Chris Tyler sends a cutting from the 11/6/04 West Highland Free Press: "Eighty-three-year-old John Montgomery achieved a remarkable first this week when he successfully scaled the famous "Inaccessible Pinnacle" on the Cuillin Ridge in Skye. Mr Montgomery, a retired former lieutenant in the Royal Engineers who lives in Speyside, has been a regular walker and climber in the Cuillins for a number of years. However, the 'in-pin' [sic] had still to be added to his list of other Munros." He took in Sgurr Mhic Chonnich as well and was guided by George Yeomans who said he didn't know of anyone older having climbed the pinnacle.
The UK Independence Party, aka Ukip, didn't take power in the June elections. Had they done so, however, the bumpy summits in the middle of the Pentlands ridge would surely have been renamed Ekip and Wkip.
It's unclear what constitutes the appropriate verb for completing an ascent of the Kips ("to scale" seems fine), but it certainly isn't "to conquer", at least not in this parish. The conquering of hills and mountains is commonplace, but carries undertones of imperialism, of the hill having somehow been defeated. (The hill just carries on regardless of course, unhindered by the human visit.)
Conquering is spreading to other spheres, however, if this quote - carried by Ceefax on 13 April - is anything to go by. It followed Brian Lara's innings of 400 to regain the Test batting record, and Matthew Hayden - whose 380 this beat - said: "I feel proud to know he's conquered me with such an awesome performance." Vanquished, maybe. Or gubbed. But conquered ?
Long-time TAC reader Alan Haworth is secretary of the parliamentary Labour party at Westminster and has recently been elevated - if that's the word - to the Lords in some kind of reshuffle on Mount Blair. He finished a round of Munros on Ben More Mull, 28/9/01 (the AER centenary), and this appears to make him the first person to possess both a peerage and a Munro completion. His friend Murray Elder - ex-secretary of Labour in Scotland - is now Lord Elder and has fewer than 20 Munros to climb. When he does complete, it will be notable more for willpower and medical prowess than for any parliamentary aspect, as he underwent a heart transplant some years ago.
As for MPs, Chris Smith's completion has been well documented (the Glenfinnan Sgurr nan Coireachan, 27/5/89), and he's the only elected Westminster Munroist. But Murray Tosh, the Dumbarton MSP, completed on Ben Hope, 17/7/02.
In terms of knighted Munroists, there are at least two: Sir John Johnson, ex-head of the Countryside Commission (Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh, 11/4/93) and the late Professor Sir Fred Hoyle (Blaven, 23/10/80). This tendency for such people to complete on Skye is presumably the Knight's Peak effect.
Incidentally, following TAC61, Alan Haworth wrote to say: "The reference to Lady Lorna Anderson (p20) is an intriguing one and - as an obituary writer - I look forward to the fuller account in the next issue." The full obituary will come in due course, but has been held over for now - the main reason being that the editor has it only half-written at present.
TAC 62 Index