Sunday, 17 May 2015

Countdown to the Arran Mulanje Trigpoint Challenge

This Thursday I'm setting off on an epic challenge that I'm not sure I can complete!  I'm raising money for Arran Mountain Rescue and the MR team on Mount Mulanje, Malawi, by linking all of Arran's 23 pillar and bolt Trigpoints on foot, in a single unsupported push.  It's a pretty scary proposition, and I'm hoping to complete it in 4 days.  Realistically I'm expecting to run in to 5 so have allowed myself a bit of extra time.  This is helping me freak out slightly less than I would otherwise be about Thursday's forecast, which is not friendly at all...

Approximate route!
The reason why I'm doing this is straighforward.  Whilst in Malawi last year, I saw first hand the difficult conditions that the informal MR team, loosely attached to the Mulanje Guides and Porters Association, have to deal with. These local heroes work on the mountain, and work together to save the lives of tourists who need assistance in this remote area.  Their work goes further than trad MR teams in the UK however, because they also see it as part of their responsibility to support their community and any individuals in urgent need. They help the elderly, the disabled, and children who no longer have working adults to support them on a routine basis as well as at times of crisis. During last January's catastrophic floods that left 200,000 people homeless, they rescued hundreds of people from the floods whilst their own homes were destroyed. The team has no equipment, and very little formal training apart from their own rugged experience of working on the mountain.

Damaged homes and crops in Mulanje region, Jan 2015
Back home I'm a member of Arran MR Team.  In March 2013, we too found ourselves trying to help our community in the wake of a weather disaster- this time an epic snow event that buried half the island and left us without power for six days. My memories of how I felt when my community was in urgent need really brought home to me the tough job that the Mulanje guys do. We are far wealthier than the Mulanje team, but we live on a funding knife edge- supported mainly by charitable donations, with vital equipment needs and unpredictable pressures on our resources. I'm raising funds for both these teams so they can continue to help fellow mountaineers and mountain communities in times of need.

Arran MRT training in wintry conditions, Feb 2015
Preparation has been fairly minimalist, I have to admit.  I've a busy schedule, and have struggled to fit in any training or planning, so will be relying on local knowledge, a base level of fitness and a high pain threshold! I'm genuinely quite intimidated- when I look at the distance involved (over 120km) and the height gain (I've not added it up in case it puts me off completely), I am not entirely sure that I can do it. But that's the challenge, and it wouldn't be worthwhile without that little element of jeopardy!
If you agree- please show your support for Mountain Rescue volunteers and go to my fundraising page and make a donation. Thank you!

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