This summer, record-breaking mountaineer Anna Wells will take on a remarkable project: an attempt to climb all 282 Scottish Munros in 62 days, creating a book and blog celebrating the people she meets along the way. We invited Anna to tell us a bit about her project.
By Anna Wells
I believe that we all love meeting people in the outdoors, and certainly a big part of my passion for the mountains is about sharing the adventures with friends – forming bonds and making memories through rich experiences of doubt, joy, fear and success. I have named this project “The People of the Munros”, and I am extremely excited to be turning a long-term dream into a reality.
My ambition for the book is to gather a collection of stories, from and about the people I encounter during my Munro round. Everyone has a story to tell, wisdom to share or words to inspire, and I hope to gather these together to create an inspiring book that reflects and celebrates us all. These profiles will be interspersed by the tale of my epic 62-day journey itself.
My hope for the blog is to share character profiles of mountain-loving people from a big range of backgrounds. We all have different motivations and ambitions, and through the blog I hope to inspire people to get active by showing that adventure is for everyone – and demonstrating the benefits it can bring. I will have the blog up and running during May, in advance of my Munro round itself.
“We need to figure out our strengths and thrive on those, instead of fighting against or denying our weaknesses. We must be true to our hearts and follow the things in life that naturally motivate us”
My background is as a rock climber, and I’ve been fortunate to climb all over the world. I’ve represented Britain in 14 world cup ice-climbing competitions and climbed big routes such as El Capitan in Yosemite. Two years ago I had a shoulder injury that stopped me climbing hard routes, so instead I began to explore the blend between climbing and running, dreaming up big endurance days that involved some technical terrain. Last summer I climbed several 4,000m Alpine peaks as “fast and light” single-day ascents from the valley, instead of the usual approach using lifts and huts. I’ve climbed 55 4,000m peaks in total. Closer to home I’ve had some awesome days doing big linkups on the North Face of Ben Nevis and currently hold the female record for the Cuilin Ridge traverse on the Isle of Skye.
For several years I struggled with anxiety working as a doctor and eventually realised that it was making me an unhappy and lesser version of myself. I came to realise that we are all different as people, and we need to figure out our strengths and thrive on those, instead of fighting against or denying our weaknesses. We must be true to our hearts and follow the things in life that naturally motivate us. I think this is difficult for young people now with social media and unprecedented pressures, and after this project I would love to give talks in schools to share my message. Of course, I would love to motivate people to enjoy the outdoors, but ultimately I want to inspire people to make brave decisions and follow their dreams in any aspect of life.
During my Munro round, I will be driving between mountain areas myself, mostly without support, which will often require walking loops back to a starting point. The current fastest known female time is 77 days, although this was for a self-propelled journey (cycling between hills) – harder in many respects – but with a support vehicle facilitating point-to-point journeys. It’s impossible to compare the two, but I simply hope to set the fastest female time to summit all 282 Munros.
I hope to complete the Munro round between 30 July and 30 September. If you would like to follow the progress of the project then please check out the website at www.thepeopleofthemunros.com where you can subscribe to my mailing list. I have created a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the project, where you can pre-order a copy of the book, or have a Munro dedicated to you, or join me on a guided walk. The campaign is currently live and will be running until Sunday 16 June. There are a limited number of “Earlybird” priced books still available and I would be very grateful for any support.