Marathon Munros challenge begins in Argyll

Kevin Woods battles gales on Sgorr nam Fiannaidh, Glen Coe.

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A Scottish climber has set out from Argyll on a three-month expedition which, if successful, would see him climb all of Scotland’s 282 Munros in winter during one continuous trip.

Most hillwalkers regard topping all of the 3,000ft peaks as the challenge of lifetime, but Kevin Woods hopes to do so in one season.

The feat has only ever been achieved twice before, by two experienced climbers who died in separate mountain accidents last year.

In his first 16 days, he had topped all the Munros in Argyll, plus Glen Coe and some further afield, for a tally of 49 summits.

Until last year living at Glenachulish, Ballachulish, and now based in East Dunbartonshire, Kevin started his epic trek up Ben More on Mull on December 21, the day of the solstice which marks the official start of winter.

Returning to Oban, the next day he headed for the narrow ridge of Ben Cruachan and the pair to the north of Glen Strae, Beinn a’Chochuill and Beinn Eunaich.

On December 23, he had a monster day out on the five Munros at Bridge of Orchy, covering 33km and 2,450 metres of ascent. He spent Christmas Day around the Crianlarich hills, then returned to Inveraray for an icy Boxing Day on Beinn Bhuidhe above Glen Fyne.

After notching up 15 Munros he took a day off to repair his van, then resumed his campaign, spending Hogmanay on the six hills of south Glen Coe. New Year’s Day saw no let up, as he started at Beinn Sgulaird in Appin and headed north over neighbouring peaks.

Kevin uses a converted van as accommodation and for transport between mountain areas, when he is not linking the hills up on foot. Friends and relatives are supporting him with deliveries of food and other supplies.

He usually climbs alone, as few can keep up with him. But he plans to take a companion on the notorious Cuillin ridge on Skye later in the expedition.

The early days of 2020 were spent in Glen Coe, the Black Mount, Glen Etive and Glen Falloch.

On January 6, he waited out the worst of the day’s gales and rain in Glen Croe below the Rest and be Thankful, then set off at 1.30pm for Ben Narnain, Ben Ime and Ben Vane which he knocked off in three hours. He set off up his fourth peak, Ben Vorlich, in the dark and emerged at Inveruglas in moonlight before 9pm.

That day completed the 23 Munros of Argyll. Sticklers for detail will note that the summit cairn of the giant peak of Ben Starav above Loch Etive, unlike its neighbours in the glen, strictly speaking lies a few hundred metres outside Argyll.

His future plans are now to work steadily northwards, flexibly moving east and west depending on the weather.

Further reports of Kevin’s progress will come in the following weeks. He can be followed on Facebook as ‘Kevin Woods Winter 282’.