Why is munro planning important?
At the beginning of each year I find it useful to think about what I would like to achieve in terms of my Munro count and start planning likely mountain targets. Its great to have set goals to help you focus on where you want to get to and keep you motivated during the year. During set backs, such as lack of fitness, injury or even weather, the goals you set will give something to continue driving you forward. I’ve focused here on my experience of munro planning but you could apply this to any mountain ranges that interest you.
Where to start
Before committing to any tackling any particular munro summits its important to be realistic and think about a few key factors;
- Fitness – if you have low fitness or are just starting out don’t pick an unachievable route involving a long hike like the Fisherfield
- Experience – not all munro’s are the same and even different routes to the same peak can vary greatly in technical difficulty. Access your current experience level and if you think you need to improve consider a skills course or led hike with a mountain leader
- Distance – no not how far you have to climb in the mountains but how long the distance is to travel to your starting point. If you intend on eventually completing all of the Scottish mountain summits don’t only concentrate on a single area near to home. You’ll quickly tick them all off the list and leave yourself with no quick options over a 3 hour drive
Four legged companions
Its nice to enjoy the mountains and an outdoors adventure with company. If you have a dog it can be a great way of building a close bond with your pet and provide them experience to develop. Other than making sure they are in the right physical condition to come along with you, its important to consider dog friendly routes. My dog Shadow has had fun climbing in the Scottish mountains around Drumochter. I would highly recommend these types of munro route, as the grassy slopes are kind on the paws and the ascent is less significant to risk injury.
Hike a bike
Combing hiking and mountain biking may sound too adventurous for some but it can add a real advantage to a munro round. Last year I had a fantastic time using my Decathlon Rockrider on the approach to Mount Keen and up in the highlands of Glenshee. Its an option worth considering for routes with a long approach hike in, flat terrain or large plateaus. Using the bike can also open up more interesting variations from standard routes, such as the trip I took in the Fisherfields above. Give it consideration for your planning this year and try it out.
Multi munro days
Taking on a large number of summits in one go is a good way of boosting your munro bagging total but isn’t for everyone. Although its important to not forget to enjoy the experience of being outdoors in the mountains and get too caught up in the numbers, with the cost of travel its worth trying to be efficient. Try planning a couple of longer weekends during the year to give yourself a taste of the achievement felt in a multi summit day. Camping, bothying or even a bivvy bag, will give you the flexibility of having a rest in between the summits.
There are a number of munro peaks that sit isolated and are hard to include in multi summit days. Don’t make the mistake of leaving all of these till the end of your list or you will be left with lots of motivation sapping long drives. Ensure a healthy balance of solo peaks in your planning for the year and consider incorporating them into perhaps a summer holiday or easter break. There are many munro summits up in the far north of Scotland worth paying a visit. I went on a road trip around the NC500 route and stopped off on the way to take in summits, such as Ben Hope and Ben Kilbreck. The scenery was fantastic and there was plenty to see beyond mountains.
Winter in the Scottish highlands is a unique time of year. There is a huge increase in the planning, skills and fitness needed to be successful here due to changeable weather conditions. I repeat my earlier point about skilling up but if you do venture out perhaps select a mountain that is a shorter hike and less ascent. Less day light time in winter is a real problem so picking a shorter route for your day outdoors will provide a better chance of enjoying the views and staying safe. Recently I enjoyed climbing Meall nan Tarmachan near the Lawers range beside Loch Tay and would recommend it if your planning a winter day out.
During the year there a few highlights I would like to achieve. To date I’ve came up with the following;
- Knoydart – Last year I had to abandon my plans to take on the three remote summits in Knoydart due to bad weather. I intend on revisiting my planning this year for this hike a bike and finally try out my Alpkit bivvy bag
- Torridon – After updating my munro map over the Christmas break I quickly noticed a few areas I haven’t visited yet in Scotland. One area that stood out was Torridon and looking into the peaks in the area it appears stunning
- Half way mark – Sitting just shy of 100 munro summits I would like to reach 50% overall completion by the end of the year. I don’t want to focus too much on numbers but think this would be a fantastic achievement having only started my munro journey a few years ago
How is your planning and goal setting going for this year? I would love to hear about the mountains you intend on climbing during the year or any particular routes you would recommend. During my planning I’ve found the book from the Scottish Mountaineering Club really useful to refer to for in-depth knowledge on munro routes. If you would like to join me as I continue to climb the Scottish munro’s please be sure to subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media.
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