Wednesday, 20 May 2020

The TGO Challenge, pictures from the first two events and this year's "virtual" Challenge

Outside the Lochailort Inn about to start the first Challenge in 1980.

Since I wrote about the first TGO Challenge on May 8 I've located and scanned some of the photos from that trip and the 1981 Challenge. Back then I didn't take many photos - film was expensive and I didn't carry many rolls. I wish now that I'd taken many more!

A camp on the first Challenge. I'm not sure where! The tent is a Field & Trek Pathfinder.

Looking at my journal for the trip I see I wore stiff, heavy leather boots and slept on a 3mm piece of closed cell foam. I can't imagine doing either of those!

View from the Mamores over the Aonach Eagach to Bidein nam Bian

At the time of the first Challenge I was on my first round of the Munros and I used the walk to climb 56 new ones including the Mamores, Ben Alder, the A9 Munros, the Southern Cairngorms, and Mount Keen. That first Challenge was three weeks long so I had plenty of time to do this. No-one else took more than two weeks however and the event was shortened to that the next year. In 1981 I climbed 36 new Munros including the Ben Cruachan range, the Ben Starav hills, the Blackmount, the Beinn Dorain hills, the Ben Lawers range, and the Glen Lyon hills.

A camp on the second Challenge in 1981. I really have no idea where this is!

I stuck with a 3mm foam pad for the second Challenge so I must have slept okay on it. I changed the tent for a lighter weight Ultimate Solo Packer though and saved even more weight by not taking the inner. My boots were half the weight of 1980 too and much more flexible. I was learning! I also saved weight with my stove, taking a cartridge one (Alp S7000 - a long gone brand) rather than the efficient but heavy MSR GK petrol/paraffin stove I'd used the year before.

Somewhere on the second Challenge!

As the actual Challenge was cancelled due to the lockdown I've been sharing these and other photos from previous Challenges on social media, along with many others, after Challenge Co-ordinators Sue Oxley and Ali Ogden set off on a virtual Challenge and invited others to join them. People have retraced Challenges they've done and created new ones at home, often amusingly, with garden camps, ice axe climbs, wheelbarrow crossings of Loch Ness and more. Sue and Ali have written about the first week of the virtual Challenge on the TGO website. With 700 posts, 2,500 comments, 23,000 likes and 3,400 photos on Facebook alone in the first week this has been a successful event. Positive and joyful, it shows just how important the Challenge is to many of us.

Challenge camp, 1989


Photography notes.

The 1980 and 1981 photos were taken on Kodachrome 64 slide film. I digitised them by photographing them on a lightbox with my Sony a6000 camera and Sony E 30mm macros lens then processing them in Lightroom. I can see more detail on the digital images than in the original slides. The camera I used in 1980 was a fairly heavy and hefty Pentax S1a SLR with a 55mm lens. This was my first proper camera, bought second-hand. After it was stolen I replaced it, courtesy of the insurance, with a much lighter and smaller Pentax ME Super with 50mm lens. This came with me on the 1981 Challenge and for the first time I had a smaller camera as backup, a Rollei 35 35mm compact.

1989 Challengers

By 1989 I was taking photography much more seriously - my pictures were being published regularly in magazines and had appeared in my first book - and the weight of my camera gear went up. I now had a Nikon F801 SLR (which had the great advantage of a 30 second self-timer) and on the Challenge I also carried 28mm, 35-70mm, and 70-210mm lenses plus an Olympus XA compact as back-up. Film was Fujichrome 100.

Outside the Park Hotel, Montrose,at the end of the 1989 TGO Challenge



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