Philip Tranter Round
29th July 2011
I first learnt about the Tranter Round while looking for information on the Charlie Ramsay Round .Charlie also provided me with advice and he said that I must go the original way round which is anti clockwise and also stipulated that I should do the Sgurr a' Mhaim - Stob Ban crossing of the valley promising me Mars bars on route!
After I completed the Ramsay Round in 2008 I had a couple of trips to Scotland to recce / attempt the round. First in November 2008 with Mark Harvey when the weather was very windy and wet. We took lots of wet weather gear and a tent with the idea that if the weather was too bad we could use Meannach bothy overnight. We did the Mamores on the Saturday coming off Bennien Beag down to the bothy. It was a very welcome sight and we had a reasonable night! I awoke with daylight coming through the window and leapt up eager to be on our way over the Grey Corries. Looking out I was surprised to see a good covering of snow. We had breakfast and set off up Stob Ban. The sky looked ominous and by the time we had trudged through deep snow to 600m it had started snowing. After 15 minutes of white out in a blizzard we called it a day. We ran down Glen Nevis valley in brilliant sunshine with the hills looking on tantalisingly above. Pictures
November 2010 I suggested a recce to Steve. This time there was no doubting the full winter conditions. He said he smelt a rat when we set off at 2am on a recce (?) with lots of warm gear, crampons and ice axes. We lost a lot of time descending Stob Ban and put crampons on for the Devils Ridge to Sgurr a' Mhaim. I was wearing Katoola's which fitted very well however Steve was struggling with some Ebay purchases. It was becoming clear to me that we wouldn't be able to descend Bennein Mor and so we continued along the Mamores until An Gearanach when we dropped into Glen Nevis valley. Returning to Achintee Farm hostel at 6pm we had a welcome shower and went to the pub. Pictures
July 2011 - two weeks after completing the Ladies Lake District 24 hour Round my attentions returned to the Le Grand Raid des Pyrenees on the 26th August that I had entered to defend my title. I was looking for a challenge to "keep up the training" as I titled the email that I sent to Simon Rippon, Olly Stephenson, Simon Cox and Ian Charlesworth suggesting the Tranter Round. All seemed keen and Simon C had a friend Andrea Stimpson who also wanted to complete. I had the record in mind which stood at 15 hours and 57 minutes set in 2000 by Dawn Scott but Andrea reassured me that she had no intentions on it. After a frantic search for accommodation we found two hostels in Roy Bridge that could put us up for Thurs 27th,, Fri 28th and Sat 30th July.
The weather forecast was very good and so we planned our attempts for Friday. Ian, Simon C and Andrea were to set off at 5am from the Youth Hostel and then me, Olly and Simon R would start at 6am. I had made enquires regarding the tree felling in Glen Nevis and was assured that the paths were open. That was true - what wasn't made clear was that the fire breaks I use were completely decimated. We lost time, effort and body parts in the ensuing battle. On the first ascent I was too hot and dripping with sweat. I felt sick and tired and I couldn't believe Olly and Simon were chatting! Wanting to sort my stomach out I realised that maybe what was wrong was that rather than being full my stomach actually wanted more food. After eating a Tunnock bar I felt much better and got Twix and more chocolate down. There was a slight breeze on top and the views were absolutely amazing. I just resigned myself to a long tiring but possible day. Maybe going for the record had been a silly idea while getting round would be good training. We were slowly catching the others and Simon C could be heard whooping and cheering us on. On An Gearanach we met going in opposite directions and had a group photo.
The descent off Bennein Mor was tricky and took time. The water at the loch was very welcome and we caught the others having a picnic before the climb to Bennein Beag. I was feeling much better and had got a good routine with Olly going. I followed him up and he followed me down. Simon R decided to continue with the other group there and Olly and I continued to Sgurr Elide Mor. The two schedules I had were slightly confusing and I had opted for a midway point. Generally I thought we were doing ok; gaining on some and losing on others. I really wasn't looking forward to the valley crossing from the Mamores to the Grey Corries especially with it being so hot. At least there was plenty of water but we were still dehydrating. The climb to Sgurr Elide Mor was roasting but the descent off down the ridge was a joy. We discussed the best route to Stob Ban and decided on contouring high round the left of the lump (the way I partly knew). The river provided a welcome splash and plenty of water. I made up my Strawberry mousse for later - yum! My stomach was ok but I had eaten a lot of my food. Dawn had been self supported and solo. I wanted to be self supported at least so refused all food offers from Olly (he eventually admitted to trying to scupper my record attempt by feeding me his unwanted chewy jelly beans). I had lots of pizza left so force fed myself that on the ascent of Stob Ban. We tried to work the schedules out as the splits didn't make sense but whatever we ploughed on I thought I would now try and stick to the lesser of the two schedules for each split. Stob Coire Claurigh was a shock and seemed to go on forever. Then came the delightful ridge. Although we had miles to go the effort to get into the Grey Corries means that once there you owe it to yourself to have a good look about and enjoy them as they are a wonderful set of hills. I finished off my delicious mousse then all I had was 4 gels, 1 choc bar and 2 energy mixes to last me oh about 5 hours!
The climb onto the Aonachs was hot again but with only (?) 4 hills to go we knew the end was in sight. We were both feeling the lack of food now. Olly was flagging a bit and my navigation was faltering; I couldn't decide which was Aonach Beag and we contoured too far and had to double back. I was furious with myself as this had put us behind schedule (or so I thought). I stomped off to the summit and then ran off to Aonach Mor, leaving Olly trying to catch up. I didn't want us to split but while we passed momentarily on Aonach Mor he said that I should "go for it". I decided on the descent to the col that I wanted to and by the climb had already opened up quite a gap so continued on.
I was feeling good, the temperature had dropped, the Ben looked stunning and I knew it was possible. I wanted to make up time on the climbs to Carn Mor Dearg and the Ben as I didn't think I would know all the shortcuts off Ben Nevis to enable me to do it faster than the schedule - in less than an hour. So getting the last 2 gels down and finishing the energy drink I really pushed on. Making about 10 to 15 minutes up on each split was a wonderful feeling. I was careful across the arÍte knowing the consequences of a trip there. The path to the Ben was meandering and eventually I went direct. Running across I surprised a few tourists; puffing as I was. A quick touch of the cairn and I was off down the tourist path. Looking at my watch I knew it was on. I had 1hr 50 mins to get down. I descended as fast but as carefully as I could using the obvious shortcuts. Taking one too many I missed the stile to the Youth Hostel but realised in time, turned left on the tourist path then right to descend to the bridge. Over the bridge at a sprint to touch the Youth Hostel sign at 15 hours 10 mins !
Ian Charlesworth leapt out of a car and took photos of me. He had ran back through Glen Nevis and I was very pleased to see him !! I had to sit down as was very light headed and asked about food as I was starving!!
We sat for a while waiting for Olly who ran in at 15 hours and 58 minutes then decided to go for fish, chips and curry sauce! We then drove to the hostel, had showers and returned to the Youth Hostel to wait for the others. Simon R had already finished in 18hrs 30mins when we arrived. He had left Simon C and Andrea coming off the Ben as Andrea was suffering very badly with blisters. They arrived an hour or so later finishing in 21 hours. We were all very happy and very tired. We took lots of photos then went back to the hostel for food, showers and bed!!
Olly Stephenson's pictures
Tranter Schedules and Actuals spreadsheet