down wasn’t plain sailing either. The road seemed miles away, but thankfully there was only the occasional car to point out where it was. We were also seeing things at this point. A number of us thought we saw head torches coming towards us. This materialised into nothing, but we were worried that someone had come looking for us! Once we found the path proper the end was in sight. It was going to be tight. very tight. 5 of the group had broken off into a pace that Clubby and I couldn’t keep up with. Clubby had lead practically the whole way which must’ve been difficult to say the least! We kept at our steady pace while the others raced for the bus. Not really sure what all the rush was about, we all made it. 23 hours 49 minutes for the first group, with Graeme and I around 5 minutes later. We couldn’t have predicted that at the start.
Well done everyone! We did it. Thanks to Sue for her support on this challenge. The tea and cake at the Cluanie in was brilliant! 13in24 - conquered...May 25th/26th 23 hours and 49 minutes, 46km, 4060 metres of ascent, 13 munros. Until next year’s challenge...
http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/13in24 - donations
http://www.facebook.com/13in24 - updates and information
by jonny616 » Sat Jun 09, 2012 4:16 pm
by monarchming » Sat Jun 09, 2012 4:25 pm
by gacameron » Sat Jun 09, 2012 4:57 pm
by gammy leg walker » Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:34 pm
by njcuthbert » Sun Jun 10, 2012 6:58 pm
by rocket-ron » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:29 pm
by andrewdoggett » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:07 pm
by njcuthbert » Wed Jul 04, 2012 9:14 pm
I see you did a similar challenge on the same weekend! Congratulations to you! Recently learnt there was an article in the press and journal around 2 weeks after the challenge saying the national trust had reported it as the hottest day since records began in that area! It was a scorcher!andrewdoggett wrote:Well done all - monster walk in hot conditions!!
by basscadet » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:28 pm
by mrssanta » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:35 pm
by njcuthbert » Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:05 pm