Friday 5: climber and mountaineer Anna Wells

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Anna Wells is the first female to complete a Winter Munro Round (Image credit: Anna Wells)

Anna Wells, from Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, recently became the first female to complete a Winter Munro Round. The 34-year-old is only the fourth person to finish the feat and she matched the fastest time, too, of 83 days. 

The aim of the challenge is to bag all 282 Scottish mountains with a summit of 3000ft (914.4m) or more – called Munros – within an astronomical winter, between the shortest day of the year and the spring equinox. She completed with seven days in hand on March 13 at around 5.45pm on the summit of Cairn Gorm. 

She faced very wide-ranging conditions, including snow, ice, sleet, high winds white-outs and sunshine. She spent a total of 67 days in the mountains.

Anna was supported by AKU and LEKI on her challenge. See Anna's business, Rocks and Trails, which delivers professional instruction and  guiding for rock climbing and mountaineering activities across the Scottish Highlands. 

She answers our Friday 5 questions:

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Anna during her Winter Munro Round  (Image credit: Anna Wells)

If you could only keep one item out of all your outdoor gear, which would you keep and why?

Walking poles! Before my winter round, I had rarely used walking poles, but now I find them indispensable. This is particularly the case on snow or uneven ground. They are a great way to take the burden off your knees and move more efficiently. It took me a while to get used to them and to find that they added value, so if you're new to poles, my advice is to persist and give it some time.

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Anna faced a wide range of challenges during the round (Image credit: Anna Wells)

What's your pet peeve in the outdoors/adventure space?

I find it upsetting if people don't respect the environment, such as leaving litter.

If you could be instantly transported to the start of any adventure, what would it be, where and why?

Genuinely, I'd take myself right back to the beginning of the Winter Munro Round. I mean the emphasis is on the 'back'. It’s not something that I want to repeat, but it was honestly the best three months of my life. So, if I could go and relive it all (but for the first time again!) then I would.

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Anna on a snow-covered Cuillin Ridge, Isle of Skye, with a friend (Image credit: Anna Wells)

We're sitting round a campfire. Tell us a funny or entertaining story about one of your adventures

One (retrospectively!) funny moment in my Munro round was when I came off the Glenlochay hills late at night and stopped to cross a river. As I was putting my shoes back on, I was met by bright glowing eyes reflecting in my headtorch beam. 

I had long since learned not to be freaked out by such a menacing appearance, having met hundreds of sheep and deer during the nights. 

However, this time, the eyes came closer, and I could see belonged to a growling dog, soon joined by an equally curious companion. Just as I began to get worried that my demise would not be the snowy mountains but instead getting savaged by wild dogs, a nearby voice shouted, "Oi, here dogs."

The shepherd had seen my headtorch on the hill and had come to check that I wasn’t in trouble. 

The situation immediately flipped 180 degrees and, instead, I had a lovely cheerful walk back along the track with the shepherd who told me stories of sheep shearing competitions and valley gatherings.

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Anna is keen to do longer-distance running in the mountains (Image credit: Anna Wells)

Is there any gear that's on your shopping list at the moment?

Yes – running gear. Since finishing my Munro round, I have become very psyched to do lots of long-distance running in the mountains. This will be new for me, meaning there is a whole host of new kit I can justify buying.

It am looking at trail running shoes, a running rucksack, shorts and a lightweight waterproof jacket to start. Buying outdoor gear is a dangerous hobby.

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.