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Thread: GR20

  1. #1
    Goon JH's Avatar
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    Loved the GR20 articles. The feeling that you were really enjoying yourselves comes across. I want to enjoy myself too. A couple of questions:

    It looks really hot when you did it, what would be the best time of year?

    Is the walk best done north to south, can it be done the other way? Sun behind instead of in eyes.

    My French is almost non existent, should I find a French speaking companion?

    Chris said "My sleeping bag was the 450g Western Mountaineering Highlite, the lightest down bag I know". How about the PHD Piqolo? I seem to remember TGO bemoaning British manufacurers for not making lightweight kit.........

  2. #2
    ‹bermensch Andy Howell's Avatar
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    The heat is a consideration but shouldn't be too much of a problem if you plan things properly. Single things make all the difference.

    * Start early in the morning. It is always good to get a couple of hours walking before the sun really gets going.

    * You should probably wear a good pair of sunglasses - then it won't matter in which direction you walk! (Your eyes will be battered without them).

    * Give yourself time for regular stops, I always find that a five minute break - when walking in real heat - makes a real difference,

    * Remember to drink regularly

    * Carry a good sun hat (something like the wonderful Tilly Har - even if it does look a little strange).

    Simple rules but very effective. And they don't cost much either.

  3. #3
    ‹bermensch Chris Townsend's Avatar
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    JH, I put in "the lightest down bag I know" because I don't know everything! I wasn't aware of the Piqolo. Thanks for pointing it out.

    We went in late June/early July, which is cooler than later in the summer. You could go earlier but might have to deal with late lying snow high up. Corsica had an early heat wave this year. We arrived at the end of it and the hottest weather was during the first four days.

    As Andy says a good sun hat and dark glasses (if you like them - I wore mine a fair bit, Cameron had none) are a good idea. Plenty of water is essential. In places water sources are far apart so several litres should be carried.

    Many people set off very early, even before dawn, as Andy suggests. We didn't because we wanted to be out in the sun. Four Norwegians we met felt the same, saying they had come for the sun and could walk in the shade and in the cold in mountains back home. The heat was only really a problem on the first day.

    The walk could be done in either direction. I can't remember why we chose to go north to south now! The sun is so high in the sky that it wasn't a problem walking south.

    You don't need much French. Mine is very rusty, Cameron's a bit better but neither of us is anything like fluent. The people in the villages and huts along the way are used to trekkers who don't speak French.



    My French is almost non existent, should I find a French speaking companion?

  4. #4
    ‹bermensch Peewiglet's Avatar
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    I enjoyed the article very much - thanks!

    I'd like to have a go at this, but I'm afraid that it would probably be too vertiginous for me. By way of context, I found Crib Goch pretty scary, although I did do it, and even Striding Edge can give me the heeby jeebies unless I make a mental effort to calm down before I walk across it.

    Bearing that in mind, how do those of you who've done this walk think I might get on with it?

  5. #5
    ‹bermensch Chris Townsend's Avatar
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    Most of the walk is less exposed than Crib Goch or Striding Edge. The Cirque de la Solitude is more exposed despite the chains, which give you something to hold on to but don't negate the exposure. However it isn't difficult, you just need a good head for heights. Not having done much sustained scrambling for a few years I found the descent into the Cirque mentally challenging. I think if we'd gone south to north I'd have found it easier as I'd have had more time to get used to moving on steep exposed terrain.

    A good way to prepare for the GR20 would be to spend a week scrambling in the Cuillin.

  6. #6
    ‹bermensch Peewiglet's Avatar
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    Thanks, Chris. The Cuillin scrambling sounds like a good idea.

    Does anyone know whether there are any organised trips for that? I'm not a competent enough scrambler yet to go off and do it on my own.

  7. #7
    Ultra King MoS's Avatar
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    Peewiglet, have you seen the latest posts on the Future Scottish meets thread? Dave may be making Dubh Slab next weeks OM scrambling route with the possibility of some trying it on a Skye meet next year. Sounds absolutely terrifying to me, but so does Crib Goch or Striding Edge

    Looking forward to reading the article on GR20 though.

  8. #8
    ‹bermensch Peewiglet's Avatar
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    Ooh, thanks Elaine - I'll go and look

  9. #9
    Mini Goon
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    Oh, all those memories.
    I really, really enjoyed the article. It brought me back to 1996 when I undertook the GR20. My first hike ever. Had to borrow a backpack and a sleeping bag and bought my shoes less than two weeks before the start of the trip. Inexperienced as I was then, I could never have imagined that a multi day hike could be so hard. After the first day, I already wanted to stop but fortunately for me, my sister convinced me to take it day by day. Two weeks later, I entered Conca after a hard but fantastic trip. I can recommend it to everyone. And in a few years time I want to return to do it all over again. Aspecially after this article because much of Chris' and Cameron's story feels so familiar.

    From what I remember most people go from north to south, probably because most guide books describe it in that direction. Going from south to north should have the advantage that the climbs in the south are generaly not that hard, so you get some time to adapt.

    There are some exposed parts but certainly not impossible. I 've got a bit of a problem with heights myself and I felt perfectly fine 95% of the time.


  10. #10
    ‹bermensch Andy Howell's Avatar
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    I'm always fascinated by these people that set out before dawn. It all seems a bit excessive to me. After all, you tend to get to the other end very quickly.

    I also like walking in the warmth although it is nice to get a couple of hours in before the sun gets too strong. I always think about getting moving earlier than I do. But when you're trekking you kind of get into a routine of getting up and breaking camp quite quickly.

  11. #11
    ‹bermensch Peewiglet's Avatar
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    I'm very slow at packing up. Bearing in mind that I rarely have a hot breakfast, and often don't even make a hot drink, I'm never sure what's taking me so long. I very rarely get away in less than an hour.

  12. #12
    ‹bermensch Chris Townsend's Avatar
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    An hour sounds reasonable. I don't have a hot breakfast either and it takes me that long. And I'm still not fully awake.

  13. #13
    ‹bermensch Peewiglet's Avatar
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    I feel much better! I thought most people were up and away in less than half of that. Thanks :-)

  14. #14
    ‹bermensch Chris Townsend's Avatar
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    No, I'm the one at the end of the day who says "let's go on for another hour or so" or "let's climb another hill". I wake up as the day goes on.

    I've read in many books that you should get the bulk of the days walking over before lunch. It sounds good in theory but I'd never have done any long walks if I'd tried to follow it.

  15. #15
    ‹bermensch Andy Howell's Avatar
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    I reckon an hour for getting going is about right. After all, your there to enjoy the experience not to give yourself an army-like route-march experience.

    I do - though - like to get into the routine of getting up a little earlier than I would prefer. It gives me the opportunity to just do that bit more (as Chris said) towards the end of the day. And, of course, some days you seem to fly and others you really seem to struggle on and here the extra time can be a real bonus

  16. #16
    ‹bermensch Chris Townsend's Avatar
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    It depends on how much daylight there is. In June in the Highlands you can set off at midday and still have 11 hours of daylight walking. December you'd barely have four.

    It's dark by 7pm now and I'm aware that I'll need to start earlier, whether on backpacking trips or for day walks, if I want to have plenty of daylight and not too many descents in the dark (I always have some between October and March - all the way from Ben MacDui to Coire Cas in a storm last November after a very late start to go and look at some tents!).

  17. #17
    ‹bermensch Andy Howell's Avatar
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    I like that Chris. Finished looking at tents now, time to go and climb a hill!

  18. #18
    ‹bermensch Chris Townsend's Avatar
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    Actually, the tents were pitched just east of the summit of Ben MacDui, being tested by a company. I left Coire Cas to go and look at them about 2pm! We just got there in time to see them before it was too dark.

  19. #19
    Ultra King AT (http://AyrshireTiger.wordpress.com/)'s Avatar
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    Glad I'm not the only one - set off to do Ben Lui at 1.30pm in July from Cononish. Got to summit at around 4.30 but such a great day carried on and did the other three Munros - got back to the car at 10.30. Absolutely great knowing you're the only one out there!

  20. #20
    ‹bermensch Chris Townsend's Avatar
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    I've returned from Ben MacDui intentionally at dusk in good weather. The Cairngorm plateau is a wonderful place for watching the sunset, especially when snow covered. That's the only time I ski down the ski resort pistes - alone and in the dark!

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