A record breaking human power relay over every Scottish mountain over 1KM high!
The ARCHIE Foundation's Mountain Challenge
The last sumit, Aonach Air Chrith, the trickiest with the fragile ridge, and I was slightly more confident in the knowledge that Mathew works with the mountain rescue team in Tayside! After the photo at the top, we raced back, took the zig zag stalkers path down the south of the ridge and sped to meet David Henderson, and pass Rabbie on for his trip into Knoydart. Soaked, exhausted, but delighted to have been able to contribute. And it was only 10am! Fiona, Mathews wife, provided brilliant baking, as well as a warm car back to the start point. A real life saver, hopefully the challenge will also save lives in the long term!
Stats 11.8 miles (9.2 to the handover) 1.7km elevation gain, time – 3hrs 34mins
(3hrs 7 mins to handover).
After the “shocking” early rise, we met Russell, took Rabbie and wished Russell well as he droveback to Dundee to go to work! Mathew Bull and I found this path and set off. Unfortunately the path lasted about 300m before it disappeared into a new deer fence. Over the fence there was nothing to follow, and all we could do was go straight up the side of the ridge. It was slow, not the run we had planned. We were under a bit of time pressure, the weather was due to get really bad and we did not want too further delay the rabbit on it’s journey. The first two miles took an hour, gaining 780m. Once on the ridge, the view was breath-taking – high cloud allowed us to see all the peaks, Archies all around. We managed to pick up some pace, and picked off our first two peaks, Sgurr an Lochain and Sgurr an Doire Leathain, in dry and bright conditions. Compulsory photos at the top of each, proving our small part of the big jigsaw. The weather then turned and the wind and sleet picked up.
Thursday 4th June
The day started badly, and did not get much better. Setting off from Dundee at lunch, I got as far as Perth when I realised I had left my wallet at home. Second attempt fared better, and I got to base camp (the campervan) late afternoon. Not knowing to expect, being greeted by Nick Leslie offering a bowl of Pasta (a recurring theme during my brief participation), I immediately felt at ease. Immediate instructions were to prepare to do the short evening cycle transfer from one valley to the next, receiving from Paul Fettes and Ben, and passing on to Russell and Giles, who had a late evening run up ………………..
Nick was keen to drive Paul F’s Aunties Campervan to meet Ben and Paul, transporting my bike on the back. I assumed it was because he was an expert in driving it. As we entered the estate where we were to meet, Paul F came flying down the track on his bike. Great! Nick, busy discussing the challenges of reversing the camperan, was obviously delighted, selected reverse and “CRUNCH!”. Uh Oh. Paul’s face told it all. Shock and rage rolled into one. While worried about the van, my bike that was going to transport Rabbie was directly in the impact zone, so I walked round the van with trepidation. The bike was fine. The van, well let’s just say there were some structural changes to the rear bumper! I was glad to be riding back, and not in the van with those two. Wait a minute, two – Nick and Paul! Where was Ben? Ben duly appeared – a significant flat tyre had meant Paul had left him, and he arrived in time to keep the peace.
The ride to the drop off was not long. It was just after 9pm, roads quiet, smooth rolling tarmac, 13.5 miles, height gain 45m, taking 45:07. It was still and moody, but a cracking wee ride along the side of Loch Duich. Russell and Giles looked keen at the handover – I was envious of the challenge they had ahead.
Friday 5th June
Zzzzzzz, zzzzzzzzz………knock knock - Russell’s face at my car window, what time is it? 0340…… ugh. Russell had wanted to check I was up before heading off with Rabbie, thanks! The plan was to meet Rabbie at the chosen entry to the South Shiel ridge at 0430. I had hoped for another 20 minutes sleep.
This had been decided at the team meeting the night before. This was a thing of marvel – 6 folk, all ”soloists” by day in their chosen professions, working as a well-oiled machine with a shared goal. Mathew Bell and I were grouped together as the “fresh meat” for this leg. A long run with 3 Archies on the ridge. Gary Mooney had suggested missing out the start of the ridge as it had no Archies, and using a path that went up from the road about a third of the way along the road. Sounded good, it should make it shorter.