FOR most people the completion of a round of Munros is enough of an achievement for a lifetime.
A second round is quite common, a third less so but still not unusual. And then there are those who just keep on going.
The current record, held by Steven Fallon, is an amazing 15 rounds, and despite there being a handful of people with between ten and four circuits to their name, it is unlikely Steven’s total will be bested anytime soon, especially as he’s still going strong.
But when it comes to the fair sex, the late Geraldine Guestsmith’s record of six rounds looks likely to be surpassed soon.
Two remarkable ladies, Hazel Strachan and Anne Butler, are keeping pace with each other as they rack up multiple rounds of Scotland's 3,000-foot mountains.
Okay, it’s not a rivalry like Coe v Ovett or Borg v McEnroe. They just do their own thing because they love being out on the hills, not because there is someone or something to beat.
I had the pleasure of joining Hazel and her family in Glenshee the other week for the ascent of Glas Maol, the final Munro of her fifth round. Champagne and cake were the order of the day.
First impressions are of a slight, softly-spoken lady who was heading out for a quiet stroll. But don’t be fooled. There is a steel and a determination that most of us can only dream of.
This is someone who has backpacked round Alaska, who cycled round Iceland (the country, not the shop), and, of course, who has now ticked off all our biggest, baddest peaks five times over.
But then Hazel is from a farming background and you don’t find many softies in that business.
Hazel did her first round in 2005. Injury problems slowed her down for a while but she still managed to finish again in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Her fifth round has been done in under a year.
She and hubby Ian recently invested in a camper van, so most weekends they leave their home near Edinburgh and set off into the wilds. Ian is happy to do the driving, wave his wife off, kick back his heels and have a cuppa ready when she descends a day or two later with another pile of peaks under her belt. Round six has already started.
Anne, meanwhile, expects to complete her fifth finish before the end of the year and that will mean she has managed a round for each of the last four years.
That may be some feat but her first round finish back in 2005 was probably even more astonishing because at that time she was still living in Devon.
Now based in Aviemore with submariner husband Bill - as we were talking he called home: he has a Captain Pugwash ringtone - the peaks are tumbling fast.
She even managed to do a double completion in 2010, finishing the Munros and the Corbetts on the same day. And with that her faithful collie Molly became the first canine to do the full round of Corbetts.
But despite clocking up around 1,000 Munros, Molly has yet to become a “compleatist”. The fierce Black Cuillin of Skye are just a step too far for her. It’s hard to see how she would tackle the In Pinn.
(First published Daily Record, August 8, 2013)