Winter 282: The Munros in Winter
Supported by Mountain Equipment, La Sportiva, Osprey rucksacks, Petzl headtorches & Pacerpoles
From December 2019 to March 2020, I climbed Scotland's 282 Munros in a single winter season.
The trip takes in around 2,000km of rough, hard mountain terrain with ever-changing snowpack, weather conditions, winds and blizzard. It pairs the demands of walking long distances with the chaos of winter weather, meaning that while a rigorous schedule has to be maintained, one must bow and flex to the will of the weather. It was one of the most engaging and satisfying things I've ever done, drawing together every strand of experience I'd gained from years in the mountains.
The winter of 2019-20 was far above the average in terms of storms. It was essentially one non-stop procession of Atlantic westerlies with the briefest of lulls between. There was never a moment for cruising in auto-pilot or complacency. With about 3/5ths of the summits completed, I was maintaining a pace toward the fastest winter completion. But the continual storms up to that point had me running low on tactical get-outs.
Thus the winter ended up split in two. The second half also brought some incredibly severe winter storms battering the North-west. With progress dampened I continued chipping at the coal face, all the way to the end. I was nearly caught short right at the last: the worldwide pandemic in the first part of 2020 caught up with me, and I came so close to not finishing at all.
However, I stood on Ben Lomond three months after starting out, incredibly glad to be done and unable to wrap my head around the scale of it. On Ben Lomond, something was complete that I'd been working toward relentlessly for years. It was good to be done.
Among many podcasts I did throughout 2020, I spoke at length about the Winter Munros and related subjects with Of Mountains and Minds podcast:
As the winter round progressed, my brother Steve edited together weekly update videos, all available here on Youtube.
The tension cranked to max and an emotional finish on Ben Lomond that I will never forget.
In the big hills of the North-west: crossing a river of snowmelt and backpacking through Monar and Mullardoch
Finally moving toward the home stretch, clearing up NW summits: Loch Cuaich, Affric, Knoydart. And changing a tyre!
Torridon and the Cuillin complete. Need I say more?!?!
Glen Shiel, one half of the Cuillin and some mega heavy snow conditions at Glen Carron.
The deepest point of the winter; diabolical weather in the Northern Highlands and an energy-low on Ben Klibreck - picking back up thereafter.
The first week of the second half of the winter. Hard conditions, first steps in the North-west Highlands
In some ways the best week of the round - hammering through the big Lochaber ranges before the weather completely broke!
Really full-on winter conditions around Drumochter and the Blair Atholl hills wrapped up the east - time to go west
Crossing the Cairngorms! Such a major mountain range crossed essentially without hitch - and a Rush tribute at the end.
Finishing the Southern Highlands, I went east to Glen's Clova and Shee in some very stormy conditions!
Making good progress through the Southern Highlands: Ben Lui, GLen Lochay, Ben Lawers and Glen Lyon.
The last days of December and begining of January were generally stormy and wet - with one stunning, crisp day on the Glen Coe summits.
Getting started on the Isle of Mull and early days in the Southern Highlands.