Winter Munros: More Than Halfway

On Feb. 3, Anna Wells made it to the halfway point of her winter Munros challenge. If she completes all 282 Munros within astronomical winter, she will be the first woman and fourth person ever to do so in winter. The Munros are all the Scottish peaks above 3,000 feet.

Since Feb. 3, she has completed a further 10 Munros. This means that she has a little less than six weeks to tick off the remaining 131. For this, she will need to maintain her current pace of about three a day. She is trying to pick logically which Munros to tackle each day.

Wells is not doing this as a continuous journey. She is basing herself out of her mother’s home in Inverness and drives or cycles to the various peaks each day, depending on how far away they are. For the most distant ones, she occasionally stays with friends or members of the outdoor community who have offered a warm bed.

Not fully human-powered

Of the three people who have completed the winter Munros, only one has done it as a fully human-powered journey. Speaking to UK Climbing about her decision to use mechanized transport, Wells said, “I think that the self-propelled round that Steve [Perry] did in 2006 is a million times harder. In my mind, it’s barely even comparable, and I don’t think I would be mentally capable of that.

“Days where I have walked off the hill, soaked, freezing, and covered in mud, I have fantasized about getting home for a bath and a nice warm bed. I can’t even begin to imagine getting into a tent! Plus all the extra weight that you’d have to carry. I am far too soft for that.”

Photo: Anna Wells


One of the big challenges has been the weather. Winter seemed to start earlier this year, and at the start of 2024, there was a lot of snow. Though she had a rough plan to check off the Munros by working from north to south, this was not always the best option.

At the start of the year, as snow levels and weather prompted avalanche warnings, she diverted south for a few days. She has also rerouted because of road work, and most recently, to tick off some distant outliers on the Munro map: Beinn Bhuide and Ben Lomond.

Fewer chances for rest days now

As well as rerouting when needed, Munro is trying to listen to her body by taking rest days when needed. She does not want overuse injuries to flare up. But as she gets closer to the spring equinox in March, the opportunity for rest days is dwindling, and her knee is now in a supportive brace.

Though Munro will be the only person to complete the Munros this winter, it is by no means a solo effort. For many sections, friends and family have joined her. When alone, she often listens to audiobooks to cheer herself up. But one book she played told such a depressing story that Wells found herself sobbing on the way up the Munro she was climbing.

The hardest day so far has been Jan. 21, as Storm Isha pelted the UK with 110kph winds, thick snow, and rain. Despite this, she managed Munros 104 to 107 — the Ben Cruchan 4.

Mentally and emotionally, Wells believed the second quarter of any big challenge is the hardest. “You’ve done a lot, but you’re not even halfway, so it feels scary!” she commented on social media.

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.