It goes without saying that the Bloody German Munro Baggers (aka Frank and Cord) pay tribute to the man whose work of listing and categorizing the highest Scottish mountains created the background for our hill-walking adventures in Alba since the mid-1990s. More than seventy years after Sir Hugh’s passing away in Provence in France, we climbed our first Munros (Ben Alligin and The Saddle, respectively). Ninety-eight and a half years after his death we completed our Munro round in 2017.
Sir Hugh’s list was first an item of curiosity, then of interest, later it became a daunting task and then finishing it off turned into a mild obsession. From the short biographical texts and media available on the web it seems that Sir Hugh was a meticulous worker. Fulfilling the job of listing the Scottish mountains higher than 3000ft assigned to him by the SMC was certainly only doable because he had some compulsive character traits plus considerable will and stamina. Compiling such lists is not art, it is tough work. Ticking off the list – after having climbed the hills, that is (!) – involves tough work as well. But there is more to lists:
Deer, eagle, fox, dog, hare, spider, frog, toad, ptarmigan, grouse, weasel, pine marten, owl, otter, adder, fish, highland cattle, crow, raven, worm, sheep, owl, squirrel and yes, capercaillie. And oh: midge. Gneiss, sandstone, granite, quartz, hornblende, gabbro, dolerite, rhyolite, feldspar, schist, shale and limestone. Burn, firth, river, reservoir, lochan, loch and allt. Ben, Beinn, Sgur, Sgurr, Sgor, Sgorr, Pap, Meall, Carn, Mullach, Spidean, Tom, Creag or Aonach.
Dreich days, foggy days, snowy days, sunny days. Frostbite, soaked skin, blisters and sunburn. OS maps, the compass dangling from our necks, GPS helping in white out conditions and letting us down after a few hours of steady rain. Gentle breezes, light winds, blustering gusts, raging storms. A Brocken spectre, halo rainbows, cloud inversion.
Evenings spent in holiday cottages, inns, hotels, b&bs, pubs, tents and at least one bothy. Post-hike Coca Colas bought in petrol stations or village shops quenching thirst and answering to the desperate call for sugar, sugar, sugar in your blood. A hot shower, a log fire, a mug of hot tea and chocolate cookies after a long and wet day in the hills: Pure bliss.
None of this is dependent on the existence of Sir Hugh’s List. But most of the experiences hinted at by the lists of words above were gained exactly because Sir Hugh’s List exists. So obsessively ticking off hills can help in widening your view of the world!
Unfortunately, we won’t be in Alba on 19 March to climb a Munro. But late May 2019 will see us on Aonach Eagach and we’ll make sure we stop a minute on Meall Dearg to commemorate the first completion of Munro’s List in 1901. And we’ll have pint in Munro’s memory at the Clachaig Inn. Slainte!