Running 18:22:58  65.0 km (16:58 / km) +6000m 11:37 / km
Tranter Round - solo and unsupported.
After an awesome weekend in August with ME covering the 18 munros, 65km and 6,000m of the Tranter round over 2 days, I was left with a feeling of unfinished business. The challenge, of course, being to complete the round non stop in under 24 hours. Other plans and poor weather had so far limited possibilities, but finally, just as the days were starting to look too short, a weather window had appeared. So, on Wed afternoon the commitment was made and a few friends told of my plan, to prevent me from bottling it.
2:45 Fri morning and I stood by the sign at Glen Nevis YH all set to go. The best line out onto the hills involves a bit of messy stuff through the forest and in the dark I managed to miss a couple of trod ends, but at least this time avoided our jungle scramble and found the lovely constructed path up and out onto the open hill. There was no moon but it was a beautiful starry night and it felt amazing to be heading up onto the Mamores.
A couple of hours later and I was onto Stob Ban. My right contact lens was playing up, but I ignored it assuming it would soon settle down. The top of SB is a bit confusing, so I got map and compass out. The compass didn’t seem to make sense with the path, but I assumed it would soon swing round as I started to drop steeply off the top. By now my lens had really done a vanishing trick and much rubbing and eye poking ensued as I stumbled down unable to see the ground properly. It was some way down before something made me stop and check the compass again, only to discover that I was heading off completely the wrong side. So it was back to the top, locate the correct path and start stumbling down the other side. Eventually I decided I couldn’t carry on like this and was going to have to try and get my spare recycled lens ( having accidentally left my toilet bag at home) in in the dark. Luckily it behaved, I could see again and was back in the game. Some 20-25’ had been wasted but in the bigger scheme of things that really didn’t matter.
Dawn started to appear as I headed out along the Devils Ridge, and it was a stunning one too, with mist clinging to the more distant valleys and hills. By the top of Sgurr a Mhaim I was able to switch my headtorch off and minutes later a message pinged in from KH to tell me to do just that - it was great to know I had some friendly distant support for the day!
The Mamores are beautiful rugged ridges and mountains and the next tops ticked by in a joy of running, feeling good and soaking up the stunning views. The next point of interest was the top of Binnein Mor where M and I had descended by a hideous line. This time I was more successful, although I think the truth is that there is no easy line.
By Binnein Beag my legs were starting to feel the climb and Sgurr Eilde Mor was a real grind, just like last time. But at least this was the end of the Mamores and somewhere around the half way point overall. From there a long descent led to the crossing of the Water of Nevis before the start of the really long slog up the second Stob Ban. I stopped to refuel at the river and tried to convince myself that I had just got up at the start of Day 2, my legs were a bit tired but would soon get into it.
Sure enough it was a long climb up into the Grey Corries. The sun was well up now and I was drinking a lot but there were very limited options for picking up more liquid. Much of this section is a bit of a blur but I was briefly brought back into consciousness by a friendly greeting from a fellow orienteer who I confess I didn’t even recognise! On spying some water below Stob Choire Easain I decided to bypass this lesser top and traversed down through some grim boulders to find the watercourse and then regain the ridge line at the next col - a sound decision in the circumstances I think.
Soon the long climb up Aonach Beag was in front of me, but the focus of heading up Spinks ridge gave enough distraction, with a need to concentrate, that I was soon half way up and it was all less daunting. Aonach Mor is an easy tick and finally I could start to count down the remaining climbs.
But first I had the shitty path off AM to negotiate on tired legs and I’ll swear that it was even more shitty than 6 weeks previously. At one point a ‘solid’ piece of rock came away in my hand with both it and I going into a slide. Somehow I managed to regain control leaving a rumble of further rock fall to my side. It was an even slower cautious descent after that.
The ascent of Carn Mor Dearg was also long and slow and the traverse of the ridge towards the Ben a struggle with poor coordination. Finally, I was on the last climb to the summit of the Ben with glimpses of an awesome sunset over the Isles and managed to reach the top of Scotland with the last of the daylight, pretty much as I had hoped I could.
But it wasn’t over yet. The descent off the Ben is a long slow one in the dark on tired legs and it was almost an hour and a half later that I finally touched the sign at the YH again.
What a day! Epic, awesome and so so pleased to have achieved it! Mega thanks to J for his unfailing home support and long suffering. And to KH, ME, RB, SR and JS for being such awesome crazy friends, training partners and support network- without them I’d never have built the fitness or confidence to get anywhere near the start line!