Last training push, part deux

September 13, 2009


This is me (Pete, for the avoidance of doubt) standing at the summit of Ben Ledi (2,883 ft high, according to

As I said in my previous post, Ben Ledi is not a Munro.  In fact, it’s a Corbett.  Corbetts are shorter than the average Munro, just as their famous namesake, Ronnie, is shorter than the average person.  So those of you who know me will agree that this was an entirely fitting mountain for me to climb.

Here’s a wee pic of Ben Ledi for all to see:


Anyway, me and the missus made it to the top and down in 3 hours 15 minutes flat, including a 15 minute stop at the summit for lunch.

Best of all, my dodgy leg held up.

All set for Peru this Friday, then!


Trek Tactics

September 11, 2009

Countdown is on.

Pete and I got together recently to talk trekking strategy. Basically it’s consists of not dieing!!!

We have agreed to adopt the US Army’s policy- No Man is Left Behind!!

That’s torn it.

July 9, 2009


Well, I went to the doctors yesterday and, thankfully, I was wrong.

My achilles tendon is intact and working  fine (that’s a relief – he said it could take between 6 weeks to 2 years or more to heal that puppy).

But I’ve torn my Gastrocnemius (your whattiumus? – Ed).  That’s the large calf muscle, to you. 

The picture above is an exact representation of what appears to have happened (except it’s my left leg that’s injured). 

The bad news is I have to give it complete rest, apart from gentle walking on the flat, for a minimum of 4 weeks.  Which is a bit of a bummer, as I had lots of hill walking planned at the end of July/beginning of August.

The good news is, he says I should be A1 in time for Peru.

“That’s funny”, I said, “I wasn’t A1 before I ruptured my Gastrothingimus!


June 29, 2009


Looks harmless enough, doesn’t it?

But the common (or garden) wheelbarrow shown above could potentially scupper this whole venture.

Last Saturday, me and my brother in law, Kerry, were loading concrete slabs into a trailer in order to take them to the local dump. This necessitated pushing a wheelbarrow heavily laden with slabs up a plank, a job we took in turns.

On my second shot at “plank running,”  just as I was launching the barrow up the plank, I felt the sensation of someone or something slapping me hard on the back of my lower left leg. I turned round to see what had hit me, but there was nothing there.  It hurt like hell, though.

I later learned that I had strained or ruptured the achilles tendon just where it connects to the gastrocnemius (large calf muscle) and could be out of serious action for up to three months!

To add insult to injury, I learned this phenomenon typically happens to “older” men who don’t get much regular exercise, but insist on behaving as if they are just as fit as they’ve always been.

Can’t imagine who they’re talking about, can you?

I will post an update once I’ve seen the doctor.

El Camino de la Muerte (the road of death)

June 16, 2009


The North Yungas Road, as it is otherwise known, is a 64 km stretch of continuous downhill road leading from the world’s highest city, La Paz to Coroico in Bolivia.

It is legendary for its extreme danger and in 1995 the Inter-American Development Bank christened it “the world’s most dangerous road”.

One estimate is that 200-300 travelers are killed annually on the road, which is marked at regular intervals by crosses indicating where its victims met their untimely ends. On July 24, 1983, a bus veered off the road and into a canyon, killing more than 100 passengers in what is said to be Bolivia’s worst road accident.

Why is it so deadly?  A number of factors all contribute.  First of all, the extreme dropoffs of at least 600 meters, with no guard rails.  Then there’s the fact that much of the road is single-lane width —  no wider than 3.2 meters.  Further still, rain and fog can make visibility precarious, and the wet rainforest climate makes the surface slippy and causes rocks to fall from the  hillsides above.

One man’s meat, of course,  is another man’s poisson.

The extreme danger of the road has ironically made it a popular tourist destination.  Mountain biking enthusiasts, in particular, are drawn to the Road of Death, lured by the appeal of its 64 kilometers of continuous downhill riding and the activity keeps several tour operators permanently employed, providing information, guides, transportation, and equipment.

The local understakers are kept pretty busy too.  At least 13 of these cyclists died on the ride since 1998.

A possible side trip for the intrepid Peru Trek team?  Hell, yeah!

Beats driving.

Here’s a video we found of a documentary made about the road:

First training hike

May 4, 2009


Sunday 3rd May and an early start, leaving the house at 9am sharp and bundling wife, dog and three children (Glen – 17, Scott – 15 and Rosie -10) into the car for the two house drive up to Bridge of Orchy.  Our mission?  To boldly (or even lamely) conquer Beinn Dorain, one the Bridge of Orchy hills just off the West Highland Way and across the road from the Bridge of Orchy Inn.   

Okay, at  1076 metres (3530 feet) it isn’t in quite the same ballpark as Machu Picchu (2430 metres; 8,000 feet in old money).  But it is a Munro and a very pretty one at that, as well as being one of the most recognisable Scottish mountains.

It is the subject of Duncan Ban MacIntyre’s best known Gaelic poem, “Moladh Beinn Dòbhrainn” ( English: “In Praise of Ben Doran”) which goes like this:

An t-urram thar gach beinn
Aig Beinn Dòbhrain;
De na chunnaic mi fon ghrèin,
‘S i bu bhòidhche leam…

English translation:

Honour beyond each ben
for Ben Doran;
Of all I have seen beneath the sun,
she is the most glorious for me

I didn’t take the picture above as it was one of those “all four seasons in a single day” days and we just couldn’t get a clear shot of it.  In fact, just before the summit we were hit by a serious hail blizzard that reminded us where the expression, “face like a skelped erse” came from. 

Despite this and the fact it was the first serious walk of the year, we all made it safely up and down.  Rosie’s very first Munro too!