MOUNTAINEERS can often be accused of having naked ambition but there are those who take it all a bit too literally.
Back in 2007 a young couple from Bedfordshire caused a bit of a stir when it was reported they intended to climb all the Munros au natural. Stuart and Karla had been pictured nude on the summits of some of our highest hills.
Unfortunately, we never found out if they achieved their goal because a few months after the story broke they shut down their website and they have stayed quiet on the subject ever since.
It’s certainly not something I would be looking at (probably a poor choice of words), but it’s a shame that what should have been a private pastime had been quickly turned into a freak-pointing show.
Stuart and Karla’s climbs all took place in the months May to September. But last week photographer Dan Arkle went one better - or should that be bitter? - when he stripped off on the snow-covered Crib Goch ridge near Snowdon.
The 35-year-old from Sheffield had set off up the mountain in the dark fully dressed, using crampons and ice axe. And while most walkers would be content just to get to the summit to watch the sun rise, Dan got his gear off and his photo gear out for a shoot.
He said it was all to highlight how “weak and vulnerable humans are in such a place without modern technology and protective equipment.” Or, in short, for publicity.
I have only once encountered someone walking naked in the mountains and we will come to that in a minute. But they are out there. A few websites actively encourage walkers to get out in the flesh air.
A female friend once told me she often used to go skinny-dipping in high mountain lochans when she was out solo walking. She said there was no better feeling than immersing herself in the pure, cold water.
Unfortunately, while the water may be invigorating, I’m not so sure about the air. No, if it’s not part of the six months of the year when it is absolutely Baltic, it is filled with little biting things that are bad enough even if you were wearing a suit of armour.
I take my hat off - but that’s all - to anyone who is prepared to bare all on the hills. The closest I’ve come to bearing any flesh was when wearing shorts and I gave that up a long time ago. Years of ticks, midges and clegs have convinced me that long trousers are now the more sensible option.
Anyway, back to my nude encounter. It was 2005 and eight of us were traversing the seven Munros of the South Shiel Ridge. As we slogged our way up to the final peak, Creag nan Damh, I noticed that one of the guys seemed to have vanished. He had been close behind us a few minutes earlier but now there was no sign of him.
We called out but there was no reply. Just when we were getting ready to head back to look for him, he reappeared. We figured he must have made a toilet stop, and during that time he had changed from a dark top into a pink one.
Only it wasn’t a pink t-shirt. It quickly became apparent that he wasn’t wearing anything - except a hat. He had stripped naked and was coming up to the summit with just a map case covering his bits.
He thought his partner would find it hilarious. Strangely enough, she didn’t. In fact, while we howled with laughter she just turned a deep shade of red.
(First published Daily Record, January 16, 2014)