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Published on 9 November 2022

Glencoe summit ascent could be record breaker for climbing nurse

Sunny reached the summit of the Pap of Glencoe to the sounds of the pipes and a guard of honour formed by walking poles.

As Sunny Huang completed a two-year climbing challenge she admitted she was overcome with emotion as it began to sink in just what she had achieved.
The 50-year-old Edinburgh nurse became the 77th person to complete what is known as the Full House, and she may well have done it in a record time.

Ms Huang became the first Chinese woman to bag every Munro in Scotland in 2017 and when she read about the Full House, which involves reaching every peak over 2000ft in Scotland, plus mountains (Furths) over 3000ft in the UK and Ireland, she initially thought it was a crazy idea, but a few years later she found herself taking up the challenge.

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Sunny Huang standing on top of Pap of Glencoe with Scottish and Chinese flags Credit: Sunny Huang
Sunny Huang standing on top of Glengoe mountain with Scottish and Chinese flags

According to the Scottish Mountaineering Club the term ‘Full House’ was first introduced in 2010 and means climbing all the Munros, Munro Tops, Furths, Corbetts, Grahams and Donalds on the SMC register of hills.

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Sunny with supporters Credit: Sunny Huang
Sunny Huang with supporters on top of Glencoe

Sunny climbed all six lists of SMC consisting of 1124 hills within the UK and Ireland all of which are above 2000 feet.

Her last ascent was the Pap of Glencoe on October 1, which was timed to coincide with National China Day, and now she is not quite sure what to do with herself after her mammoth challenge.

'This has been two years of my life. Every weekend I have left work on a Friday and packed up my car ready to go up to the hills,' said Ms Huang.

I would walk for a few days, sometimes a week or more, walking between 12 and 19 hours a day on average, depending on the weather and conditions. I hope to become the 77th person, registered with the Scottish Mountaineering Club, to have completed this challenge. I did 17 peaks in one day and then beat my own record with 19 on the Nevis Range.

When I reached the final summit, it was very emotional for me. There was a group there to meet me with walking poles for a guard of honour and when I heard the pipes that did it for me.

- Sunny Huang.

Initially Ms Huang thought it would take her six years to complete, but her determination saw her achieve it in two years.

'I just kept going and every spare minute I had I have been on the hills,' she added. 'I have to admit it has taken its toll on my knees a bit, but I finished much sooner than I thought.'

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Walking poles formed a guard of honour for Sunny to walk through Credit: Sunny Huang
Sunny Huang walking through guard of honour on top of Pap of Glencoe

This weekend the transplant nurse at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary says she isn’t quite sure what to do with her time and might even have a touch of post-climbing blues. It was late October 2020 that she remembers her first climb for the Full House.

'It was the weekend we were due to change the clocks and I was at Glenmore Lodge for my first ascent and I did a Corbetts near Kingussie and that is how it all began,' she added.

'This has been my world and I’ve not had a weekend for two years, so I am not quite sure what I will do with myself. It does feel it a bit strange and flat.'

While she will be taking some time to recover, she is considering her next challenge which might involve a series of peaks in Europe or even Mount Kilimanjaro in 2025.

The mother-of-one, who has lived in Scotland for 18 years, raised money for international development charity Christian Aid and has so far raised £4000, a cause which is close to her heart.

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Credit: Sunny Huang
Sunny Huang with Scottish and Chinese flags

'Growing up in Liaoning Provence in China we had little money and I often went hungry, so raising money and awareness of the work of Christian Aid with communities living in extreme poverty is so important to me,' she added.

'I can remember days when I would be so hungry and now when I see food waste I find that very hard knowing what we went through.'

Sally Foster-Fulton, Head of Christian Aid Scotland was quick to congratulate Ms Huang. Mrs Foster-Fulton said: 'Back in 2015 Sunny took part in Christian Aid’s 70 Munro fundraising challenge and then went on to ‘bag’ all the Munros in 2017. Her latest challenge is incredible, and even more impressive as she’s fitted it around her busy shifts at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. We are grateful for Sunny’s commitment to raise money and awareness of our work with communities living in extreme poverty – including in Ethiopia, South Sudan and Afghanistan.'

You can still donate to Sunny's JustGiving page.

This article was originally written by Deborah Anderson, Assistant News Editor at The Herald Scotland, and this article appeared in The Herald Scotland on 8 October 2022.

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Sunny's JustGiving page

You can still donate to Sunny's JustGiving page and help her achieve her goal.