So..I have a place on next years TGO Challenge!!
Over the last few weeks I’ve been refining the kit list and working on the route. I’m fairly happy with the kit I’m taking as its pretty much the kit I’ve used over the last few years with a few minor tweaks and additions for the longer duration (spare clothes/socks etc). There are a few items I’ll decide on in the week before I set off e.g. Ice Axe and Crampons being the most significant. It’ll be a tough decision depending on the snow conditions. The route dones’t include very much time contingency, so high sections are limited to specific days and therefore very weather dependant. So it’s entirely possible I’ll carry the extra 1-2kgs in axe and crampons to summit only a couple of munros (if any!). So I’ll only take them if the forecast looks favourable.
My route is a high one (15,000m accent over 355km) with ~18 Munros and ~22 subsidiary tops. Planning the high sections and joining up Munros is easy, the tricky thing is planning the foul weather alternatives (FWA’s) which are required for each day that has sections above 800m. There are a few other rules for FWA’s but in general they are needed for pathless, exposed, high sections (800m+) or routes that cross specific locations identified by the organisers, such as the Lairig Ghru, Fords of Avon, Jocks Road, amongst others.
I’ve managed to create a route that has some great summits, ticks off a few Munros, includes great FWA’s and visits the social hotspots. Neglecting the FWA’s could result in a disappointing route should the weather mandate their use, therefore I’ve spent a lot of time working out a low level route I’d be happy to complete should the summits be out of reach. The social hubs are probably more important to me given it’s my first crossing, usually I enjoy the solitude of hiking over a few days, but a 14 day adventure does require some social interaction.
Below is my route as it stands, there are still a few options to decide on e.g. Glen Afric vs 5 Sisters of Kintail, I’ll make a decision over the Christmas holidays and get the route card submitted for vetting. Everything else is pretty much sorted, trains, planes and B&B’s are booked. The only accommodation I’m planning to use is one night in Plockton followed by a night in the Tipsy Laird in Kingussie on night 6, then two nights in Montrose at the end, the rest are wild camps and the occasional bothy. The last thing will be to post my fuel up to the Plockton post office the week before I set off. Getting there is a challenge in it’s own right, train from Derby to Birmingham, flight to Inverness, train to Plockton…walk…a lot…train from Montrose to Aberdeen, flight to Birmingham, train to Derby…job done.
The below route in blue is the main route, pink sections are the FWA’s and the green sections are an option I’m considering:
I’ll post my vetters feedback when I receive it along with the final route and route card. Nearer the time I’ll also setup a page on my site that will be tracking my crossing in real time from my Spot tracker.