The Angry Corrie 20: Oct-Dec 1994

Cumulative Munroists:
Several Unwarranted Assumptions

G.L.Hutchison and L.McLoughlin


More people are climbing more Munros, more often. The authors draw a couple of graphs, drink some beers, extrapolate wildly and reach a number of unsupported conclusions.

Key words

Munroists, cumulative; Extrapolations, wild; Conclusions, unsupported; Beers, some.


Well, there we were in the famous Dundee hostelry, the Peh and Pint, talking about this and that (and the other, of course), when one of us (L.McL.) happened to remark on the appalling number of clueless bobble-hats who were wandering haplessly around the Scottish Highlands, making life miserable for the rest of us. It was concluded that the Scottish Mountaineering Club and its iniquitous, money-grubbing guide books were ultimately to blame. This is a view which has frequently been expressed by others [1-4]. The conversation then naturally progressed to speculation on the horrid future of hillwalking if the present accelerating trend were to continue. Speculation was aided by the fortuitous presence of a copy of Munro's Tables (belonging to G.L.H.), and a lap-top computer of mysterious and possibly dodgy provenance (property of L.McL.).


We first ordered another round of beers, and then wiped the table-top carefully, to prevent soiling of the valuable electronics. While G.L.H. read aloud, L.McL. typed yearly Munroist totals into the lap-top, frequently cursing the recalcitrant tracking-ball as he did so.

Data were available for the years up to and including 1990. However, this last year was excluded from the recorded data because a) it looked a bit incomplete, and b) it looked like it might mess up the figures. (This, we assure you, is how Proper Science is done.)

The data were plotted (Fig. 1), and examined visually. Nothing came immediately to mind, so we ordered another round. A suitable formula for curve-fitting was then easily selected by the Looks-Like Method. ("Looks like a super-geometric curve to me.") The data were found to fit the equation:

Munroists = 1.1x10**-61 x year**(0.0097year)

with a correlation coefficient r2=0.98. We weren't sure what r2 was, but it seemed to make the lap-top very happy.

Were we at all daunted by that infinitesimal figure of 10**-61? Nope. We cracked right ahead and extrapolated the damn thing.


Well, then we couldn't get all of the curve to fit on the screen, of course. So we ordered another round, and then we found a button labelled "Log Scale", and we clicked it, and we got another really good graph (Fig. 2).

Um. Yes, that's all our results.


Pretty awful, eh?

We think it's clear that events will follow roughly this timetable:

2010: Muriel Gray publishes The Munros, The First Fifty Times.

2020: Hamish Brown becomes the first Munros2 completionist - the first continuous, self-propelled round of all the Munros 277 times in succession.

2130: Everyone in Britain has completed the Munros at least once. The waiting list for Schiehallion ascents is now so long that parents must book their offspring onto it as soon as the pregnancy test is confirmed. The SMC, now an international conglomerate, has offices in every major American and European city.

2170: The entire Chinese population starts "topping out" on Tom Dubh. B&B accommodation in the Fort William area is fully booked for the next hundred years. 150 million metric tons of Chinapersons romping up and down the Atlantic coast causes Scotland to tilt tectonically westwards, with renewed volcanic activity in the Inner Hebrides. The Inaccessible Pinnacle is rendered truly inaccessible by lava flows.

2185: Constant lava outpourings raise Sgurr nan Gillean to 17,000 feet. (It now lives up fully to the immortal words of WA Poucher FRPS: "A coign of vantage not easily attained by the simple pedestrian.") Continued tilting of the Scottish crustal plate pushes the entire east coast above three thousand feet. However, SMC Enterprises Inter-national refuse to make any alterations to The Book, on the grounds that they "just made most of it up in the first place."

2200: The world's population finishes all the Munros, aided by the fact that much of mainland Scotland has been eroded completely flat. Crisis looms for the SMC World Government, but is narrowly averted by the arrival of intelligent aliens from Alpha Centauri, who are met on the steps of their spacecraft by a man carrying a slim red book. And it's not Eamonn Andrews.


We did it all ourselves, actually. No-one helped.

Note added in press:

Oh. Here's another thing. After a while, we got this idea of extrapolating backwards, to get down to 0.00361, or 1/277. That happens in 1846 - 1846.845, actually. So we can say with some confidence that the first ever ascent of a Munro was completed on November 4th, 1846. At about 10:15 in the morning. Which means that, whichever one it was, it was probably quite handy from the road.


  1. BIGOT B. Who are all these people? Scottish Journal of Elitist Hillwalking 1988; 3: 214-215
  2. BOOR D. And where did they all come from, anyway? The Bothy Banterer 1989; 1: 1 (editorial)
  3. BASTARD F. It'll be the bloody SMC to blame, you mark my words. Landowner and Shotgun Enthusiast 1990; 178: 9-21
  4. BOTHIDIAN G.C. The day trip, and why it is immoral. In: Throw another chair on the fire, Grant. Gorton: SODit Press, 1992; 67-81 et passim

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