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Week Ending 18.01.20

Scouts Hit the Peak

At the start of 2019, a group of Scouts and Explorers from Greenock & District committed themselves to take on The Everest Challenge, a year-long undertaking to climb the equivalent height of Mount Everest on Scottish hills. Measured at 29,029ft, that’s no small challenge even for regular hillwalkers, but many of the Scouts and Explorers were new to the activity and unsure of what lay ahead.

The event involved a weekend away every month, with Munro-sized hill walks on both the Saturday and Sunday, with a lightweight camp on a wild remote campsite overnight. Only in the darkest winter months was the outing just a single day walk instead of the whole weekend.

The Everest Challenge has taken place for Greenock & District Scouts every few years. 2019 saw its 40th anniversary and involved more youths and leaders than ever before – seventy-one recruits started off in January.

The first few hills were designed as training trips. Moorlands behind Inverclyde with the walkers following heavy-going routes away from any paths and with few landmarks to help navigation. And then moving on to exploring lower hills near Loch Lomond

After that, the hills got higher and harder with weekends spent in the Arrochar Alps and the Black Mounts near Bridge of Orchy. Over the course of the year they spent weekends on the Lawers range, the Crianlarich hills, Glencoe, Perthshire and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs.

At the end of a year of hillwalking, a total of forty-two Scouts and Explorers managed to successfully gain their Everest Challenge badge and neckie. Some of them even involved friends and family to climb extra hills. Seven really went for broke and managed to climb twice the height of Everest in the year.

In total, between them they had climbed over 2½ million feet – that’s nearly up to the International Space Station twice over. And together they spent a total of 1080 walking days to do it. With a nod to the future, several Explorers and leaders used their experience to gain a leadership permit for hillwalking that will help the next time the event is run.


The group held an Awards Night in Greenock Town Hall last week. They walked through their experiences of the year before receiving their certificates from Ronnie Cowan MP.

Founding member Graham Patrick talked them through the history of the Challenge from its early days, and Greenock’s own Carrie Gibson talked about her experience when she became the first UK Scout to summit Mount Everest itself in 2007.

The future of hillwalking in Greenock & District looks good with another generation of Scouts gaining valuable experience and a love for the pastime.