Wednesday, 28 December 2011

TGO Challenge 2012: Vetted

You know there might be trouble when your vetter emails your mates and says:

“Here's something to cheer you up a bit. John Manning sent me Al's Challenge route, I haven't stopped laughing for two days!”


Pete Goddard, aka “Mr Grumpy” did indeed receive our route for vetting. And a fine job he made of it too. A few days after sending our route in to John Manning, (the new TGO Challenge Co-ordinator), the Vetter’s comments winged their way back to me. Pete made a few comments that set me thinking about the route:

“Thanks for sending such an entertaining route – I have laughed my way through the first ten days thinking of you up to your oxters in bog!”

“I do have some concerns about your second and third days as you will have a first time Challenger with you. If you manage to average 2kph I think that you will be doing very well, especially remembering that you will have full packs and that Dave will be carrying all that extra wine & cheese. Seriously, both days could well extend to 12 hours of walking and from experience it is very easy to burn yourselves out by overdoing things early on.”

“I will admit that I have not walked the ridge but I have been along your FWA and would suggest that the FWA will take more time and possibly be more difficult than your chosen route”

“Last time I passed through Gairlochy there was no ice cream”

“I thought Beinn Dearg a horrible mountain but then I did need to erect the tent at lunch time in order to get enough shelter to light a stove, wet, windy, cold and very miserable!”

“Your FWA is not the best”

“Although I do not personally favour your FWA for 21st I am prepared to let this go forward as long as you understand the difficulties that might arise due to the extreme weather that can develop on the plateau.”

Okay, so these are the edited highlights but Mr Grumpy does have a point, here. Even knowing that our team has pretty good experience of backpacking in Scotland, he is letting us know, gently, that we have bitten of a big mouthful this time around. But, hey! That’s what this is about. It’s a Challenge that we have set ourselves. There are a couple of days where we can cut out some of the toughest bits but still leave an interesting route. He also gave some really handy advice that we have incorporated into the route, especially for our Foul Weather Alternatives.

The Vetters do a fantastic job and Pete has probably made our walk next year a far better stravaig. Cheers, fella!


  1. Sounds like a real corker of a route. Sometimes I feel glad I'm getting too old for such things!
    By the way Alan, after you'd been in sunny Austwick (where I used to live) you managed to keep very quiet about that wonderful old chapel with it's ghastly red roof and 17 solar panels. Just wondered if you preferred that to wind turbines?
    Just asking!

  2. How nice of them to let it go. They let go 80Y old's struggling to make it over a pass year on year. So nice to see when some breakout for a challenge up high its allowed.

  3. Old Gregorlach: I had no idea you had lived in Austwick, young fella m'lad!

    Hmmm. The red roof smothered in the big black glassy tiles doesn't look good does it? Especially knowing how inefficient they are, up north! The Feed in Tariff is the criminal thing with solar panels. Everyone else is paying more to subsidise the wealthy few with the panels: Bonkers!

    But, at least we don't end up with miles of new pylons and substations.

  4. Martin: Hello sunbeam! The thing is, if the vetters know who you are & what you have got away with in the past they are more lenient. This is because they know that if things did get shitty you would make sensible decisions and know how to look after yourself.
    I suppose we are all trying to avoid the helicopter ride, really.

    Our route is certainly interesting - a nice smattering of Munros, Corbetts and some really wild country too - definitely off-piste, with some long tiring days planned!

    You never know - it might always be my last chance, so my attitude is just to go for it.

  5. So I guess I can look forward to a scrutinous vetting session then - given that I have no challenge 'credit' rating.

    Better stick to the roads. ;-)

  6. Hi Carl: The vetters are amazingly helpful people. Who ever you have to look after you (for that's why they are there) they will give sound advice.

    Obviously they took a good look at the form you filled in as a first-timer when you applied so they can make a rough assessment of what you are used to to help them in their advice.

    If it's pretty obvious they are dealing with someone with bags of Scottish experience they are less concerned when they see a monster route plan than say a Scottish relative 'newbie'

    If you need help with anything don't forget you can always ask on the Message Board or you can always ask me.

  7. Sounds good.

    Peter knows that you will struggle ........ with your cheese and wine (BTW - where's 't party?)

    The role of Vetters cannot be understated. Peter even sent me comments by e-mail on one section of my route. And, he wasn't even my Vetter.

    Fingers crossed ... for a fantastic crossing in normal weather ..... not the stuff we got in May!

  8. The Vetters are all bloody fantastic.
    When I think of the no of route changes I sent to Alan Hardy the other year, and he still speaks to me! :)

  9. Gordon: The location of the Cheese & Wine Party has now been published on the Challenge Message Board.

    Mad'n'Bad: Young Mr Hardy (him with the mechanical robotic powered legs) is indeed a fine, patient Vetter. In fact, they all deserve medals, trying to decipher the hieroglyphics of the average Challenger's routesheet.

  10. Cheers Alan.

    I agree, I got an email from Colin Tock a month or so ago, completely unsolicited, following a post I put on the messageboard. He included great advice and info.

    Some of you will gather that I'm grateful for any advice whether it may be needed or not. If I have learned anything from my folks, it is never to look a gift horse in the mouth. Turning one's nose up to advice can easily serve to stem its flow, and then, when you might really need it...

    Anyway thanks to a pass from my good lady I'm off to stretch my legs for a few days in the Peak District next weekend. Will test a new bit of kit (for me).

    As if to back up what I have said, I went for a new, much lighter pack which seems to fit rather nicely, weighs sod all and nothing pokes me and its only 42 litres so I can't over pack it! For me, on first impressions, it beats the Jam that I tried hands down. We'll see how the trail finds it!

  11. Carl: Shiny new gear, eh? I remember Lord Elpus flashing the cash, back in the winter of '98, ready for his first Challenge and thinking to myself at the time "Here comes a 'ten-timer'"


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