Monday, 10 December 2012

Massive leaps forward!

Well, in the continuing theme of throwing mud at walls, it just goes to show that you should never give up (something that I might need to keep in mind whilst on Rockall!) In a somewhat random move, I 'Googled' people with the surname Rockall who might have a link with the expedition. As luck would have it, and following a letter to Paris, James Rockall, CEO of the WLPGA 'got' the expedition and could see the obvious links between their campaign 'LPG Exceptional Energy', which aims to promote the use of LPG in remote areas, and my need for a reliable and clean fuel source for cooking whilst on the rock. In addition, LPG Exceptional Energy have very kindly agreed to support the expedition financially as GOLD sponsors.
As GOLD sponsors LPG Exceptional Energy are able to have their logo on the RockPod survival shelter, to ensure maximum publicity for their brand. With their printers having let them down, a Belgian student was dispatched on a plane to Edinburgh with an envelope containing the logos, and arrived half way through the floatation testing at the Seagull Trust dock on the canal at Ratho!
He was, not surprisingly, somewhat bemused to arrive to an image of me swinging around on top of the RockPod, suspended from a crane over the canal. It was all necessary, as I was able to check that the RockPod floats, which it does, and it is surprisingly very stable (I avoided the temptation to see it if would self-right with me in it, much to the disappointment of my goading friend and glamorous assistant Dan!). I could also check that my design was strong enough to be lifted by a crane and was stable whilst being lifted, as it will have to be to get it off the boat. I'd like to thank Ronnie Rusack MBE for his permission and assistance with using the Seagull Trust's facilities.
Next 'Glamourous Dan' and I moved venue to the hidden, but publicly open crag behind the Edinburgh International Climbing Area (EICA), which happily is also in Ratho. There I met up with Fraser MacDonald and Stevie, both rope rescue instructors at the National Rope Rescue Centre in Edinburgh. These were the guys to teach me the specialist skills, over and above my existing climbing experience, required to allow me to winch up and lower the RockPod, which weighs around 150kg, over a cliff by myself.
The exercise was again very helpful, and demonstrated that I need to rethink/design the winching/lowering points on the RockPod to have specific ones for this purpose rather than using those fitted for tethering it to Rockall. I also need to have a fixed central point for the line to attach to, because, as seen above, the RockPod had a tendency to tilt to the side when it got caught on even the smallest feature. It was also a chance to use the Portable Winch for the first time, and it proved to be the perfect tool for the job, and easily lifted the RockPod back up the cliff. Glamorous @MountainDann spent most of the afternoon leaning over the edge of the cliff to take photos whilst I operated the winch and the lowering mechanism. So thanks to Dan for all his help!
All this testing and activity led to a great blog today on The Guardian's website by Severin Carrell, which has already yielded some more followers on Twitter, publicity for sponsors, and hopefully will attract others to get involved with the final portion of funding I need to get this expedition off the ground - thanks to LPG Exceptional Energy I'm now two thirds of the way there! One way you can help is to click this link to the Kukri Adventure Scholarship, 'like' the page and vote for my video.
The final thing to say is that I agreed provisional departure (and retrieval) dates today with Angus at Kilda Cruises...