I see there is a lot talk of challenging weather this year on the Great Outdoor Challenge. I am saying it was an average weather month. Nothing more. In fact, a bit wetter in places, but not bad. But some see it as bad and terrible. Talk of not doing the Challenge in May due to the weather. Really. Was it so bad?
Bob Cartwright and myself had a chat and a wee dram kindly provided by Bob. He talked about perceptions, and I agree. How being tired, footsore and the like will effect your perception. Experience of having been out in crap weather too and having to deal with it, matters. Loneliness and many more factors apply. But the weather is what it is. How one perceives it and another can be completely different.
Put it this way. I have walked in Scotland a few times in May on TGOC and non-TGOC walks. In 2004 I did a coast-to-coast at the end of May and we got soaked at times. But it was a good walk still.
I did my Ben to Ben walk years back and summited Ben Nevis in the snow in the first week of June. The Cairngorm summits had deep snow in places. Nothing new there.
I have done backpacking trips in the Cairngorms in May and had storms, then sunshine and then been bloody freezing, all in the same day.
In 2006 on the TGOC it snowed, it rained and we had to walk down a road at one point wrapped up in warm down jackets as it was so cold.
I walked over a snow-covered Ben Nevis on the 2007 Challenge and had rain for days on, mid-way on the walk. Strong winds and good weather at times too.
2011 I had torrential rain, strong winds, snow and a hurricane. So to me, this year's event was a decent weather experience. Perception was, a bit cold at times. A constant cold wind and that was it. The recent snow melt made the west wet under foot. But so what.
All this talk of moving the event time and it not being worth doing if the weather is bad is nonsense. It's normal Scotland in May. Don't believe me? Go see what the Met Office say and check May against the anomaly maps. All we had in May was a bit more rain and temperatures a bit colder in some places. Nothing more. Just how it is. Not out of the ordinary for the time of year, and most of the years the Challenge has been held.
The conversation needs to focus on training, fitness, coping with bad weather, skills in navigation, and off-path terrain walking (one challenger was described to me as an accident waiting to happen) and energy conservation, and less on ideas of moving the event time due to weather.
Plan and train for the worst and all the rest is a bonus. Happy planning.