MUNRO ADVENTURE 2015 – DAY 37 ( 6th JUNE ) – A KEEN BREEZE TODAY
Mount Keen – The Most Easterly Munro – 939 Meters – Munro 235 Gentle Hill
After Andy left I had a brew and a snooze for a hour before heading back to Ballater and the Balmoral bar again for tea as I was so impressed from the night before. Left there at 9 and headed to Glen Taner and parked up for the night in the walker’s car park. The forecast today was for 40 gusting 55 mph winds so was guessing it was going to be a battle at some point, up at 6 got ready ,bike off the rack and away at 6.40. You go down the tarred road for a bit before skirting round the estate grounds before getting onto the right of way road up Glen Taner. There was a stiff head on breeze when going through the trees and as expected a lot stronger when out into the open, crossed the river 3 times over bridges and left the bike at the last one . Off up the Mounth Road on a well-worn track I could see the clouds tearing over the summit ahead then the rain came on just what I needed , I was getting a bit of shelter before i turned onto the summit ridge but now it was increasing with height gain , the final 50 metres before the top I was getting blasted head on and struggled to keep on my feet to touch the trig point. The opposite effect now as I turned to descend I was getting thrown back down the hill at some speed but it soon became manageable again and was soon back at the bike in relative calm?
At least the rain had stopped and wasn’t that heavy anyway just fast passing showers. Going back the road I basically didn’t have to pedal more a case of brakes on to keep to Penny’s speed all the way back to the van. So glad I wasn’t any higher or on any plateau today. Job done section 7 complete, I think I deserve a rest day now after a hard 7 days on the trot covering 135 miles and almost 11000m ascent.
Today’s totals 18.61mls – 870m ascent – 3hrs 15 mins
110 Munros to date (amended)
Mount Keen has a few memories this is from my diary the date is 1977 –
Diary of a wild walk West to East Of Scotland 1977
The idea of a walk across Scotland from West to East in October/ November in 1977 with hindsight was crazy, with no support pretty serious. Jim Morning and me we had just completed a huge North to South Of Scotland Walk in 1976 and pushed the boat out in the way of hills done. We thought we were ready for a winter traverse and after speaking to a few people most said go in April in long daylight and reasonable conditions. I never for a moment thought we would plan it for November. This is usually a wild month with various problems. The daylight is very short and the weather can be very unsettled and on this trip it was wild nearly every day. This is the story of “A walk nearly a walk to die for.”
Day 22 November 1977 dAY 18 – Spittal Of Glen Muick – Mount Keen and Auchromie. It was a bit of a road walk to start then up onto the hill tracks and then over heather and peat hags in deep snow to the most Easterly Munro Mount Keen. This was the last day and we were still alive absolutely exhausted There was little joy just head down let’s get home .There were amazingly a troops there to meet us, they had been playing war games at RAF Kinloss. This was the Cold war era and the game/ war was over and they had come straight out to see us. Mick Trimby (RIP) ar great mate brought my lovely girlfriend June out and though she had worked like the troops for 5 days with little sleep it was great to see them. I was a very embarrassed on the top of Mount Keen with June being there (how daft is that) and it was strange to have company and then we walked down to Glen Mark. We just wanted to be on our own there was little chat poor June was not impressed. The weather was clod but clear and we were of the hill in the daylight and then a long 3 hour drive home. The walk was over and we were alive. What a trip what an experience for us all.
Our walk in was in December carrying all our gear and food!.
Total 47 Munros Climbed, 506 Kilometres and 33429mteres of Ascent most in wild weather!
It was a massive undertaking at the time with the lack of daylight and the weather we had nearly every day in wild weather. Navigation and Fitness were key elements and the area knowledge we had saved us in a few places. Maps were very basic not like today (2014) no GPS, we planned the route in advance but each day was dependent on the weather.
The gear was very basic, no Gortex but the polar fleeces were life savers. We were wet every day and had to keep moving to keep warm. We always carried a spare pair of gloves and basic kit to change into it was limited as we were carrying everything. We carried plastic bivy bags very basic!
Food was simple porridge and simple lightweight food, mashed potatoes and pasta, lots of soups and tea coffee etc, we were always hungry. Hill food was simple chocolate and sweets! We cooked on a primus it never let us down. I laid out the food in advance and the food caches were for the time great being a caterer by trade helped and still we were always hungry. I lost a stone on the trip and I was a skinny lad then.
Communications – we phoned whenever we got to a phone and were on our own a lot, weather forecasts were hard to get and it was always similar, snow, wind and cloud!
The road walking was hard work and we carried RAF Sandshoes basic but a great change from boots, everything was limited due to weight.
Bothies were used whenever and a great bonus the Mountain Bothies is a great asset we only met one person in a bothy on our travels. The fires were so important to try to dry the wet gear very night. We used the Scottish Youth Hostels twice at Affric and Ossian again we were the only people there!
The keepers and team contacts for Base Camps from Tom Rigg ,Mr MacRae in Skye, Kintail Cluannie Lodge, Mr Oswald at Culra ,the keeper at Gaick, the Keeper and his wife at Linn Of Dee and Mr Robertson at Lochnagar were all great to us. We had such hospitality meals and drams and I can never forget them and apologise for losing the names of everyone but my diary got soaked. We at times arrived very late very tired yet we always got a welcome. The hills were very quiet in 1977 and we only met our friends in the team on the hill imagine that today?. These people were what going on the mountains were all about and remain so vivid memories even today.
Jim and Terry my companions were exceptional never complained unlike me and were to become incredibly powerful mountaineers, we never fell out on the trip and we learned so much for the future. The planning was a great just on maps and when you look back with the technology today it was impressive. Our navigation improved as did our fitness and mountaineering skills. As the days went on we did I still I feel at one with the mountains over this period of 21 days and became as one! This was to be a great help when we were under great pressure. The great thing is we are still great friends.
The assistance from RAF Kinloss from Jim Green , Mick Trimby and Sid Green all sadly deceased who came out with ice axes, food and transported us home, I have many wonderful memories and
poor June who I was so embarrassed when you arrived on Mount Keen I am sorry. Our families who worried about us and I know my Dad and Mum were praying for us and we needed it. Ray Sefton and Don Shanks the Team Leader and Deputy at RAF Kinloss who worried if their careers were over as the weather came in. I never realised the level of responsibility for us until I became a Team Leader. Finally to John Hinde RIP – you really set the” cat among the pigeon’s with your Walk idea in the depths of November. But did we learn from it and many call –outs in the future were successful from the local area knowledge learned on that walk.