The Mamores – Memories . As the days go longer many will be attempting the big days on the hills they range from a few Munros to the extreme like Ramseys Round/Tranters Round and many others. For others there are so many different ways to get some big hills and Munros done.
Steve Fallon http://www.stevenfallon.co.uk
“The Mamores is one of the finest mountain ranges in Scotland, with 10 munros now on the route (in my day there were 11 Munros with the top Sgurr an Iubhair demoted in 1997) compacted into 34km and 3400 metres of height. It is perfectly possible for hill runners and most fit hillwalkers to bag all the Mamores peaks in one day. Some people will say that doing this will not do the range justice – pah to that “ It was a regular “right of passage for the RAF Team member’s “who had completed their trial to do one of these classic day like the South Clunnie including Sgurr Na Sgine and the Saddle, the Fannich 9, the Fisherfield 5 or 6. The Classic was as always the Skye ridge that usually came later. We rarely travelled light with boots, radios etc as we were training for the team. In later years I was to climb these great hills in a day on at least 20 occasions and go on to others like Tranters Round. My Dog Teallach loved the Mamores this was his heaven he knew every top every path and always ensured when we dropped of to get the outlying summits of Sgurr a’Mhaim, An Gearanach and Sgurr Eilde Mor we would leave our bags and he always made sure we found them. My times were from about 8 hours to 16 depending on the calibre of the troop and the weather. I did the traverse in winter a huge 18 hour day.
Yes the Mamores are a classic, time to go back and enjoy them but there is something about going well light and fast on these great hills with good company usually my dog Teallach with the wild views of the Ben and Glencoe, memories.
Mullach nan Coirean (939m, Munro 234)
Stob Ban (999m, Munro 138)
Sgurr an Iubhair (1001m, ex-Munro)
Sgurr a’Mhaim (1099m, Munro 51)
Am Bodach (1032m, Munro 99)
Stob Coire a’Chairn (981m, Munro 169)
An Gearanach (982m, Munro 166)
Na Grugaichean (1056m, Munro 74)
Binnein Mor (1130m, Munro 28)
Sgurr Eilde Mor (1010m, Munro 120)
Binnein Beag (943m, Munro 230)
Day 14 May 22 1976
A well-deserved day off at Fort William what a relief a shower in the swimming pool and some great food in Fort William, sort the kit and dry the boots and a trip to the launderette to wash the smelly gear, bliss. We had lots of space in the ATC Hut to sort the gear out air the sleeping bags and patch our kit. I went to the doctor he said my cartilage was knackered, probably needs an operation and I should stop or have problems for life, I never told Jim Or Paul and kept my silence. I would see how it went I had a week to go on my first walk across Scotland form North To South from Ben Hope to Ben Lomomd unsupported and we were going well. I had another 8 days to go I am sure I would manage but next day was the Mamores then 11 Munros in a day.
It was great to phone home and update the family, no mobile phones in these days. The RAF Kinloss MR team would arrive that night for the weekend and we planned the biggest day of the trip the entire Mamore Ridge and its 10 Munros next. My knee was pretty sore and swollen but the day off was badly needed for me. Jim and Paul were going well. We had an early night, the bothy was nosiy with the troops enjoying Fort William and the Friday night dance, we had a big day planned and an early start. The weather forecast was good so we would have a good day for the adventure.
Day 15 May 23 1976 The Mamores 10 Munros a Big Day with one leg!!
Jim and Paul were going very well and as I worried about my knee I asked two of the Kinloss team to accompany me and let Jim and Paul go as fast as they wanted without having to wait for me. John Cosgrove and Dave Wood said they would come it was a big day planned the Eleven now Ten Munros of the Mamores to Kinlochleven and another ATC Hut for the night. I had completed the Mamores on several occasions so knew despite my knee I could do it but would take it easy on the descents. It is a classic Scottish ridge with so many summits radiating off the main ridge. In a good day with the right weather and visibility you can move well on these hills. It is also great to leave the hill bags as you sneak out and climb some of the outlying Munros on the ridge. A few have been caught out by weather and had an adventure finding the rucksack when the mist comes in but not today. The day begins with a walk from Fort William along the West Highland Way to the first of the 11 Munros Mullach nan Coirean 939 metres from the summit the views of the back of Ben Nevis are breath-taking. Jim and Paul were already well ahead and moving fast I was taking it easy and protecting the knee but what an airy walk to enjoy. The next Munro is the shapely Stob Ban(999 and then out on the Devils Ridge to Sgurr a Mhain (1099 m)in winter these 3 hills are a wonderful knife edge but not today. We met Jim and Paul heading back to the bags after Devils Ridge. They were already 1 Munro ahead but this was no race today. The big wild Corries and the views of Ben Nevis Glencoe and the West Coast are superb and today were exceptional. There was little snow about it was a summer traverse but the new company was great John and Dave adding to the day and poor John was not a Munro bagger and was missing out on a perfect days climbing. The next Munro Am Bodach(1032 m) all great hills the knee was sore but manageable and I was a bit behind the boys but coping, occasionally we could see Jim and Paul moving well ahead but by Stob Coire a’ Chairn(981 m) I was in the grove and Dave was struggling .
I enjoyed the next bit of the ridge An Gearanach 982 metres where two years later we were caught in the big blizzards and on a ridge double corniced and in a blizzard it was a real epic! We were avalanched in the Glen as the whole ridge shook its snow off and we were lucky to miss the biggest avalanche I was ever to see for about 20 years. The next part of the ridge is where the tiredness kicks in Na Gruagaichean (1056 m) and Binnein Mor(1130 m) but the fitness and stamina was there and I was moving well Dave was struggling by Binnein Beag (943 m) and we enjoyed a wee adventure on a ridge back onto the main ridge, the knee was holding up and it was enjoyable despite the pain. I knew all, the shortcuts that were to make life easier and the leg held up, the odd jar and no poles in these days.
I have said before after 14 days on the hill I was truelly at one with the mountains. I never wondered where to go I felt as part of the hill after being out so long in them a unique feeling. The best lines up and down were so natural to me by now. It is an incredible feeling and one I was to experience on a few big expeditions in the future.
The final Munro was Sgurr Eilde Mor (1010 m) and by now poor Dave was in a bad way he really struggled on the last Munro and it was a fair wander back into Kinlochleven to the ATC hut but we managed it stopping regularly for Dave and that helped my knee. Jim and Paul had blasted round the 11 Munros in 8 hours we took 12 hours but what a great day in marvellous walking weather. John and Dave got a lift back at Kinlochleven and we were back on our own again with all our food for the final few days. The weather was going to change dramatically tomorrow and we had planned the Aonach Eagach . It was sort out the gear wash and have an early night. The Mamores is one of the best days in Scotland I was to climb in over 20 times in its entirety in one day usually with new young team member’s testing their stamina and fitness at the end of a 3 weekend trial for Mountain rescue. I also did a winter traverse that tested me to the full. It is a ridge of great beauty and the hills all different make this a high ridge was to savour however you climb these big Munros.
Every Corrie holds a secret as does every hill and over the years I was involved in many Mountain Rescue call –outs in this wild area, some after a day like this that taxed the stamina.
Note from my diary ” I love the Mamores!”
Distance 20 miles Munros 11 Now 10?
Height 12500 feet of ascent a big day A high level traverse par excellence the Mamores.
The rest of the walk was completed.
A good pal Graham Morrision who was doing the Munros in one continuous round with his dog Penny, on his day trip did Tranter Round and next day ran in an Elgin fun race.