Friday 11 May 2012

TGO Challenge 2012

Camp in Glen Quoich on the TGO Challenge 2009

In just over eight hours I'll be heading to Torridon in the Northwest Highlands for the start of the 33rd TGO Challenge backpacking hike across the Scottish Highlands. It'll be my 14th Challenge and my first since 2009. This year my route wanders over the Achnashellach, Strathfarrar, Mullardoch and Glen Affric hills to my first resupply point at Fort Augustus. I'll need six days supplies for this section but after that I'll not need more than three days worth at a time as I cross the Monadh Liath to Newtonmore and Kingussie and then the Cairngorms to Braemar and Ballater with a finish over Mount Keen and Mount Battock to Stonehaven.

There are 33 Munros on the route plus a handful of lower hills. How many of these I actually climb will depend largely on the weather. And the forecast is not good. Tomorrow the current stormy weather is meant to slowly clear, giving a fine afternoon and evening, which is when I'll be walking. Saturday looks good too. Then it all changes. On Sunday heavy rain and winds gusting to 80mph at 900 metres are forecast and the storms are predicted to continue through the next few days. On the summits the rain could be snow. And after that? The long range forecast is for more storms. Long range forecasts are notoriously unreliable. I am really hoping this one lives up to that.

The forecast is for it to be unseasonably cold too. With that plus the rain, snow and wind in mind I've modified my inital gear list, adding a warmer insulated jacket, a heavier waterproof jacket, long johns, overmitts, a second pair of spare socks. That's added a kilo or so to my load. With the initial six days supplies it's quite heavy at 18kg, including my cameras and tripod. I had hoped to carry less but I also don't want to be cold or wet. Balancing comfort with weight is part of the skill of backpacking.

I'll be reporting in TGO on the gear I use. Interesting items include the Mountain Laurel Designs silnylon Trailstar tarp with OookWorks OookTub groundsheet, Berghaus Mount Asgard Hybrid water-resistant down/Primaloft jacket and Westcomb Apoc Neoshell jacket. My pack is the old-style GoLite Quest and my stove the Trail Designs Caldera Ti-Tri, both veterans of my Pacific Northwest Trail hike. I don't think I'll be using wood as fuel that often on this trip though.

Now there's just time for some sleep before I leave. If I can get a connection and have time I may post during the walk. Otherwise I'll let you know how it went when I return.


  1. Hi Chris, Your journey ahead sounds fantastic (except for the 18kg pack!). And the weather, we isn't it great that it's so unpredictable? It adds to the adventure and if it's stormy, you'll appreciate the milder weather all the more. Good luck and have a great time.

  2. Good luck Chris! I'll look forward to the write-up...

  3. Hope you have a good walk, Chris. The weather forecast is looking pretty rubbish at the moment, isn't it, but I hope it improves later next week.

  4. As I look out at the blustery wind driving rain across the garden, I'm glad to be in the warm and dry after a good walk yesterday (Saturday). However, there's a certain satisfaction to retaining one's equilibrium whilst travelling through rough weather. That said, I hope that the forescasters are wrong and you don't have to survive too many discomforts.

  5. I love this blog and i love to go for camping.