Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Bill Williamson CRR Leg 3 - 03 July

In 2009 having completed the Paddy Buckley and Bob Graham rounds in Wales and England respectively Bill gathered a team to help him complete the third of the three big rounds in one year. The weather refused to co-operate and the strong wind eventually brought the attempt to an end. Last weekend we headed north again, with Bill, for another attempt. The weather forecasts suggested the second half of the round might involve difficult conditions.

CRR BW 2010 July-001

Bill almost ready for the off

CRR BW 2010 July-002 Jean, Bill and Ian

CRR BW 2010 July-003

Over the bridge at midday to Ben Nevis and another 23 Munros

CRR BW 2010 July-100 13 hours later and Ian starts to organise the food and drink for Bill at Locheilt Lodge at the start of Leg 3

CRR BW 2010 July-101 Bill preparing for the third and final leg

Bob Wightman (Bob's blog) and I accompany Bill for the first half of the last leg and as we leave Locheilt Lodge the rain is still light and, at least at this level, the wind is little more than a gentle breeze. On the top of Sgurr Eilde Mor the wind was cold and strong.

 

CRR BW 2010 July-102

 Southwest to Binnein Mor with clouds shrouding the summit

Climbing into the clouds on Binnein Mor at five o’clock in the morning we had the first hints of how much the weather might deteriorate. The rain was a little heavier, the wind a little stronger and strengthening as it drove the rain into our faces. I don’t think it quite achieved gusts in excess of 70 mph but it easily achieved the 40-50 mph the forecast warned of and at one point we were in serious danger of being blown off the ridge – Bob had to hold Bill down while I clung on to the rocks below the ridge to wait for a slight easing that would allow us to climb out of the col after Na Gruagaichean. We left Bill shortly after this with his final support crew but in the end the weather won and for the second time the wind strength proved too much and the attempt had to be abandoned. The driving rain did little to help and it is a very long time since I have been, literally, soaked to the skin – despite modern waterproofs. My camera didn’t enjoy the experience either, despite protection that has always previously been adequate, it was flooded before we finished and the above photos are the last my beloved Canon G10 will ever take.

It is heartbreaking to see a very nearly successful completion - with all the effort, organisation and commitment that it takes – so tantalisingly close and yet feel it slipping away as conditions deteriorate, knowing that nothing can be done to compensate for gale force winds driving heavy rain into your face. It was a heroic effort to get as far round as Bill did in these conditions but even heroic efforts count for little in these hills.

Bob Wightman’s account of the same leg is here.

Karl Taylor’s account of the previous leg is here.

9 comments:

  1. Really awesome effort in the conditions, Ian, and commiserations to Bill on another worthy effort which would have been a certainty in better conditions.

    Rhiannon

    PS. Ah, so that's how the camera took it's last gasp..

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  2. Sorry to hear Bill wasn't successful and about the demise of your camera. Hope it isn't the end of the pics on your blog!

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  3. Fortunately it was an insured loss and the day after making the claim the replacement camera (Powershot G11) was delivered. (:

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  4. You were just envious of my G11 Ian! You'll have to get yourself some Exped dry bags.

    It was definitely a wild day to be on the tops though - hardly any inkling of it down in the glens.

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  5. Bob - didn't think anyone would realise! Have just ordered a couple of XXS dry bags to use for cameras - don't think I can drown another one for a good while.

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  6. Shame it had to end like that after all that time, effort and planning. Bill must have been bitterly disappointed and I feel for him. But there's always another day, hopefully a much better one weather-wise. The Mamores are superb hills in the right conditions.
    Look forward to your first pictures from the G11.
    Cheers!

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  7. sounds a little too 'exciting'! a supreme effort bill and team. just shows why so few have got round in time. maybe third time lucky......?

    ps-ian are you for hire ;)

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  8. kate - depends what you have in mind ;)

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  9. 21st August is a go for another attempt.. Caz Philips will be going tooo!!! what is it with these fell runners is there not enough to do in normal life!!
    Anyone fancy helping????

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