Posts Tagged ‘LAMM’

Midgetastic LAMM

Friday, June 15th, 2012

It was that time of the year again – time to kick start the mountain marathon season with the LAMM (Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon) which is always held in Scotland. Last year was a Northern year – so this year we knew it wouldn't be quite so far. Simon & I were already holidaying in Scotland – so even less of a drive for us. Fortunately there was a mobile signal in the camp site at Morvich so we were able to find out the location of the event centre (always only released on the Thursday before the event) nr Ben Cruachan.

It was lovely and breezy when we arrived at the camp site in the afternoon. Unfortunately this did not last long and by evening it was getting rather midgy. The midges were even more irritating in the morning. I gave up trying to scoop the midges out of my tea – it only seemed to make more space for others to land! I ate my malties walking up and down frantically and having the occasional respite with the midge net lowered.

We had an 07:30 assembly time – so left the camp site at 07:20. At 07:45 we were on the coach and driven off to the mystery location of the start. This turned into a much longer trip than ever intended – the coach driver took a few wrong turns and took us to Victoria Bridge via Glen Coe. Hence we arrived at the start at 09:10 with at least one later bus arriving before us.

We were on the score course – planning our own route and had a number of alterations throughout the day. We didn't feel that we were choosing the best line and doubted anyone else would have chosen the same order of controls. As we headed back towards the finish time was running out fast – we were forced to run all the way from the last control to the finish, passing Rob and Pete B along the track to the finish. They thought we must be hours late given our earlier start time (unaware of our mystery coach tour) – however we made it back with 24 seconds to spare (out of 7 hours). The weather was excellent all day, with just a couple of passing showers, in stark contrast to the forecast rain and low cloud!

Rob & Pete had their own agenda for the weekend. Both had injury problems and decided to take it easy. Rob was in Munro-bagging mode and used the opportunity to visit summits which had no controls on them! They scored other points along the route and didn't do at all badly given they were not really trying.

The overnight camp site was in a lovely spot but was midge hell once the wind dropped. Most people were driven inside tents rather early due to the swarm of midges. Annie you would have loved to have been there! Things were not any better in the morning – I didn't remove my windproof and midge net until we had finished marking up the maps and were off on the move.

The cloud was rather lower today and so we decided to stick to controls that should be easier to find. Fortunately we did not get too wet until the last hour or so when the rain started and soon became rather heavy. We managed to finish with a whole 2 and a bit minutes to spare this time. Meanwhile Rob and Pete had been off bagging a couple more unnecessary Munros and sauntered in with 22 mins to spare.

Overall we finished 14/81. We were rather amazed as we felt we had chosen poor controls and I was unable to run much given the ever lasting cough and lack of training. Rob & Pete finished 47/81 without even trying and having bagged four new Munros not on the scoring route!

More photos here
Our routes Day 1 and Day 2
Results and reports here

Ran a LAMM A ding dong

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

This year's Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon took place last weekend in Kintail. Several YAC members were there: Simon (jetlagged as usual) and Debra changed their minds after last year's "never again" and did the D course; Rob and Pete B tried the newly-introduced Score; James (on his first MM) with non-YACcer Chris went for C; while Carmen and I decided to put an end to 3 years of mid-table finishes on the B course, by aiming to finish 2nd-to-last in A.

Long range weather forecasts mid-week were talking about snow and gales by day, ground frosts by night, so it was with some trepidation we made our way north. Fresh snow on the Pennines by the A66 didn't bode well, nor did the torrential rain as we drove through Glencoe. But as we drew near, the clouds cleared, and we arrived in Morvich (near Shiel Bridge) on a fine evening, but cold enough to keep the midges away.

Next morning, expecting the worst, we rejected the planned shorts and T-shirts in favour of long trousers and thermal tops, but as start times approached it was still stubbornly dry. Everyone started from different places – Score from the event centre, C and D from the Cluanie Inn a few miles east, and the A from a minor road to the west.

The Elite and B classes also started to the east, so the A course was the only one to use the north and west of the map on Saturday. This meant that once the initial line of people had been spread out by different route choices and levels of fitness, we saw very few people all day, and most of those we did see were off in the distance. Our course took us over the hill and down to the end of the public road in Glen Elchaig, then a few miles up the glen before striking up the hill to the remote Corbett of Faochaig.

The next leg gave the option of a second Corbett, but we opted for the contouring option instead. The going was grassier and less steep than expected. "I thought we'd have loads of loose crags to negotiate," I said, no prizes for guessing what was round the next corner. We made it to the control fairly directly, a couple of other teams had descended 200m too far and were looking in the wrong place. So, feeling smug as we passed them slogging up the hill as we headed down, we made our way to the next control – down to the valley, over a small col, then an unnecessary wade over the river, crossing back again over a large bridge, working out we were in the wrong place, and getting to the control at the same time as the folk we'd sped past earlier. Oops.

Carmen was having problems at this point and couldn't go very fast. Or so she said, until we got to the last control when she did her normal trick of disappearing into the distance, sprinting to the finish and aiming (successfully) to overtake everyone in sight.

A great day out, mostly sunny with a few light rain showers, which fell as snow on Simon and Debra but not on us :). And a superb campsite at the end, totally midge-free, we even found a flat grassy area to pitch the tent on. All the other YACcers also reached the end several hours before dark, Rob and Pete even embarrassed themselves by lying 17th out of 90 (we were 29/36 in our class).

Reveille the next morning was at 5.15am courtesy of the traditional LAMM bagpiper, but for once it was neither pouring with rain nor alive with midges, so we could take our time over breakfast, sitting outside and enjoying the views.

We set off at 7, and on picking up our control sheet found that today was going to be two thirds the length of Saturday, but with almost as much ascent. The route as far as the 2nd control was fairly straightforward. The next control was on the far side of Sgurr nan Ceathreanhnan, a Munro, and most people followed the ridge up all the way. We took a lower route, following a couple of streams up to a corrie below the ridge, which turned out to be quite a good choice as it followed an old stalker's path for much of the way. At one point I jumped out of my skin as there was a piercing screech from a few feet below me. It was Peri a young fawn, which made itself scarce as fast as it could – I didn't realise they could make that much noise!

The summit of the Munro was in cloud, but we weren't going quite that high – instead we contoured below a subsidiary top, some 50m lower than the main summit – fortunately we'd already bagged it on a previous trip so were spared the choice between Munro-tick and speed!. We now got a good view of the next leg – right down to the valley bottom, then 650m up a ridge on the other side to the summit of Beinn Fhada. It seemed to go on forever, but only actually lasted an hour. A real Munro tick this time, but again, one we'd done already.

The next control was on a col low down on the NE ridge. Everyone else stayed high, following a scrambly ridge, before descending to the checkpoint. But we opted to descend immediately, following the normal walkers' route, and then contour round to the control. Based on other teams, I think our route was slightly quicker, but there wasn't a lot in it. It might have been a different matter if it was raining as the summit ridge of Beinn Fhada is notoriously slippery in the wet, but it was wall-to-wall sunshine for most of the day.

From here it was a quick descent down vertical bracken, then a run for a couple of miles along a track and a road to the finish. Unusually, we did better on the second day than the first, finishing 21st on the day, and 23rd overall so we were rather pleased. The other YACcers all did well too, though Rob and Pete failed in their bid to drop to 50th place.

A fantastic area, with perfect weather, and excellent courses. It was even fun at the time, not just in retrospect as it often is! The only thing wrong with it was the weather forecast, which (luckily) was well wide of the mark – though it was provided by David Braine of the BBC so maybe we shouldn't be too surprised 😉

Event details here, and photos here.

The things we do for fun…

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

A gazillion hungry midges, hundreds of bloodthirsty ticks, blisters on top of blisters, aching legs, sore feet, and a night spent with 2 people squeezed into a 1 person tent, woken at 5am by a bagpiper wearing a midge net.

Yes, it's the Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon, and great fun it was too, in a retrospective sort of way.  YAC was represented by Carmen and me doing the B class, and Simon F & Debra (on her first mountain marathon) doing D.

This year it was based at Glenfinnan, to the west of Fort William, and headed northwards towards Knoydart, with the mid-camp in Glen Dessarry.

Saturday started with an attack of the midges, followed by a coach ride about 10 miles west to the far end of Loch Eilt.  Here we unwisely removed midge nets, only for the wretched things to descend again as we were marking up the maps;  luckily they disappeared as we set off, probably due to the unbroken blue skies and associated hot sunshine.

The first 4 controls were quite straightforward, with easy navigation (given the good visibility) and no major route choice.  The next leg was a long one though (took us just over 3 hours), going round and/or over a couple fo substantial hills.  There were three main route choices – the planner's recommended one, the one taken by the winners, and the one we took!  Hard work but worth it, with beautiful scenery round Loch Morar (and a fine looking bothy, now on the list for a future visit).

After that, the route choice was again limited, and the controls easy to find, before a final fight through a forestry commission plantation brought us to the mid-camp.

Our target for a good time was 8 hours, we took 8 hours 5 minutes and 10 seconds, which we were very pleased with.  Still only managed 45th out of 74 though – the course very much favoured the runners rather than the navigators (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!).

The overnight camp was on the only flat land for miles around – a microlight landing strip!  Luckily there was a slight breeze which kept the worst of the midges away, so we were able to lie around soaking up the sun for a few hours before bed.

It rained a little overnight, and when woken by the piper at stupid o'clock the hills were still hidden by clag, and there were occasional spells of drizzle to remind us we were still in Scotland.  We set off shortly before 8, this time heading further east, towards Gulvain.  I managed to find a good quick line up the first hill, and then proceeded to throw away any advantage this might have given us by looking for the control in the wrong place and wasting 10 minutes finding it.  After that though, everything went quite smoothly, and better still, the sun came out and the midges went to bed.

After control 3, everyone else went up and over the NE ridge of Gulvain.  This would have involved an extra 250m ascent, so we decided to traverse round the ridge instead – quite risky as there were crags marked, which could have involved lots of faffing to avoid.  As it turned out, a series of terraces meant we made quite fast progress, and we arrived at the next control at about the same time as a couple of faster teams who'd taken the short-but-steep route.  Result!

From there onwards it was fairly straightforward, with a bit of traversing, a bit of ascending, and a lot of descent, before lashings of stew and cake at Wilf's rounded off the weekend nicely.  34th on the day, and 39th overall, about the same as usual – even though we're not improving, at least we're not getting much worse!

Having had a week to recover (and forget the worst bits), I'm now at the stage when I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It gave us a chance to re-visit some places we've been before, but also to see areas that most people never go – not only were most of the hills not Munros, some of them weren't even Corbetts!

You can find our photos here, and more details of the event here – where you can sign up on their mailing list to be informed when entries open for next years event.  Go on, you know you want to…