Whiteburn's Wanderings

One man's wanderings backpacking around Scotland plus the odd digression

TGOC 2013 Prologue

I’m not a magazine person so the first I first of heard of the TGO Challenge was when I ran into a Challenger in the Fords of Avon refuge in May 2012.  I was on a four day dawdle around the Cairngorms and had just trudged through the snow over Bynack More planning to stay in refuge that night before heading over Beinn a’Chaorainn.  It wasn’t much of a meeting just 15mins sharing the shelter while I got a brew going and he munched some trail mix before heading off to the Faindouran Bothy, it did make me a little inquisitive though.


The next day I was enjoying a late lunch and a brew in Bob Scott’s when a couple of Challengers entered with a food stash and tins of beer they’d secreted in the woods nearby.  They gave me their take on what the Challenge was all about, along with beer, and I must admit I think the seed was firmly planted.

Anyone needing any background about the Challenge should have a look here

Anyway after mulling it over during the summer I thought I’d give it a go, so come October the entry form was ‘posted’.  ‘Posted’ at our house consists of leaving the mail on the doorstep for ‘Postie’ to pickup, I was taken aback when over a week later a slightly damp envelope was found in the garden, only a few days before the closing date.  It got there on time but only just!

Then the wait………followed by the “I’m very sorry to inform you….unsuccessful” letter.  A few days later I found I was number 28 on the standby list, with past performance there was still an outside chance I’d still get a place.

I completed my planning for my chosen route Dornie to Stonehaven and filled in the Route Sheets, all ready!  I choose Stonehaven as a finish as it required the least amount of road walking to get to the coast, I hate walking on black top!  That done I started planning for the Cape Wrath Trail, there’s nothing like have a plan B.

As a side note I found the various past TGO Challenge blogs a very useful source of information for planning my route e.g. campsites, terrain, river crossing, etc.  I also picked up a lot of useful advice on lightweight equipment, good feedback on what gear worked and what didn’t; anyone looking towards reducing their pack weight could do a lot worse than taking a similar trawl through the internet.

My mood definitely lifted in late March when I was pleased to find out I had gained a place, through some unlucky person having to pull out, it looked as though Cape Wrath would have to wait.  Since I’d already prepared the prerequisite paperwork it only took a couple of hours to get it emailed, John Manning came back with “you beat the record by 5mins”, if I’d known he was counting I’m sure I could have knocked an hour off.   I became even happier when only 10 days later I got the comments from my vetter, “I am delighted to say that very little needs to be said”; well that bit was pretty painless.

I’d already decided upon my basic kit which was well tried & tested:

Base Kit – 6.53 kg

Rucksack, MLD Exodus + Polythene rucksack liner – 680 g

Bits and bobs – map, compass, GPS, iphone, toiletries, 1st aid, trowel, etc – 1070 g

MLD Trailstar + pegs + Bear Paws Nest – 1150 g

3mm EVA foam footprint – 140 g

Alpkit Pipedream 400 – 770 g

Exped Synmat 7UL – 470 g

MSR micro rocket + windscreen + stand + gas container – 300 g

Evernew 1L Pasta pot + cosy + cup + spoon – 225 g

Montane Slipstream smock – 90 g

Marmot PreCip jacket – 370 g

Berghaus Paclite over trousers – 200 g

Terra Nova Over mitts – 75 g

Spare base layer – 280g

Rab Generator Smock – 380g

Down bootees – 100g

Buff, gloves, hat, socks – 340 g

Consumables – 5.03 kg

Water – 500 g

Gas – 230 g

Food – 4300 g (initial supplies)

Breakfast – Granola + milk powder; Bolero drinks powders; Coffee

Lunch – Oat cakes; chorizo; primula; cereal bar; snicker bar; trail mix

Dinner – Soup; dehydrated meal (home made); coffee + left over lunch snacks.

All that remained was to wait and watch the vagaries’ of the Scottish weather for the next month while pondering equipment tweaks; crampons + axe, DEET + sun hat, wet suit + snorkel, packraft, etc.

In the couple of weeks before the kick off I did go out and buy a pair of Katoola microspikes as they were half the weight of my walking crampons and it looked as though I’d probably need spiky things.  As it turned out the weather took a turn for the better; the spiky things were left at home and the Terroc 330’s replaced the boots.  The only additional piece of gear I packed was my trusty umbrella, Euroschirm Liteflex, at 200g it proved worth the weigh on my Southern Upland Way trip in 2012.

The last week seemed to go in a flash by and I really only relaxed when I finally was on the train to Inverness.  I even forgot to pack a book for the journey so it was quite a boring trip over to Kyle of Lochalsh just staring out into the rain.  It got worse, standing around for half an hour in the rain waiting for the bus to Dornie and then the short walk to the hotel, in the rain, the umbrella was coming in handy already.

The Challenge is pretty well known for its camaraderie but I felt a little disappointed on that front, almost everyone else starting from Dornie had set off the day before.  There was three supposed to start with me the next day, one was a no show and the other two decided to steal a march and set off a day early, I had the hotel to myself.  The bar was also dead, only two others joined me for dinner, so after a couple of pints I had an early night.


One comment on “TGOC 2013 Prologue

  1. Pingback: TGO Challenge 2013. A list of blogs « Daunerin' Aboot

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This entry was posted on October 6, 2013 by in TGO Challenge 2013, Trip Reports and tagged , .

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