TAC64 included some musings on the subject of the Hill Eddington number H, defined as where H or more ascents have been made of a hill H miles away. For some readers this felt like being plunged back into a nightmare of teenage maths lessons, but for others it set them thinking...
My H must be about 14, for Arthur's Seat. Lurking in the wings would be Ben Cleuch, or possibly one of the Lomonds, but I'll need to put in a few more ascents for them. In the interest of offering fair reward for effort, however, you should introduce categories, eg a Graham H (HG), a Corbett H (HC), etc.
Another take on this would be a Hill Eddington age number, a Steve Hillage or Hillage named in honour of the 70s prog-rock hero. This could relate to the number of times you have climbed a hill at that age. If, for example, a 26-year-old ascends Ben Nevis every fortnight starting on his 26th birthday, then his Hillage would be 26. Taking this approach, I reckon the editor's Hillage for Ben Cleuch must be into the 40s. (Indeed: it's currently 43, as I've already climbed Ben Cleuch 49 times at age 43, with a couple of irrelevant weeks still to go - Ed.) My own Hillage for Arthur's Seat is 40, and as long as folk such as Eddie Dealtry, Tom Bell and Alan Douglas keep going strong on Dumgoyne, Ben Cleuch and Ben Lomond, the optimal Hillage must be well into the 70s, even the 80s.
This approach would reward repeat local ascents. It is akin to shooting your age at golf, but slightly easier to achieve. As with orthodox Hill Eddingtons, the Hillage could be further refined to accommodate hill types: just multiply by the height of the hill in metres. I guess the optimal hill-category Hillage for this country would likely come from some active octogenarian living near Achintee, as 80 x 1344 = 107,520 - although I'd be very impressed if anyone got near 50,000.
I live too close to the hills to get a really high H score. But a flick through my records comes up with the following: Cader Idris 18 miles away, 54 ascents; Mynydd Mawr 18/21; Arenig Fawr 17/23; Carnedd Dafydd 17/17; Glyder Fach 14/41; Moel Eilio 12/17. Many others score more than ten. Carnedd Llewelyn at 19 miles and 16 ascents is my best chance of an increase - beyond that there would be a lot of work to do.
While on the subject, I'd like to claim possibly the lowest H. I once lived 5½ furlongs from the top of Arthur's Seat. This gives a decimal H of 0.7 - which might be as low as it gets. (Ed. - This raises the question of what constitutes 0.7 of an ascent of a hill, a hard thing to measure, let alone pin down philosophically.)
For those of us who tend not to do multiple ascents (not that there's anything wrong with that), there's always the chance to visit n Marilyns each more than n miles from home. The first challenge is to beat all the London Munrobaggers, a fair number of whom score close to 230.
Another context where Eddington's ideas have come up is cricket, where people make quite a big thing of a batsman scoring 100 hundreds. I'm afraid I don't know what the record is, but I'm fairly sure it would be Jack Hobbs, who scored something like 125 125s. (Ed. - I haven't yet been able to track down a complete list of Hobbs' 197 first-class centuries, but Geoff Boycott, in scoring 151 centuries, made 113 or more 115 times, but 114 or more only 112 times, so had a Cricket Eddington EC of 113. Len Hutton's 129 centuries included an unusual proportion of low ones - 29 were no higher than 104 - and his EC was 104, reached 106 times.)
I set off for Carn a'Chlamain in February with two friends but got no further than Blair Atholl due to a snowbound A9, so headed instead for Rowardennan and Ben Lomond ...
"When we got on to Sron Aonaich at around 525m, there was 30cm of snow, becoming icy, hurricane winds and spindrift from directly north. We were virtually crawling and (amongst dozens of others) retreated. About 50m above the top gate, we three in line astern were lifted 2m into the air and deposited some 5m down the slope. No injuries, thankfully, as we fell on to snow, but it could have been serious on a narrow ridge. And so to Dumgoyne - a round-trip of approximately 160 miles for my 832nd ascent!
"A question. If, when I'm returning down the A9 from walks or weekends north of Blair Atholl, I finish off the day with a Dumgoyne ascent, can I claim an H of 60, the crow-flown miles from Blair Atholl to Dumgoyne, after 60 such repeats?" (Ed. - No, sorry. H is the direct line from home to summit, no matter how devious the on-the-ground route. Years ago, my friend Mike Adam and I had a similar day to Jimmy's Chlamain-Lomond-Dumgoyne effort, when we failed to get a foothold on either Glas Maol or Ben Gulabin due to every layby being filled with deep, unploughed snow. Ditto at West Lomond, so we ended up on Dumyat, three miles from Mike's house.)
I am pretty sure my E number is in the mid-40s, because of bicycle outings in my teens (mid-to-late 1940s) when I used to do day trips of 40-70 miles round the Worcestershire countryside in the school holidays. Not much road traffic in those days, when lorries were 20mph-plated and it was easy enough to hang on the back for a tow. One would probably need to be Lance Armstrong or somebody like that to beat Eddington's E of 87 nowadays. The motor car has a lot to answer for.
I think your H number calls for more work. I therefore propose M (for Munrovitus, a combination of Munro, roving and Vitus, he of the twitch, also known in birdwatching circles), where M is the highest number of days in your life on which you have (a) bagged one or more Munros, and (b) travelled at least M miles (including après-climb mileage) to do so. Miles covered by walking, push-biking or other self-propelled means not to be counted.
The lower one's score, the greater one's merit, and conversely the higher one's score, the more ludicrous one's affliction. Golfers will recognise the logic of this method of assessment, though whether such persons exist within the hillwalking community is another matter. I fancy my personal M is around 150 (ie 150 hillwalking outings of 150 or more miles). If so, I shall at least be able to climb Beinn Dorain without adding to this ghastly value, but future day outings to Glen Coe or further afield will add to my score.
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