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Friday, 22 September 2017

TGO Challenge 2018: The problem of team selection...

Ernest Henry Shackleton
Henry Cecil John Hunt
Christian John Storey Bonington

Three generations of inspirational British explorers. For chaps of a certain age, these names conjure up images of heroism and derring-do. Each have their rightful place in history as leaders of men that accomplished extraordinary feats. Whilst their names are part of our vocabulary, the names of their team members are less likely to be on the tip of the tongue. Who now remembers Burley, Wish, Shute, Jungle, Constant and Prone? Quite. Yet without these unsung heroes Shackleton, Hunt and Bonington would be obscure footnotes in the pages of British history.

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For each of the last twenty-three years I have been a team member in expeditions to cross, on foot, from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland: The Great Outdoors Challenge. Putting together a team that is able to place a man at the east coast is a tricky affair as I'm sure Ernest and John would testify, if they were still around. 

THE RANKLING-LA [CLICK TO ENLARGE]

Every year hordes of hopefuls apply for the limited number of places on the TGO Challenge. And who can blame them when there is the prospect of views like these; see above and below. Some prefer to take the Challenge on alone. Others pair up or travel in threes or fours. I've walked by myself, in pairs, threes and fours. This year we have opted for a tried and tested threesome, but not before a fair amount of soul-searching.

BEYOND THE RANKLING-LA [CLICK TO ENLARGE]




Other people are odd. They are very different indeed. Tiny foibles, that in the Axe and Compass after a few beers appear to be mere trifles, are enough for a fight to the death after two weeks in the empty quarter, as Gary Larson - the sole survivor of the Lewis and Clark expedition, was to discover. 


Once again, we've decided to throw our caps into the ring and have applied for next year's Great Outdoors Challenge. Which brings me neatly to the matter of our own team selection. 

It's important that prospective team members are of good character and sociable. This results in a well functioning team, a cohesive unit. I decided to search my extensive archives, including my little black book of people who have pissed me off, the inter-web and as many Criminal Records Office files that I could hack, until my unfortunate discovery, to track down the sordid details of each our team members. 

The first chap, referred to here as 'me,' appears to be a saintly soul, a Grandfather and all round good egg. An extensive search produced just three photographs that cover this adventurer's lifespan. Yes. He definitely gets a place in the team.

ME, SGURR NAN COIREACHAN, 2010 [CLICK TO ENLARGE]

ME, THE PENNINE WAY, 1976 [CLICK TO ENLARGE]

ME, CIRCA 1964, BRACKNELL CHURCH HALL 

I had a great deal of difficulty tracking down the details of the next member of our team - a certain Lord Elpus of Lord Elpus Hall. He has obviously spent a great deal of time cleaning up his murky presence on the worldwide-web. Just when I thought I had found something this was the usual result:


However, the scoundrel had forgotten about the Wayback Machine which produced these honeys.

LORD ELPUS, 2001, ANNAPURNA SANCTUARY

LORD ELPUS, CIRCA 1953, CAMP III, RUM DOODLE




LORD ELPUS - RECENT PICTURE, YORKSHIRE

From the little detail available it appears the character is ageless. His name has been linked to Brink's-Mat, and the Great Train Robbery. They say the true mastermind of those heists was never found. The only clue to his whereabouts is a ferocious black cat the size of a baby seal, colloquially referred to as 'Doodle.' 

I had, however, no difficulty at all in finding the low-down (and dirty) of our third man on the rope. Stories and images of Mad'n'Bad appear across time and space. It is said his image is being carried on Voyager 1, now some thirteen billion miles from earth. Fortunately NASA declined to take a recording of his electric guitar solos, preferring instead to take Chuck Berry and Bach. 

MAD'N'BAD, NORTH WALL RUM DOODLE, 2010

MAD'N'BAD. COULD BE ANYWHERE, REALLY...

MAD'N'BAD. HE HAS A WEAKNESS FOR THE BLACK STUFF.

What can I say? This chap has a record of broken legs, helicopter rescues, walking companions carried away, sobbing or threatening murder. And yet...

And yet we love the rascal to death. He's promised, should we gain a place, to put rubber stoppers on the points of his flailing walking poles and to walk in a polite line on the correct side of the road, facing oncoming traffic. He has promised not to stand with his hands on his hips and harrumph loudly at a distance of a mile further ahead. He has promised to carry a rucsac full of sloe gin and life-saving cans of beer.

There you have it. I give you our team. No one in their right minds would pay for them. We're good to go.    

And if Christian John Storey Bonington is reading this and would like to tag along, I'm sure he would be most welcomeWe could do with a decent leader...

30 comments:

  1. Now that's a team worthy of a challenge, yes, to see if your livers make it across.

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    1. Liver?
      Did someone mention liver? Are there onions and is there bacon and gravy top go with that? A bit peckish at the moment...

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  2. Mad 'n Bad has always been a sucker for those small ads. :-)

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    1. Superb, Sir!
      I was a tad nervous before clicking on your wonderful link; I thought it might be another table dancing emporium, like the one in Euston where he spent two weeks in May 2011...

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    2. I suppose Andy is *too* old to be working in leathershop (last ad) :-))))

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    3. Andrew is a charitable sort. I believe he still volunteers in that particular emporium two days a week. The man is selfless.

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  3. You would be ok with Bonnigton a master of logistics , and Shackleton, the consummate leader of men, but I'm not so sure about Hunt - I remember my father reading The Ascent of Everest, and awarding it the accolade of his most boring read ever. The title hardly promised much in the way of imagination or literary aptitude. You could leave Hunt at home and telephone for advice on the rare occasions that you have a signal, or take the book so you could read a few pages to get you off to sleep each night?

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    1. Now here's a thing.
      My Dad had a rather fine library of books, one of which was a hardback book-club Ascent of Everest. As a young lad I read it cover to cover two or three times. The photographs and detailed text transported me there. The details of the logistics, the development of the clothing and equipment for the expedition was solid gold!
      No Sir. I cannot agree with your father's take on the book. I was riveted by it!
      :-)
      Dad also had King Solomon's Mines and Reach for the Sky - perfect for a young lad set on adventure!

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    2. Apologies for introducing a more serious note to this humorous and enjoyably post.

      Both King Solomon’s Mines and Reach for the Sky were devoured with relish when I was about sixteen.

      I think somebody who is an active outdoory with a predilection for mountains and climbing would be more interested in Hunt’s book from a technical aspect, whereas others may well be bored with it, BUT…
      It is worth reading "Everest, the first Ascent" by Harriet Tuckey, daughter of Griffith Pugh, a member of the successful Everest team. Pugh, who according to his daughter was an awful father, was responsible for much research and innovation which made a massive contribution to the outcome, but he was a loner, and not liked by others on the team, and in particular never got much credit for his work, especially from Hunt, who at best, it seems, either declined to acknowledge Pugh’s input, and at worst claimed the credit for himself.

      I did a post about all this which you may like to look back on.

      http://conradwalks.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=pugh

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    3. Thanks for that, Conrad. I remember reading your post and it has now reminded me to seek out E,tfA.
      :-)

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  4. This is Deeply Unpleasant. I was just about to settle down with a bottle of warm Mateus Rosรฉ and a Ready-Wrap Coronation Chicken © when your squalid little post caught my good eye. Have some restraint, Sir! There are decent women and children who deserve better than this. Binder and Prone would certainly set you to rights. The "images" of Lord Elpus and Mad 'n' Bad are truly shocking. Alas, I must, reluctantly wish you well in your endeavour, if only for the friendship that you and your band of nee'er'do-wells and scofflaws have shown in the past. The Challenge is a big tent - but we can do without condensation . . .

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    1. I would stay off the Mateus Rose and stick to Blue Nun or Hirondelle - accompanied by Beef Wellington and Baked Alaska, Sir.

      I have it on good authority that Binder, had he the internet at the time, would have trawled all night long for images of Prone's wife and the many problems of their relationship. The man was caring beyond belief.

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  5. Will you be using dogs and sledges if there's good snow cover?

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    1. Awkward one this, Gibson, as dogs are not allowed on the Challenge. However there's no mention of ponies in the rules...

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    2. Be wary of taking ponies, Alan. Remember what happened to Scott.

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    3. Cap'n Bob made the dreadful mistake of having a destination that was only halfway through his journey, which I have always thought was a bit odd.
      I thought Ed Hillary had the right idea - he went to the Pole in a tractor. Is there anything in the rules about tractors?

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    4. Not that I recall. Might be a bit tricky getting one over a deer fence.

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    5. With Lord E on point and his predilection for Bavarian War Machines, he would smash through those iron curtains. With just the addition of a gun turret he could also take out all those flailing steel triffids!
      Sounds like a plan to me.

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  6. What a team.. What a team.. ☺
    Oh dear God, What a team ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜จ

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    1. You may well need the services of the Good Lord if you arrive at Euston Station without those rubber pole-tips!
      :-)

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    2. One sure way to make me intentionally forget them is to tell me I have to bring them. :-)
      Schism so soon :-) ;-) :-D

      Lucky for you, they live on the poles..

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  7. Oui mon vieux. C'est les Trois Mousquetaires, bien sรปr!

    Porthos (who lies a drink) Athos (with the bright headgear) and Aramis (the fragrant one). ๐Ÿ˜

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    1. Interesting.
      As you know, Sweetpants, I always take Chanel to wear in bed.
      ;-)

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  8. ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ I am not worthy to comment on this, having never undertaken said Challenge...yet. But, should I happen to see you in Montroseshire, I may share my thoughts then.

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    1. I rather suspect your light is being hidden under a whole heap of bushels, Geoffrey. I look forward to discussing your thoughts over a few light ales in the Park Hotel, Sir.
      :-)

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  9. Good show. The countdown clock is restored, beery chaps are commended, and neither cads nor bounders in sight. Tracey from Bolton sends her regards.

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    1. I was a trifle tardy in erecting the new countdown clock this year, James. But order has now been re-established so all is well with the world once again.
      Now then. You've been an admirer of all things Challenge for quite some time. You do realise that you still have plenty of time to put your application in for the Challenge in 2018? You have until the 28th of October. Go on, Sir. You know you want to...

      And many thanks for looking after Tracey for me. As you will have now realised, the girl is incredibly demanding. It makes for an easier life if you just lie back and submit to her insatiable demands.

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    2. Indeed. But it's the weather Alan, there's just too much of it. I'll send Tracey back to you when I can't take it any more. Won't be long now.

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  10. Amazing picture SGURR NAN COIREACHAN, 2010

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    1. Hi Stef, and thank you, Sir.
      Are you entering for 2018?
      :-)

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