I was reminded as I tramped around above Loch Callater of my recent bivi and retreat in the Cairngorm due to weather conditions. Clearly, the more you expose yourself to arduous routes or situations where retreat may be required, the more frequently you are going to be faced with making those decisions. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, you simply have to weigh up the kit you take, the weather and terrain you are likely to meet and be able to act objectively when the time comes.
Andrew Skurka is well known in the world of ‘fast and light’ thru-hiking. A recent entry on his blog, entitled ‘stupid-light‘, makes for a pertinent read. With the explosion in ultra light backpacking and bikepacking gear overnight rides into challenging or relatively unknown terrain is becoming increasingly popular. It takes time to learn where your limits of comfort are. A few days ago I washed the MacPac down sleeping bag liner I used when Biff and myself bikepacked around the Picos in Northern Spain. It is ridiculously thin and insubstantial. At the time, with wool longs (which added versatility for acting as a change of clothing when we stayed in a refugio, or for added on-the-bike insulation) it was enough, but I have reached for my warmer bag every time hence. How light is too light?
I was reminded of my discussion with Shaggy and others about where ultra endurance goes next – giga endurance was our beer fueled, slightly cynical response. We live and learn.