The Mabores: A New Challenge
from Dougie Benzie
Last year, around the time we used to call summer, TAC suggested that the inhabitants of Albion's Plain should invent for themselves a new challenge to replace the bagging of Munros. We've been holding our breath for a long time now, but still the A74 runs thick. The fact is, they all know where the hills are - or at least where they should be. Nobody's going to come up with a new craze when they're only halfway through this one. We're going to have to do it for them. The new challenge has six required elements:
- It must be simple in principle
- It must be complicated in operation
- It must sustain dispute about what is included in the challenge
- It must change over time
- It must support a guidebook industry
- It must be deadly serious
The key to the new challenge comes from noticing the daftness of Munro classification. Beinn a'Chleibh gets to be a Munro - or one point - but none of Bidean's satellites count, so the whole massif is worth the same as Beinn Laoigh's shoulder. It doesn't seem fair, does it? But this misses the point. You'd climb all over Bidean not to get a point, but because it's a wonderful mountain. So you should get no points for Bidean, on the grounds that it's too interesting. Now we can all list loads of hills that are too interesting to be climbed for points. Most of them really.
No hill is truly uninteresting, but our task is to come up with a list of hills - let's call them "Mabores" - which should be climbed only out of duty. We also have to define a manner in which they should be climbed. For example, you get extra points for choosing a particularly long and boggy approach; for not being able to see anything from the top; for still wearing gaiters, hat and fleece on a hot day or for carrying a guidebook in your back pocket. You don't get any points if your route deliberately or accidentally includes an interesting hill. You get fewer points if you bag more than one without returning to sea level in between. Interesting views have a devastating effect on your pointage.
Thus the aforementioned hump should only be attempted from Cononish if the cloud base was guaranteed to stay below 1500 feet; Carn na Caim and A'Bhuidheanach Bheag should be separated by a trip to Fort William; and Sgiath Chuil should be done blindfolded. There will be no need to go to Skye. Some relatively interesting hills will have to be sacrificed on the grounds of their resemblance to Sauchiehall Street. (Schiehallion comes into this category - there's so much dog shit on it that the council is considering building a kid's playground.)
So we have a simple and suitably Calvinist principle on which we can build a web of definitions and rules. And we can argue until the sheep come home about which hills should or shouldn't be Mabores. Now we have to make them appear numerous and mutable. The best way to do this, particularly in Chequebook-rescue Land, is to name them after Scottish MPs. There must be hundreds of them, and hundreds more every few years. We could choose whether to make them more tongue-friendly for lager louts, as in Ben Smith, or more authentic but descriptive, as in Cac Carn Fhairbhearn. The challenge is never complete. Spartan life at Westminster takes its toll and a Member is rushed to hospital. A herd of baggers stampede to do his or her hill before said Member snuffs it. A legion awaits to pounce, Foinaven-like, on the new Mabore as soon as the by-election result is declared. Guidebooks are out of date as soon as they are printed. The OS continues to rake it in.
Now it's over to you. What are the Mabores? How are they to be Bagged? Who will get to be the custodians of the list? Who will set the points tariff? Will Martin Boran get the ball rolling by doing them all on a wet Sunday afternoon? Will Irbhinn Buttermilk catalogue the most delightfully tedious approaches? Will the Gallus Lavvy-brush have them filmed?
I expect TAC readers to do the decent thing and pretend that we're all doing it. Then we can all get back to climbing hills for fun.
Definitely not Mabores:
Anything north of the Great Glen
Candidates for Maboredom:
Anything south of Carlisle
TAC 18 Index