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Foul weather alternatives

Word from the vetters is that a few – thankfully only a few - folk seem to regard FWAs as an inconvenience.

Please be assured, we want you to enjoy your Challenge crossing and have a ball. The FWAs, however, are a necessity and are requested out of regard for safety – they hopefully save you having to think on the hoof when the weather craps out and your main route becomes impossible.

Mr Grumpy put it very well on this very board just a few weeks ago:

"Low level routes (below about 500m) do not usually need an FWA. Please note however that some popular through-routes must have FWAs in place. The Lairig Ghru, Jock’s Road and Mount Keen all climb to around 900m at their summits and are not acceptable as FWAs; routes including these must also provide a FWA. Be aware also that while slightly lower routes such as the Corrieyairack Pass are acceptable as a main route or a FWA, foul weather can still render them impassable: common sense will have to be applied during the event."

I think the above is quite clear although some Challengers when reading it think that any day which rises above 500mt must have a FWA; this is not the case and this is not how I read it. When planning your route think how difficult or dangerous it could be at any height above sea level in heavy rain, high winds or in a blizzard. Then think would I want to be there in those conditions? Then think "do I need a FWA?" Then if you are not sure put one in. The routes that must have a FWA are listed above.

One of our seasoned Challengers explained to me that he plans his crossing on the assumption that the weather will be dire, and regards his main routes as a FINE weather alternative. That's a fine thought.

Please put the same thought into your FWAs as your main routes – they need sheet numbers, ascent and distance and overnight halts just like the main route.

Vetters will pick up on poor FWAs and routes will be returned for revision.

Monday's rant over… for now…

Re: Foul weather alternatives

Chill out, John.

It's only 300 odd folk crossing a vast open area in all sorts of weather conditions

But, if folk don't take FWAs seriously then they need to re-think what they are doing on the Challenge.

There you go - humour and rant-like observation in one go.

Re: Foul weather alternatives

It's OK to say "Chill out" but I have spent over 120 hours so far checking routes and if the route sheet is filled out correctly each one will usually take me about 3 to 4 hours. If I have to send it back for correction it can obviously take much more time looking through the revisions. Why do I bother? Over many years I have had an awful lot of enjoyment from taking part in the Challenge and I want to put something back. The least I expect from those entering the event is for them to actually read the Challenge notes and apply the very few rules mentioned before sending in their routes.

Re: Foul weather alternatives

Hey, Mr Grumpy - no offence, I am on your side with this one.

Hence, the tone of my post - which may, or may not have come across as intended.

If people can't be aarsed to take the FWA's seriously, then they should think twice about taking part on the Challenge.

Those of us who were forced to take FWAs around our FWAs last year know only to well the value of having contingency plans for all conditions.

I'm sure, like me, the vast majority of folk fully appreciate the roll of a Vetter. I'm totally amazed at the wealth of knowledge and experience that Vetters - as a group have at their grasp. And I have nothing for respect and thanks for the time that is put in for us mere mortals.

I guess I'll have to buy you a pint in Torridon

Or, if you prefer a pint of beer

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Sorry Gordon; I am afraid that I did take your post the wrong way, I should have known better. I'll remember to get out of bed on the other side tomorrow!

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I really think you should squeeze at least a pint off him now Pete.
I mean it was offered.

Re: Foul weather alternatives

I completely agree with Mr Grumpy and Colin's observations. For me each Challenge is an entirely new adventure, and although my own routes are modest I have always received invaluable comments regarding FWAs.

In essence, although our specific Challenge routes should be entirely of our own making, we owe ourselves a duty of care - and this is where the vetters' experience comes into play. The Challenge is not an exercise in machismo - nor is it a jolly predicated on technology at the expense of a rigorous understanding of conventional map-reading and hill-knowledge. Our vetters have a wealth of experience, and they have our safety at heart.

A reasoned FWA shows that you have a full understanding of your route and that you have taken the time to recognise alternatives. It's not about losing/winning. It's about your journey and your safety. And a FWA isn't second-best - it's a wonderful alternative and a joy in itself!

Re: Foul weather alternatives

I don't want Gordon to have a heart attack as my tipple is Highland Park and a pint may be a bit beyond his means!

Re: Foul weather alternatives

I really feel that I must fully support the comments of my fellow vetter, Mr. Grumpy regarding FWAs. In all the years that I have been vetting I can only recall bouncing back routes on 2 possibly three occasions yet this year so far I have returned at least five to the Coordinator mainly for the reason of FWA considerations and its only half way through the vetting season. Mr. Grumpy surely posted as succint a definition of what a FWA is and the basic thinking behind it in his Message Board post of 10th. of January and reproduced this morning by John Manning.

Today I am just about to bounce back two more routes to John where FWA requirements have either been ignored as not "being required" by the applicant, simply missing or FWAs supplied that are clearly mentioned as unacceptable in the planning notes. Whatever your views on FWAs are it is at least a courtesy to comply with the very basic "rules" required by the Challenge "management" and in some cases, not to be seen as pushing such rules as far as you think you can get away with.

Again, surely it is not rocket science to have something simple, straightforward and doable up your sleeve when it all goes for a can of worms- is this not simple self-preservation? And yet even very experienced Challengers who have seen it and done it and who have experienced what May weather can be like up here are as guilty as everyone else. As old Grumpy says, we vetters are volunteers and all do the job simply to put something back into the event and although we might be perceived as, generally,aging possibly conservative fuddy-duddy old fa..s and possibly past our best on the hill. we have all been there and done it and where we haven't someone within the vetting team certainly will have and we regularly take guidance from each other. And although we vetters are far from encyclopaedic I see my role as a vetter to try and enhance safety on the Challenge when and where I can but it is entirely up to the individual Challenger how to take on board any suggestions given. I for one would not want to be criticed for withholding any information which might have prevented an accident, God forbid, but that said that requires the individual Challenger to give us as much information as possible in order for us to help in the first place.

That ancient North Sea helicopter industry proverb PPPPPPP - P..s Poor Planning Produces P..s Poor Performance might equally be at home in Challenge planning.....?


Re: Foul weather alternatives

I'm with the experienced vetters over the importance of a FWA - who wouldn't be? But my outlook is that this second route is not just for rubbish weather - it is also for emergencies, kit failure, injuries etc and invaluable in terms of 'ground appreciation' so one can find escape routes from the 'good weather route' if required. Sorting out the safest way down/through is an art in itself, and I've also enjoyed the challenge of trying to link a FWA back to the planned primary route without too much diversion over the next day or so - as this is seldom straightforward, perhaps this is why FWAs haven't been so well addressed?

By the way CJ - the RAF version of all the Ps is 'Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents P!ss Poor Performance - Perhaps!'

Jules E

Re: Foul weather alternatives

Highland Park, Mr Grumpy?

A fine tipple.

You are right, of course, it may well give me a heart attack if I had to stand you a pint of Highland Park.

But, and I have it on good authority, Andrew will also be in Torridon, and he is a man of means.

You can easily recognise him - he's the one with loads of money, buying rounds like they are going out of fashion. And, amazingly he will not let anyone in with a chance of buying him a round back.

That's what I call a really good man.

Rumour has it, too, that he managed, with aid, to submit a reasonable FWA ............. but, we'll not go into that one again.

Re: Foul weather alternatives

Andrew and his magic wallet will in fact begin his challenge on a Calmac ferry heading west - yes west with two thirsty hangers-on.

Re: Foul weather alternatives

Of course, Phil.

I knew we were getting the O/N sleeper on Wednesday 8 May - and my mind forgot that Andrew was going to Oban. Rumour has it that he will be in the Bree Louise beforehand - buying drinks all round for all and sundry. What a good fellow.

He'll no doubt call into the Pierhead Hotel to flash the cash too - what a fine soul he has.

But, the good news for Mr. Grumpy is that Andrew is a hardy soul and will get to Montrose for sure.

He can be recognised as he will be the one with loads of money, standing drinks all round at the Park.

What a gentleman!!

Re: Foul weather alternatives

It would be very helpful if you could post Andrew's room number on the notice board at Control as then we would not have to bother him when buying drinks on his account!

Re: Foul weather alternatives

Didn't know the scullery had a number…

Re: Foul weather alternatives

Why do I suddenly feel like a victim?

Luckily I have not got a room at the Park.
But I believe that Phil does... Just sayin.

We will publish that particular room no at a later date.

Re: Foul weather alternatives

What do you mean Andrew? As I read it everyone is saying that you are a nice generous chap. I can't wait till May to find out how right they are.

Ian C.