The Angry Corrie 15: Oct-Nov 1993

WALKING TYPES No. 9: The Hi-Tech Athlete

The South Shiel Ridge should be savoured. That's what you're thinking as you flop down next to the cairn on Maol Chinn-dearg, You've savoured it so much already that you're an hour behind Naismith's bloody Formula, but the thighs are protesting mightily, so savouring is the order of the day. From the way your calves have turned to chewed string, you know it's going to be a long, evil leg-wobbler of a trek down the brae into the glen at the end of all this. But "sufficient unto the brae is the evil thereof ', as it says in the Bible, and now it's time for a wee seat, a look at the view, and a cheese and-pickle sandwich to celebrate the half-way point.

He surges on to the suninut so quickly and unexpectedly that you almost drop your Irn Bru. He's very brown and not out of breath at all. He's wearing a muscle T-shirt and cut away shorts, Rolex on the left wrist, Indian beads on the right. Green light-weight boots with a famous label on them, and an anatomical frame rucksack which weighs about four ounces and costs slightly more than your car.

This rucksack contains wonders. A combined compass, clinometer and altimeter. A tent made from mylar which weighs two pounds including poles, and which just hugs the ground harder in a high wind. Packets of low-residue astronaut food which let you camp out for a week without having a single bowel movement. (Yeah, well, I can do that anyway.) Waterproofs personally signed by Chris Bonnington.

He doesn't sit down. Just gives you a nod and strolls once round the cairn with his hands on his hips, looking at the world and letting the world look at him, and then he's gone, jogging a bit on the downhill path.

He's cut the handle off his toothbrush to save weight, and he's strip-cut all his maps so that they only cover about a mile either side of his route. Man, if he gets lost, he's going to be lost.

It's really a shame that so much good gear has been wasted on such a complete plonker.


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