Scot becomes first woman to climb every Munro in one winter season

Anna Wells equalled the record set by climber Martin Moran back in 1985.

Inverness woman first to complete all 282 Munros in  winter challenge and equals 1985 record Anna Wells

A woman from Inverness has become the first to climb all of Scotland’s 282 Munros in one winter season.

Anna Wells, 34, from Inverness equalled the record set by climber Martin Moran, who was the first to complete the Winter Munro Round in 1985, climbing them all in just 83 days.

She began the gruelling journey on December 22 tasked with reaching the top of all 282 peaks before the end of astronomical winter on March 20.

The qualified mountaineering instructor ascended to the top of Cairn Gorm on Thursday to complete the journey with 87mph winds and 25 other climbers to greet her.

Ms Wells said she was inspired by Moran’s book and a film made by the last climber to achieve the feat in 97 days, Kevin Woods from Glasgow.

She told STV News: “Mountaineering and climbing are my passions.

“I’m quite a goal-oriented person, so the idea of a clear challenge really appealed to me.

Anna Wells reaches the summit at Cairn Gorm on day 83 of her challenge.Anna Wells

“I’ve always loved big back-to-back days on the mountain and I knew this challenge would play to my strengths because I’ve done a lot of winter mountaineering.

“I liked the idea that not many people had done it and I liked the fact no woman had done it before – it was the chance to do something different.”

Some of the avid climber’s plans were scuppered by illness, injuries and severe weather conditions including flooding and heavy snow along the way.

She added: “The biggest challenges I had were injuries – there were two occasions where I had really bad foot injuries and thought I couldn’t continue.

“That was mentally tough. I’m prone to injuries so I was worried that I would get far through and then hurt myself and not be able to keep going.

“The challenges that winter brings include short hours of daylight, you spend a lot of time in the dark.

Anna Wells battled injuries, illness and severe weather conditions to complete the challenge.Anna Wells

“I had one day where I did nine Munros and the sun set when I was on the fourth one.”

On being the first woman to achieve the feat, she added: “I’ve always been quite lucky that I’ve never felt disadvantaged in any way being a woman in the outdoors.

“I grew up with two brothers and got in to rock climbing first then more into mountaineering and among my peer group I’ve always felt equal.

“Through time, and particularly through this challenge, seeing how women have responded and saying how inspiring it’s been.

“At the start it felt like a nice novelty but as it has gone I realised its actually quite significant to a lot of people.”

She meticulously planned the route with an initial approach of heading south from the Highlands, and hailed the warm hospitality she received from people along the way.

She added: “I was constantly changing my plans to best play my cards with the weather.

“The support was absolutely amazing and for me what has made it.

“People who have done it before have used a van, but I knew I would prefer home comforts and having social company even if it meant more driving.

“I was nervous to put a post out on Facebook but I was utterly overwhelmed by positivity and encouragement.

“I received so many kind offers from people around Scotland offering me meals, beds for the night, driving me places. It’s been fantastic.”

Anna Wells and Martin Moran's son, Alex, on the Munro climb.Anna Wells

On the penultimate day she was joined by Martin Moran’s son, Alex, on Munros in Beinn Dearg.

She documented her journey on Instagram throughout.

A statement by the Martin Moran Foundation on Facebook read: “A huge congratulations to Anna Wells for making history today, becoming the first woman and the fourth person to complete a winter round of all 282 Munro’s in just 83 days.

“Today marks 39 years since Martin became the first to complete this mammoth challenge in 1985, also finishing in 83 days. He would be full of admiration for Anna’s epic achievement.

“Anna’s achievement is utterly inspirational and will serve as a beacon to the next generation of adventurers and young women, whether they’re striving for the seemingly impossible or simply seeking more adventure in their lives.”

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