Peter Chingos stands at the summit of his first Munro on October 5, 1994. Contributed / Sarah Chingos

It was October 1994 when 28-year-old Peter Chingos, clad in rain gear and toting a heavy pack, bested rock and fog to summit Ben More, the tallest of the hills neighboring the Scottish village of Crianlarich

The 6.2-mile climb took only a few hours for Chingos, an accomplished hiker. But the journey it sparked persisted for decades.

Last month, after 21 trips across the Atlantic over nearly 28 years, Chingos, a Brunswick resident, became one of just a handful of Americans to complete the Scottish Munros, a collection of 282 mountains of at least 3,000 feet scattered across the Scottish Highlands.

Joined at the final summit by an assortment of 15 friends and family members, Chingos reflected on an adventure that stretches back half a lifetime, to the years before his marriage and the births of his children.

“It was really special to share that with friends and family,” he said of his final climb. “I think that will always stay with me.”

The “peak-bagging” bug caught Chingos at a young age. By age 16, he had climbed all 46 high peaks of the Adirondack Mountains in New York. Over the next decade, he added the 4,000-foot summits of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire to complete the “Northeast 111.”


But the Munros were a different beast. While New England hikes usually involve navigating maintained trails through the woods, the Scottish climbs are mostly wide open, with no trees to obstruct a hiker’s view of the summit — or protect them from the elements.

Armed with a guidebook from the Scottish Mountaineering Club and topographical maps, Chingos often mapped his own routes up the terrain, which could range from grassy to boggy to rocky. The ever-present threat of temperamental weather sometimes robbed him of stunning summit views, Chingos said, but the added challenge of rain, snow and fog just made the journey more rewarding.

“Part of the allure is the challenge of finding your own way,” he said. “You really need to know your stuff and be prepared to be able to climb these mountains.”

Some 7,000 hikers have completed all 282 Munros, according to the Scottish Mountaineering Club. The organization’s website lists only six Americans “compleators.”

While he completed more than half of the Munros solo, Chingos also climbed with friends and family, including his wife, Sarah.

The pair had been dating for only a few weeks when Chingos asked Sarah in April 1997 if she wanted to join him on his upcoming weeklong trip to Scotland, Sarah Chingos remembered. She turned him down but left the door open for the future.


“If it’s meant to be,” she remembers thinking, “I’ll be with you on your next trip.”

That trip came a year later – an early honeymoon before the couple’s August wedding. For three days, they hiked out of their camp at Lochan Fada, never setting eyes on another person or a manmade structure, Sarah Chingos said.

“I remember being up close to the summit and thinking, ‘Oh yeah, now I get this,’” she said. “It is breathtaking in its natural beauty, in its austerity and just the vast expanses of landscape.”

Peter Chingos (in red) stands with 15 friends and family members at the summit of his 282nd and final Munro on August 31, 2022. Contributed / Sarah Chingos

The birth of the couple’s son, Andrew, and their daughter, Margaret, put Chingos’ annual trips on hold for seven years. But after they got older, he resumed his quest, sometimes joined by Andrew.

On Aug. 31, he finally completed his journey surrounded by those who had supported him from his side and from afar.

“It was so magical,” Sarah Chingos said. “It was a glimpse for a lot of our friends and the people who have supported Peter over the years to really see what it is that we see and what Peter sees in the hiking. There’s nowhere on earth that he is happier than on a mountain in Scotland.”

With the Munros completed, Chingos said he’s excited to explore hiking in other parts of the world, including Greece. Yet as satisfying as his final 282nd summit was, he added he’s far from finished with the Highlands.

“I think I’ll continue hiking in Scotland,” he said. “It didn’t feel like the end.”

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