The hobby of peak bagging probably first originated in the UK, with numerous mountain lists published including the Munros (Scotland) in 1891, the Corbetts (Scotland) which was compiled in the 1920s, and later the Marilyns (England, Wales and Scotland) in 1992. Our own list of Ribus, or peaks with 1000 metres of prominence, was first published in 2009 and was initially focused on Indonesia.
Given that both founders of Gunung Bagging come from the UK originally, we thought it would interesting to look at the Ribus back where we were born. How would Britain compare alongside the peaks of the Malay Archipelago?
Well, whereas Indonesia has 232 Ribus (at last count!), the British Isles comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland has just four Ribus as follows:
Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa)
Ben Nevis – Located near the Highland town of Fort William, Ben Nevis is a very popular mountain with around 100,000 ascents each year. It can be hiked easily in a single day from Glen Nevis, with most requiring around 4 hours up and 2 or 3 hours back down again.
Carn Eige – The highest mountain north of the Great Glen, Carn Eige is 10 kilometres from the nearest road in Glen Affric. It is usually hiked from the south at Loch Affric and requires a full day of 9 or 10 hours.
Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) – There are several trails up Snowdon, ranging from a simple path alongside the Snowdon Mountain Railway from Llanberis to the north to the tougher scrambling approach via the narrow ridge called Crib Goch from the east. A return hike up Snowdon takes most people between 6 and 8 hours.
Carrauntoohil – The highest peak in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks range and indeed all of Ireland, Carrauntoohil is another day-hike, requiring around 6-8 hours in total from Hag’s Glen via the Devil’s Ladder.
The closest other three mountains to reaching Ribu status are as follows:
Isle of Skye
Isle of Mull
Sgurr Alasdair – The highest peak of the Black Cuillin and the highest peak on the Isle of Skye in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, this is one of Britain’s most stunning viewpoints. Some scrambling is required to reach the top from Glen Brittle via the Great Stone Chute but the hike can be completed by most in 6 or 7 hours. Sgurr Alasdair is Britain’s only sub-Ribu (a mountain with a prominence of between 990 and 999 metres) failing to qualify as a Ribu by less than ten metres!
Ben More (Crianlarich) – Located near the small Scottish town and railway station at Crianlarich, this mountain is most often climbed from Benmore Farm along with its neighbour Stob Binnein. It takes most hikers 7-8 hours to complete the trek.
Ben More (Mull) – The highest mountain on the Isle of Mull in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, Ben More is usually hiked in 5-6 hours from Dhiseig on the southern shores of Loch na Keal. The name comes from Scottish Gaelic and means ‘great mountain’, and there are several mountains and hills across the Highlands with the very same name.
Interesting additional facts:
England’s highest (and most prominent) peak, Scafell Pike (978m), has a prominence of just 912m.
Northern Ireland’s highest (and most prominent) peak, Slieve Donard (850m), has a prominence of just 822-825m (conflicting figures given on Wikipedia).
The third largest island by area in the British Isles is Lewis and Harris, the largest island of the Outer Hebrides. At 799m, the highest mountain of Lewis and Harris is The Clisham (An Cliseam).
The Isle of Man (Mann) is a crown dependancy in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. Its highest peak is Snaefell (621m).
It comes as little surprise that Indonesia’s island of Java is the world’s most populous, but some may be shocked to hear that Great Britain is in third place (after Japan’s Honshu).
Ribus of The World
In Septmber 2023, the current tally by the World Ribus project is 7150 Ribus across Earth plus very approximately 232 sub-Ribus (peaks with between 990 and 999.99 metres of topographic prominence).