Tuesday, 26 October 2010

2003: Binder's Beginnings

I am sure that everyone has a little bit of Binder in them. No – honestly – I am sure that everybody indeed recognises in themselves just a little bit of Binder, buried just beneath the surface.
Well, perhaps not everyone... I, on the other hand, have recognised Binder’s shadow falling across my person for a number of years.
I first noticed his arrival back in 2003 on one of our PreWalkDaunders. Rich (Wish), Oli (Burley) Phil, (Jungle) Bob, (Constant) and I arrived at Tulloch Station on the Sleeper from Euston a little worse for wear. A swimming pool of supplies had been consumed the night before and a very tired and emotional party alighted from the train.
The Porters were nowhere to be seen. We set off towards Tom Mor at a deliberate pace having to carry our own packs. This was not what the team had signed up for. Within a few hundred yards of setting off, I noticed that my left tight-clad leg was sopping wet. A quick check revealed that I was covered in what appeared to be blood! A closer inspection revealed it to be red wine. In an effort to reduce the packweight I had removed the 3 litre red wine bladder from the wine box and carefully stowed the flollopy silver bag in the side mesh pocket. This bag had obviously now punctured and the supplies were draining down my leg.
How on earth had this happened? The team were quiet.
There was nothing for it but to drain the supplies down right there and then. So, at about breakfast-time, the five of us were to be found leaning against a five bar gate, polishing off the three litres of red. The team triumphed. The selection of team members had obviously been sound as everyone mucked in and dealt with what otherwise would surely have been a disaster.

Burley, Wish, Jungle & ConstantBurley, Wish, Constant & Jungle

Base Camp was eventually reached in Glen Turret as the team were just about all-in. It had been a hard day with the team going High. In a tremendous effort to reduce the team’s heavy burdens, Burley, Wish and Jungle heroically made inroads into the weighty supplies stowed amongst the teams’ baggage.

I tried to rest that night but sharing my Nallo with Burley’s bulk and strenuous snoring, sleep was hard to come by. Packing, bleary-eyed, the next morning our day’s plan was discussed amongst the team. We were to clamber over the eastern col into Glen Gloy and make for the supply dump left by a previous expedition, led by Tom & Eddie. We had the grid reference and description of the cache, suspended from an “obvious” tree on the corner of a forest just a few miles from before our day’s objective, Camp One.
Our handpicked team was built from the titans of the outdoor world. Burley, Wish and Jungle decided that the expedition should go High once more, eschewing the planned route down the valley to Torness and take in Druim Ghlaoidh. The noble trio took off up the terrifyingly steep flanks of the glen. Constant and I continued on the safer route to recover the supply cache and we wondered if we would ever see them again.
We did indeed find the cache – it comprised another three litres of tempranillo, huge slabs of chocolate and a magnificent Cashel Blue. The fate of the expedition was now safe.
Constant & I made our way to Torness – our Camp One – and waited for the arrival of the summit party. Constant erected his one man shelter whilst I waited for Burley’s arrival. Burley had our Nallo and so I waited patiently, sat at Constant’s door in the darkening evening which was getting colder every minute. We agreed that we should shoulder our burden and reduce the level of the supplies. Great inroads were made.
We decided to text the Summit party using the mobile telephones brought for just this purpose. I tapped out my message: “ETA? Over”
Within moments, my telephone chirped a reply: “250913. Over”
Neither Constant nor I understood this reply. Worried for the Summit Paty’s safety, we tried again. “Have found supplies: What is your ETA? Over”
“Red Cuillin discovered. 250913 Over”
We scratched our heads. Surely they must be delirious. The Red Cuillin were another three days march to the west. Burley may have been a strongman but he was young and could fall to lassitude if overstretched. Another, last, desperate text was sent to try to ascertain their condition and position prior to sending out a search party: “Is Burley well? Give Position and Conditon please. Over!”
“Burley leaning badly. Legs gone. Speech slurred. Position 250913. Over”
250913. I clutched at the expedition maps. 250913. The grid reference for the Letterfinlay Hotel. The summit party were 12km away, stranded in the hotel.
They must surely have had a terrible night in cramped quarters as just before midnight a Jaguar arrived at the campsite delivering the Nallo so I could at last take some rest in the warmth and safety of my shelter. They had selflessly arranged for porters, with whom they had shared their new found supplies, to deliver poor Burley’s shelter to me. The poor lads of the summit party were no doubt facing appalling privations that night…


  1. Brilliant Alan.
    Having discovered the Red Cuillin who could blame them for going awol.

  2. Now you've sent me scuttling to Amazon to find a copy of the original book........thanks for that!

  3. I have indeed been involved in a similar incident but it was us that were hotel bound after a day in the Cuillin!

  4. Alan: The summit party were very fortunate that night in finding refuge. I understand that it was a very difficult night for them. They certainly looked shattered when the taxi finally delivered them to Camp One in the morning. The Cuillins must have taken it out of them.

    Laura: It is a fine read. Don't read it on trains. You will be taken away in one of those nice white suits with the foldy arms round the back.

    Alistair: I trust you survived the night and were safely reunited with your Binder in the morning. he would have been worried about you.

  5. Appalling privations indeed - at 23:34 hrs we ran out of Champagne!

    Thus taking a taxi the next day was excused by the consequent medical emergency. After conquering the Red Cuillin Burley swiftly lapsed into Lochy Lassitude.

    Clearly an early morning forced march was beyond the poor chap's capabilities, so our arrival at base camp in a taxi driven by a suicide blonde ('wi' these wee pills pal, I can drive 48 hour shifts') was purely out of concern for our teammate's well being.

    ... that, and the fact that she had a satnav ...


  6. With those names you lot sound like the Expendables (apologies if you haven't seen the film).
    Red Wine - phew, it's a wonder you can climb hills at all!.
    Never get separated from the man with the tent...

  7. Hi Geoff: Red Wine is like rocket fuel... for a while... Then all you need to do is refuel.

    Wise words indeed: Never ever share a tent that you are not carrying.

  8. Blimey! Paul and I will have to step our game up - we're carrying rations in comparison!


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