A record breaking human power relay over every Scottish mountain over 1KM high!
The ARCHIE Foundation's Mountain Challenge
During the day on Wednesday we got our instructions to be in Glencoe at 8am to tackle the Archies in the Ballachulish horseshoe. So after perusing the map and planning the route, I went to bed to be ready for a very early collection by Simon. However, a challenge such as this required a certain fluidity of planning based on ongoing progress, and so while asleep an email arrived saying that the submit of Ben Nevis had been abandoned for the night, and so a reattempt plus route adjustment would be necessary, so we weren’t needed quite so early. After stealing a welcome extra hour in bed having read the email on waking, we set off.
From here, we had one more Archie to bag before descending to hand over Rabbie (the tracker); Stob Coire Sgreamhach. Despite it being obvious what way to go (it was directly in front of us!), we did another quick map check before heading off – the prospect of being watched by people online if the tracker headed off in the wrong direction was too much to contemplate!
Having watched the Archie’s being summited at an impressive rate over the first week despite the weather, I was very keen for my chance to get involved. That chance came on Thursday of week 2 alongside Simon Crawley, who had been tempted back by the significant change in the weather to what we all imagine a June day in the hills should look like!
When we reached our new meeting point at Glen Nevis everyone was in great spirits recounting the tales of the previous days events (all fantastic efforts), and following the Archie tracker online which was somewhere in the mountains around us. Shortly after arrival, it was suggested that with the extra climbs being required, and with the ‘freshness’ of Simon and my legs, that it would be better for us to head out later in the day to climb Bidean nam Bian and the surrounding Archies. We agreed, and set about reconsulting our map for new route planning (after Simon had made an apologetic call to his wife that her evening plans would have to be cancelled as he wouldn’t now be back to look after the children!)
The rest of the morning and afternoon was spent engrossed in stories of the trip to-date while sitting in the sun surrounded by the fantastic scenario that the area allows – a great day, irrespective of our upcoming climb!
From Stob Coire nan Lochan we then headed for the ridge connecting us to our second Archie; Bidean nam Bian. Thankfully, this intimidating looking ridge was easier on close inspection, with only very sparse sprinklings of snow interrupting our rocky terrain. Bidean is the highest Archie in Argyll at 1150m, and Archie number 23. The submit allowed us to have a full panoramic view from Loch Etive in the South East to Ben Nevis in the North East – fantastic!
Sunset was now starting to set in – Simon took this as his cue to attack again to try and ensure he got back to the car in daylight! After submitting Sgreamhach we set off to descend and get to the rendezvous ASAP where Russell and Mike would be awaiting our arrival. Eventually we found a reasonable route off the ridge (lots of snow remained on this side which we were trying to avoid if possible), and then jogged down before spotting the welcome silhouettes in the distance.
After a quick chat, we watched Mike, Russell and Rabbie head off into the night to continue the expedition, and then walked back to the parked car, arriving at 11:30pm. We had had a fantastic day, and were very sad to be leaving the Challenge and go back to work the next day, as due to the fantastic progress that was being made we knew that the challenge was going to be finished before our next free day the following week. The journey home was very quick – or at least it was for me, as sleeping has that affect on your time perception… thanks Simon!
So this is how we found ourselves in a Pass of Glencoe carpark, about to head into the hills at 8:30pm. The sky was still blue, the sun was shining, and we knew we were in for some spectacular evening climbing and views.
Simon evidently felt he wanted to see these views as quickly as possible, as he set off like a greyhound released from its traps. After initially keeping pace, I could feel myself going ‘into the red’ which wasn’t a situation I wanted to be in with lots of significant climbing to do! Thankfully he reined it in slightly and we progressed up the valley before turning to start the climb of our first Archie of the night; Stob Coire nan Lochan. As we scrambled our way to the submit, the views that we were afforded by the clear sky and still shining sun were quite incredible – made better by the fact that were it not for the Archie Challenge there is no way on a Thursday evening we would be up there to experience it.