Gary Tompsett’s Ramsay Round

This is the classic Scottish 24-hr challenge – a round of the Mamores followed by Beinn na Lap, Chno Dearg, Stob Coire Sgriodain and the Stob Coires (Easains), returning back along the Grey Corries, Aonachs and culminating dramatically on Ben Nevis after 60 miles (28,000 foa). The usual start/finish is the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel. The round was first achieved by Charlie Ramsay on 8-9th July 1978. Not as popular as England’s Bob Graham Round, presumably because it’s harder…

The men’s record is 18 hrs 23 mins. by Adrian Belton on 2 August 1989, and the women’s record is 20 hrs 24 mins by Helene Diamantides on 15 July 1989 [Refs. HS, MM]. Approximately 22 people have been known (1998) to complete this Round in under 24 hours. On 22/23 July 2000 Jane Meeks became the second successful lady to complete in a time of 23 hours 59 mins 10 secs.

The Ramsay Round has been, for a number of years, the subject of quite a few winter attempts. Since 1978 it had never been successfully completed in any form in winter, until Nov 2002, when Glyn Jones of Dumfries did it in 53hrs 34mins. So, faced with such a dry winter, an approaching clock change, and a bout of confidence and fitness, I dashed up to give it a go.

At the end of March, I completed the Winter Ramsay Round, that is the Ramsay Round completed in British Winter Time. A full description is on the web at:

I completed solo, unsupported, in 32hrs 48mins. It was all pretty straightfoward. The highlights were:
Sunny first half of Friday
Chilly wind second half
Sleepy – very dark – bad visibility at night, to find the far eastern munro cairns
Clambered up some very steep convex snow fields in the pitch black, again with no visibility
Had friends check me safe at Fersit Dam at 2.25am, and took no shelter in their camper and neither took nor jettisoned any gear
Accidentally slept in the heather at 3.30am for 30 mins.
Chilly early morn with fresh snowfall
Had friend check me safe at Lairig Leacach bothy at 7.30am, but didn’t step inside or take any assistance
Windy cold am, with snow
Surprisingly avoided some dodgy snowfields and cornices near the Prow below Aonach Beag
Howling windy pm, with snow
Painful descent of Ben paved path to Youth Hostel
Hurrah. Finished. Went to friends in Fort Bill and watched extreme paddling videos till late.

I kept 22Ib pack with me all the time and had no food or water drops – carried everything.

The crucial piece of kit was Salomon XA-Pro shoes, with new Sealskinz socks. The shoes take Grivel G10 crampons. Didn’t use though, managed to stay safe with axe. Other good kit was KIMM jkt and powerstretch, Vango Arc 42 sac, Silva Type 4, Ortlieb mapcase, Polaris Pertex hat, Petzl Tikka LED, Yashica 35mm Compact, Casio G-Shock Altimeter Watch.

I was kept entertained by some webcast style coverage on aided by my phoning and texting on ridges. Lots of thanks to those checking on me, on ground (Rob Priestley, Andy Jackson and Brigette).

Stats are: 60 miles, and 28,000 feet ascent (and 28,000 feet descent), although I calculate more.
Gary Tompsett, GUARD

Leave a Reply

Adventure Racing news, gear reviews and race reports