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Everest or bust

Date: 10 to 22 May 08
Submitted by: Keith Monaghan

Having had my Himalayan visa refused by the minister for home affairs (MFHA) and after deep meaningful discussion with Mr Secretary at the climbfest, about an attempt on Everest next year in flip-flops on bicycles with no tyres carrying 2 flats of beer, I embarked on a training fortnight and I entered this this years TGO Challenge which is a coast to coast crossing of the highlands of Scotland.

Starting at the sea at the Kintail Hotel, on the road to Skye I set off for Glen Affric via Ben Fhada, carrying every bit of mountaineering kit I had ever bought, followed then next day by a fine ridge of 6 mountains which I couldn’t see due to the 20 meter visibility in cloud.

Another day over Glen Morrison on parts of General Wades Military road , which disappears into the bog every 200 yards, brought me to Fort Augustus. A welcome beer or 2 or 3 etc. with a comfortable night in Morag’s lodge which is a hostel with its own bar. I posted 2kg of excess clothing and other non essentials home.

The next day was a hike over the Corrierack Pass to Garva bridge and then a gruelling day over the mountains on the Monadhliath Plateau. Here I met 3 fell runners all in their seventies who were hardly out of breath at all as they sailed past me as I struggled along. By this stage the heat had reduced my feet to rows of skin bubbles and in Kingussie I was glad of the arrival of the MFHA who when not writing down laws and handing out punishments for the rest of the lowly surfs at home moonlights as a district nurse.

A pleasant rest day was spent in every hostelry and gear shop in Aviemore and another 1.5 kgs of stuff posted home.

We sent off with £20.00 worth of Compeeds and hiked up towards Glen Feshie to attack the Cairngorms. At this point I must admit to a slight navigational error and we ended up in a parrallel glen resulting in an unnecessary river crossing and a forest we had not planned to visit. When back on track we arrived at the planned bothy only to find there were 30 or so 15 year old kids on a Duke of Ed trip so we had to made do with the tent. Temps drops dramatically with clear nights in the Cairngorms and every stitch of clothing was required inside our sleeping bags as the tent froze in -8. (Good Himalayan training Ant.) Another glorious day was spent traversing the Cairngorm plateau which still has hugh banks of snow before another cold camp at White bridge. A short day to Braemar and the delights of a bath in the Fyfe Arms hotel followed by a beer or 2 or 3 etc. We tramped about the next day crossing the Queens “little” estate near to Lochnagar before arriving in Ballater.

The next morning MFHA headed for Aberdeen airport with the lid of my rucksack my cooker and as much stuff as I could get rid off. Being released form this excess baggage I raced 30 miles over |Glen Tanner, Mount Keen, Tarfside to near Edzell in an attempt to watch the Champions league final but, totally knackered, |I has to make do with text message updates from home in my tent. The wrong team won anyway Pete. I was left with a half day finish the next day on roads to Montrose and a paddle in the sea North Sea. 2 weeks of bright sunshine in Scotland with not a midge in sight and never has to put on my waterproofs except when in my sleeping bag!!

Having carried my house, bed, wardrobe, cooker, larder, water and medicine cabinet on my back, without a Sherpa, for 195 miles with 25000 ft climbed I now consider myself fit enough for a trip to foreign lands. However MFHA has stated Gola is about as foreign as its going to get but I will still have the required flat of beer Mr Secretary.

Photo of Route