HE is halfway through a challenge that would test the hardiest of hillwalkers but even some of Scotland’s wildest weather hasn’t dampened one climber’s spirit as he takes on the challenge of bagging all 282 Munros in winter in a single trip.

Kevin Woods, 28, from Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, set off on his ambitious expedition on December 22, the day of the winter solstice. The following day he climbed the four Munros around Ben Cruachan, covering over 20 miles and 2,450 metres of ascent.

He spent Christmas Day around the Crianlarich hills, and on Hogmanay ascended the mountains of Glen Coe.

Now he has reached the halfway point of his epic journey, 43 days after starting up Ben More on Mull.

On February 2, Mr Woods, who over the course of 2019 summited 215 peaks, stepped on to the icy summit of Stob Choire Claurigh, Lochaber, in the pre-dawn gloom at 7.30am. It was his141st peak, halfway to his target of completing the ascent of the 282 Scottish mountains over 3,000ft.

Despite the early hour, it was already his second mountain of the day – he had bagged Stob Ban, a mile back down the ridge, after a 5.30am start by head-torch from Lairig Leacach bothy. He then continued over the Grey Corries range and after nine hours climbing he crossed the plateau of Ben Nevis, in thickly falling snow.

Mr Woods is being supported by friends and relatives who are delivering food and other supplies, but normally he climbs alone because he is too fast for most to keep up

He said: “The season so far has been one storm into another, we’ve just had westerlies off the ocean for weeks, since I started.”

Late January saw some of the worst ground conditions so far, with deep soft snow piled in the wilds of Atholl, north of Pitlochry.

In Glen Diridh he was “wading through it, slipping, falling over, on your knees, up again. It was one of the few points where I felt, this is very, very tough.”

The next day he was on Beinn a’Ghlo when the Cairngorm summit weather station was recording110mph gusts.

He said: “It was just like flicking on a switch. Suddenly I was clenching my walking poles, digging them into the ground, and staggering forward between the blasts, the wind roaring in my ears.”

Three days later, the Ben Nevis range provided his biggest haul of peaks – 10 – in a single day since setting out, and one of his few rest days followed – only his third in the 44 days of his expedition to date.

On February 8 he crossed the Great Glen into the north-west Highlands, summiting Meall na Teanga and Sron a’Choire Ghairbh above Loch Lochy with blue skies above.

But on Tuesday, his fears were confirmed when he had to abandon the climb. He said: “The hills were wild, a hard wind with big snow showers moving through. Ten minutes out of Achnasheen and rumbles of thunder made a decision for me. We don’t play God. Some days aren’t to be.”