Like all good ideas, my first thoughts of doing all the Scottish 4000ft peaks in a 1er happened in a pub after several glasses of “water”. It was the pub in Glenmore Lodge and chat was about the old duathlon that followed the route. Fast forward a number of years and this summer presented an opportunity to give it a go. New westie Will was keen to come along with me and a top support crew of Katie and Outi was assembled. After some chat with Manny and others a start time of 4 am on Sunday the 15th of July was decided.
Getting up at 3 am to start running is always a tough one. But I was excited and found it easy enough to nosh into some breakfast and get my finial bits of gear packed. At 4 am we were off, climbing the Ben at a steady pace. Memories came flooding back of doing something similar for Cam’s Ramsey round a few years back. We trundled up the tourist path, taking short cuts where we could. But, just as we reached the moonscape of the summit it started pissing it down. Unfortunately the rain made the CMD arete extremely slippery and treacherous and this slowed us down quite a bit. All we could do was carry on and hope we made up the time later. However, the clouds were down and visibility was near zero so we missed the path up to the Aonach Mor plateau and added climb to our route. It seemed as if the weather was conspiring against us. The decent down to the gondola station was fun though and we were soon at the car, having lost ~35 minutes on Leg 1.
It was properly pissing it down and this stage and neither of us were keen to get on the bikes. Outi had other ideas and didn’t give us a choice on the matter. Manny had warned me to take it easy on the bike, but with both Will and I being ex bike racers this soon went out the window. We were flying along at about 35 kph (even up hill). Switching off the front every 2 minutes or so. It was miserable though, we were both soaked and getting cold. Then disaster struck, I hit a bit of metal that had falling from a car and ripped a hole in my tire. To make matters worse, both myself and Will had brought spare tubes that had holes in them! We tried ring Katie but had no signal. So we were left standing in the rain cursing our stupidity. Having no other option we Macgyver’d it. We used a gel wrapper to repair the hole in my tire and tied a not in the tube. We were then able to inflate my tire to about 20 psi and carry on down the road (slowly). After 3hr25 we made it to Glen Feshie. We were a bit gutted though, as we would probably been less than 2hr40 and back on schedule if we hadn’t had the puncture.
It was still raining as we set off on our run across the cairngorms about an hour behind schedule. We made good progress up to the saddle of Carn Ban Mor, but we were soon in the clouds and struggling with navigation. We lost a lot of time crossing the plateau and were well behind time when we reached Cairn Toul. However, we did meet a friendly reindeer along the way. Well he was friendly until he realised that we weren’t going to give him food. Onto Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Braeriach we were losing time due to minor nav errors. To add to this both of us were getting colder and wetter. So disappointingly at the summit of Braeriach we decided to make a beeline for the Cairngorm ski station. The weather just wasn’t with us on the day and I hope to come back and try again. In the end our route took us 14hr45 and we probably would have added 2 more hours to get the last two 4000ers so the right decision was made. Pizza in Aviemore has never tasted sweeter.