Mount Everest is the Earth's highest mountain, with a peak at 8,848 metres above sea level and the 5th tallest mountain measured from the centre of the Earth. It is located in the Nepal.
A year ago today Rolfe and I had made the rather hot and sweaty climb up to Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face. At 7000m, the ‘camp’ is perched rather precariously on a 60 degree slope with platforms cut into the snow and ice by our incredible team of climbing Sherpas who would a week later follow our every step up to the summit, like shadows making sure we were safe for each and every one of those steps.
This was due to be our summit bid and we just couldn’t wait. Our expedition had been going to plan although I had experienced rather cold feet (literally not figuratively!) on my first run up the Lhotse Face and then was fried in the microwave effect sun on this climb up. I had arrived at the base of the camp, about 50m in height from our tents and called up to Rolfe for some help. I never ask for help unless I am in dire straits and this time I was in dire straits. I had cooked on the way up in my down suit, having bought the warmest suit I could get from PHD which would save me a week later, at this point it was just like being in a sauna. I had stripped down the top to my base layer but was still cooking. The sun bounced off the snow and ice, the going was slushy under foot, I ran out of water, and what should have taken me 4 hours took 6 or 7, I can’t really remember but I remember it being hell.
What I do remember is that Rolfe came down to my perch, took my pack with a muttering of ‘you’re not going to get all feminist on me’ with me replying – I need help, please. When I finally got into our tent I just wanted water and lots of it. Rolfe had made a big pan of tomato soup which, in hindsight, was the best that I could have downed at that moment in time.
Settled into the tent with oxygen bottles keeping us company but being saved for the summit push, we soon had a radio call with Henry, our Camp Manager. He had a plethora of experience on Everest and a personality to match the mountain. He called to say that our summit attempt was in doubt due to a sudden turn in weather (or he actually said if you go higher you will die – to the point!). What was due to be a clear(ish) and calm(ish) next 48 hours had turned into a storm with high winds and freezing temperatures (think the -50s rather than just a zero!)
There were various mutterings from others in our Everest base camp team about giving it a go but for Rolfe and myself, we wanted more than ‘let’s go and see’. Sometimes the ‘let’s go and see’ approach works but on this occasion we knew that our chances of getting higher than Camp 4 at 8000m on the South Col were less than slim so we decided to turn around in the morning, head back down the Lhotse Face, a quick strip of down suits at the 6400m Camp 2 in the Western Cwm then head back down through the much feared Khumbu Icefall and back to the relatively oxygenated luxury of EBC.
So, time to re-plan. Climbing big mountains is all about planning, re-planning, waiting, pushing on, waiting again and then going for it, with maybe another re-plan thrown in for good measure. On Manaslu in September 2013 I remember we had completed our acclimatization rotations, were on our rest day and were due to be hunkered down at our base camp for a week or so due to bad weather coming in. Rolfe had said to keep our expedition packs ready to go, just incase. Then an hour after breakfast, whilst I was thumbing through Top Gear magazine (desperation!) he popped his head through the mess tent door and said ‘we’re off in an hour’. I nearly brought up my breakfast, this was it, this was what we had come here for, summit time!
Roll back to Everest and this time we weren’t on course to summit until a few days time. It would take us 3 days to get from EBC to the South Col so a couple of extra days of rest at EBC was, although not planned and potentially frustrating for some, actually well received. You make it what it is. If we had had our summit window on our original plan then so be it but plans change, and so must we.
Flexibility is the key to any expedition, whatever its size, and patience must be a big part of your kit bag. Travel very rarely goes according to plan at the best of times, let alone on a big expedition such as on an 8000m peak and if you are not willing or able to go with the flow then it’s probably best not to be there. ‘Yes, you are going: no, you are not’ twice, thrice or more over. Could be frustrating or just taken as all part of life on expedition, that’s your call. I know which way my brain swings and it is the ‘hey ho, time for more sleep’ way. In our case, a week later, 19th May 2016, we were stood on top of the world and that summit was well worth the wait but that’s another story.
All the very best to all of the teams playing the weather waiting game on Everest at the moment. They’ve put in the hard work and now it’s time to be patient. I’ve been following the season and wish everyone I know and everyone I don’t the very best but a special ‘climb safe’ goes to the amazing Mollie Hughes and Jon Gupta on the North Side and on the South Side the effervescent Vibs who I first met in 2015 and the incredible Azim (an Iranian mountaineer and all round lovely person who I met last year on the mountain when he was attempting to complete the last 2 of the 14 8000ers with no Os (yup, no Os!) I last saw him on his way up to the summit of Everest whilst I was coming down. No Lhotse for either of us so he is back this year.) and to my incredible Sherpa friends, who without their support none of us would be there. Climb safe all x
You’ve signed up for the trip of your lifetime, a tick on your bucket list. You can’t believe you’ve had the guts to simply sign on the dotted line or clicked ‘book now’ but you have and it’s time to start training but the elation from booking turns into fear of all the hard work ahead of you. Sound familiar?
We all lead busy lives, filling every second with ‘stuff to do’ and it seems these days that if you are asked ‘how are you?’ then the stock answer is ‘oh, you know, too busy’ rather than ‘I’m great!’ In my mind, if you sign up for a challenge, what ever it may be, then you owe it to yourself and your fellow teammates to get fit so finding time is all-important. There are no short cuts to getting fit, you need to put in the hours, however there are some simple things that you can do to give yourself the best chance possible to achieve your goal.
I’m often told on trips ‘I didn’t have time to do much’ or ‘I was fine on my last trip 5 years ago so I thought I would be now’ or ‘it can’t be that hard, can it?’ There is nothing you can do about your fitness when your boot hits the trail but there are lots of things you can do before hand….just stop procrastinating! People seem to spend more time researching kit than they do training, that to me is plain crazy.
Here are a few things that have helped get me from a very unfit exercise shy girl to standing on top of the world which took hard work and dedication but was worth every bead of blood, sweat and tears.
From cycling a bit of Peru in 2004 to standing on top of the world in 2016, is that really me?
Think smart and make time – do a little analysis of actually how you actually spend your time. You’ll find that you spend longer on social media or faffing about than you think. Use the faff time to do something productive and get your body into the shape it needs to be.
Set a plan or get a plan and make time – when I signed up for my first bike challenge with Discover Adventure way back in 2003 I was sent a training plan amongst a host of other information. I looked at it and thought ‘crikey!’ However, I knew that at that time I wasn’t very fit and was starting from a very base level so I followed the training plan to the letter. Yes it was a huge effort, yes it hurt (a lot), yes I made ‘sacrifices’ but I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t trailing way behind or being picked up in the van because I wasn’t fit enough to complete the ride and I didn’t’ want to let myself down. It certainly paid off.
Little things can make a big difference and once again, make time – Doing nothing will get you no where, doing something will get you further, doing a lot will get you all the way. I saw a post today #you won’t get the butt you want by sitting on the sofa! How very true and you certainly won’t get fit by sitting on the sofa either.
- Always take the stairs, never the elevator or escalator.
- When you are brushing your teeth do some squats.
- When you are going up the stairs, take them 2 at a time and then do it again.
- When you walk your dogs put on an increasingly loaded pack and leg weights.
- Go up that hill rather than going around it.
- Get off the bus/train one stop earlier.
- Park the car on the outskirts of town and walk in.
- Get on YouTube and do some yoga, even whilst watching TV!
- Join a walking / cycling / running group, you’ll be more motivated to get out with others.
There are many more ways in which you can increase your exercise levels and every bit helps.
Train for type and make time (!) – your body needs to be used to the exercise you’ll be doing on your challenge so make sure the majority of your training is training for type. When training for the Big E I did a range of things to increase my fitness and strength. I bit the bullet and went to a personal trainer once or twice a week when I was home to increase my strength, it hurt a lot but what a difference Matt at Evolved Health made. I went running up hills which hurt a lot but the majority of the time I was out with my backpack on, Daisy at my side, pushing my body further and further, and yes, it hurt a lot but my body was in tune with what I was going to put it through in the 9 weeks that I spent in Nepal in 201
Get out of your comfort zone (and make time) – if you only train when you feel fresh or the weather is nice and sunny you won’t really know what you can push yourself and kit through. I can guarantee that there will be days on your challenge when you won’t feel your best, you won’t want to get out of your sleeping bag because you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, your feet hurt, your muscles ache and it’s also raining. Grumpsville here we come! Getting out in all weathers hardens your body and your mind and tests your kit, going training when you are feeling tired will get you used to that feeling when you are on your challenge, going out more than 2 days in a row will replicate what you will be doing on your challenge. Getting into that pain cave is great training, go do it! There is a difference between not feeling 100% and training and feeling unwell and training, know the difference and act accordingly.
Don’t take shortcuts (and make time) – Difficult is good, difficult makes you stronger. Don’t make it easy because easy won’t get you fit. Rolfe shouted down to me whilst taking this picture ‘What are you doing?! Walk in my tracks, it’s easier! All the climbers of the world will be looking at this thinking you are a chump!’ My reply ‘Easy won’t get me Denali fit’ along with ‘All the climbers of the world will definitely not be reading my blog!’ By making my own tracks I was making life harder for me here to make it easier for me on Denali (it is all relative!) and on Denali I will be following the tracks.
Go on a training weekend (make time!) – You are investing in the success of your challenge by spending 2 days in the company of others in a similar position to you and with experts. You can actually save yourself time and money too. By talking through fitness and training and also going out on the hill during the weekend will give you an idea of where your fitness lies in relation to where it needs to be. You’ll make new friends/contacts and go away more motivated to keep going. Funnily enough I am involved in one such TrepPrep weekend with The Fresh Air Learning Co. At just £134 for 2 1/2 days of information and advice, it’s a steal! Click here for details.
In essence, you really need to make time to train. As mentioned above, there are no short cuts to getting fit and getting challenge ready. By being physically fit you will be much more mentally prepared and arrive at the start of your challenge more relaxed and ready to enjoy this experience of a lifetime.
Next stop on my 7 summits quest – Denali! Fund-raising for children’s mental health charity Place2Be. Click on the tabs above to see how you can come around the world with us!
Do or do not, there is no try (Yoda)
Next month’s I’m often asked – how this bonkers journey of mine all began!
This coming 5 days (6-12 February 2017) is Children’s Mental Health Week but why do we need to highlight children’s mental health, or mental health in general, so much? Shouldn’t children ‘just get on with it’ as children were told to do in years gone by? Absolutely not. Mental health, no matter what your age, is as important as physical health but most seem to shy away from the words mental health, for most it is a taboo subject.
So why is it so important to highlight children’s mental and emotional health? Aren’t we just breeding more dependency in children who need to be propped up when things get a little bit tough? Absolutely not. They are our future. They are our future employees and employers, our future doctors, nurses, policemen and women, service personnel, company directors, mothers, fathers, because they are our future. Everyone has bad days, some have bad weeks, a few have bad years, everyone needs some mental health support and it can be something as simple as a chat with a friend or some more indepth support from a professionally trained counselor. By supporting and promoting mental health issues we are, in my humble opinion, making a stronger nation with stronger children for a stronger future.
I had the absolute pleasure of raising funds and awareness for children’s mental health charity Place2Be during my two Everest attempts, raising nearly £15,000 with the support of hundreds of individuals and many businesses. Not only was raising funds important but also raising awareness of this all important charity and I hope I succeeded in putting Place2Be in people’s minds and making connections where none were previously. Your funds have gone a long way….
So, at the start of this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week I would like to raise your awareness of the great work that Place2Be offer in primary and secondary schools. Please head to their website www.place2be.org.uk to see the important support they deliver and how children can grow and prosper with their help.
I’m very excited to say that I am now en-route to climb my remaining 3 mountains of the world’s Seven Summits and I am SO excited to be taking Place2Be around the world and up each mountain with me. As with Everest I am seeking sponsorship and as with Everest, 100% of every pound raised will go directly to Place2Be. As with Everest I will be offering you something for your hard earned pennies as I feel it is important for you to get something back too, don’t you think?
As with my Everest fundraising, I will be selling spaces to businesses on my new Osprey expedition pack which I am taking delivery of when I get back to the UK at the beginning of March and this time your business will be coming around the world with me. I also have 12 further spaces available for businesses to purchase on my van, Bumble, whose sign writing will also change.
* The Van – each A4 advertising space costs £625. £600 will go directly to Place2Be and £25 will cover the cost of the graphics to be printed.
** The Pack – each business card sized space will cost £600 plus £25 to cover the cost of creating a sewn badge for the pack.
*** Do the double and buy both van and pack spaces for £1000 plus £50 for graphics/badge PLUS I will include a free half day guided walk (for expenses only) and your framed badge delivered to you on completion plus inclusion in all of my social media.
To put it all in perspective – the exposure will last at least 18 months and equates to £33 per item or £56 for both per month. I’d say that was pretty good value!
The 2 previous banners raised a great amount of funds and I’m keen to do a ‘You, Me and Place2Be around the world’ banner. I’ve taken over 150 people to the top of this world, so now it’s time to take 200+ of you to Denali in Alaska, Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea and then onto Mt Vinson in Antarctica. Each space on the banner will cost £25 and I will fund the cost of creating the banner.
So, for now, come with me on another ride of our lives to countries and mountains where we have never been and help me promote children’s mental health through Place2Be. Please share to any contacts, businesses and individuals who you think may be interesting in supporting my efforts.
Next up – DENALI!!! Keep an eye out for tomorrow’s post about The Seven Summits and my 5th of the 7, this incredible mountain in Alaska. The adventure continues!
#findyoureverest #nevergiveup #makeithappen #thisgirlis #7summits
‘I am often asked’ is a new series of blogs which I will be writing once a month and after each one I will be asking for suggestions for the next.
To kick start the series I thought I would start with one of the most popular questions ‘I am often asked’ which is….what has been my favourite expedition in my 10 years of leading. The answer – Horseback across the Andes with Discover Adventure and Girlguiding.
When I left school way back in the dark ages I thought I would have a life filled with horses. I had been horse mad since I was 6 and would spend every moment when home from school at the local riding school immersed into a world which I loved so much. I gained my teaching qualifications and was Head Girl in various competition yards. When I was 19 I spent 8 months in the North Island of New Zealand at 2 competition yards, gaining my HGV license, training the horses and driving my employers around the country to various shows. The dream life gradulally lost it’s sparkle and in 1993 I moved on.
Fast forward to February 2010. I had just left the safety net of full time employment in the DA office and had taken the scary leap of faith that is going self-employed but what a way to start! This was a once in a lifetime trip leading a fabulous group of Girl Guide leaders with an all male gaucho team, a couple whom I have since met up and had the pleasure of working with on Aconcagua! It’s a small world but fabulous.
It just goes to show that the skills you learn early on in this journey of life can come in quite handy even when you think they are past their sell by date.
So what was so special about it? Mountains, horses, wild camping, great teams and great times.
Check out the fabulous professional photos and my not so professional pics from this amazing adventure. Many of the ladies had learnt to ride the year before so that they could join this trip, setting aside fears not just of riding but also of being outside their comfort zones. Learning a new skill had brought them so much and they were doing things and going places they never thought possible, just like I did on my first trip as a client back in 2004.
Now – over to you with suggestions for the next ‘I am often asked’ blog!
#findyoureverest #onelife #nevergiveup #makeithappen
We are only human
I have had long conversations recently with a few friends and colleagues about different styles of leadership and interesting chats about situations that have occurred over the past year and about how, by knowing both sides of the story, the picture was more rounded but where emotions and stressful situations were involved, looking back at things you may have acted differently, even if it was to have the same outcome which is always, always the best for you, the client. We, as leaders, all have different personalities and different styles, but we are there for one reason, to do the best for you, the client but sometimes it’s a very lonely place to be.
As a leader we are very often in a difficult position. We are treading the fine line between being your friend, your confidante, your medic, your moral support, your ‘get up and go’, trying to manage your expectations, your hopes and your dreams, your fears and anxieties, you being so far outside your comfort zone you’re not sure how to act, how to be. We understand and empathise about how you feel as we have been there too, but we are ALWAYS doing the best thing for you and that whatever decision that we make is the best decision for you. Sometimes though, in the heat of the moment when things are not going quite how you expected, words can be taken out of context and when a simple ‘come on then’ is what is needed, it maybe not what is wanted. But please remember, we are there to support you, 100%. To help you achieve your dreams.
Our intention is to always say the right thing at the right time but we are only human. You will hear what is needed to be said rather than sometimes what you want to hear, sometimes with even the best intentions you will take things the wrong way when it was said with care and patience, often you will see just a small percentage of what is going on when we have to look at the bigger picture, the whole trip or expedition, at everyone’s fitness and ability to complete the challenge and how to get the best result for all. We are only human.
Turning someone around is never an easy decision or ever taken lightly but is always a decision made in the best interests of the person or people in question. Turning someone around is never personal but done because medical indications dictate that it is the best decision at the time or that someone has just reached their personal summit. Trust me, we want you to achieve your goals as much as you do, we really do. We do this job because we want to see you succeed.
We cannot do what we do without the unending support of our incredible local crews, our Brothers from another Mother, our co-pilots flying side by side with us and we are all only human.
So please, when you take on a challenge, accept and embrace that we are there to help you, that we are there to push you on when you want to give up, that we are there to give you the best experience possible but that adventure needs to be adventurous and that it will hurt, sometimes quite a lot but be safe in the knowledge that you will come out of it on the other side a stronger, more resilient person and that understanding that what you signed up for was difficult because difficult is a good. We know that you may not like us sometimes, that’s part of the job, but we always want what’s best for you.
We are only human and we will always do our best for you, guaranteed.
On 7th January a group of my friends met me at London Heathrow for a trip of their (and mine) lifetime. Read here what we got up to on this amazingly beautiful but harsh mountain, Aconcagua.
Enjoy the read and if you fancy coming along next year, let me know!
I’ve just come back from the most amazing 6 weeks in Nepal, firstly leading a fab group of 360 Expeditions clients on Mera Peak and then being a client with Rolfe, a great friend, fellow guide, co-founder of 360 and my partner in crime on Everest, on Ama Dablam. More news about Ama and the last 3 months of expeditions shortly but here is my blog from Mera Peak. If you have a spare 5 minutes, make a cuppa, sit down and read about our trials and tribulations on this amazing expedition. Hopefully it will inspire you to get out there and go climb some mountains!
Life is full of significant events, fixed to a time and date that we will never forget. Today is one of mine.
On 25th September 2013 I was standing on the top of the 8th highest mountain in the world. Manaslu. 8163m. I was standing there terrified but free as a bird. Standing on top was more than just summiting for me, it was a freeing of so much significant stuff in my life. It’s all about the journey and not the destination, right? No longer, in my mind, was I the fat girl at school who was bullied, called Bradshit, tree trunk legs, rubber lips, and that’s the stuff that I can print. No longer did I feel like an imposter in the coolest industry in the world. Everyone has ‘shit’ going on in their lives, things that no-one else will ever know or see, by looking at the cover of the book you can’t see what’s hidden in side. I left a lot of shit at the top of that mountain.
So what’s next? Yes, Everest of course and now Lhotse too. At 8516m, the world’s 4th highest mountain. Yes, you read correctly, Rolfe and I are going to attempt to climb Lhotse straight after Everest. Staying at the South Col and trying a double whammy. Audacious some may think, arrogant to think that little me could even contemplate such a feat, well why the hell not. The biggest failure in life is the failure not to try, isn’t that what they say?
Another significant date is upon me. The 6-month countdown until we fly out to Nepal and hit the trail to climb these great mountains. Everest is not for everyone, I get that. Some say it’s too commercial, that you can buy your way onto the mountain, be dragged up it, I get that. I don’t want to climb this great mountain on those terms. I want to do it on the best terms, with a great friend and guide. I’ve put in the miles, am still putting in the miles, the training, the research, the worry, the doubt, I’m putting in everything I’ve got.
And this is where I need your help. I need you to spread the word, tell people that this gal has got a great chance, that she wants everyone to come along with her, needs everyone to come along with her! My 2 main fundraising initiatives were on the cards before I was hugely fortunate to announce that 100% of the funds were going straight to Place2Be. They will be my lifelines to the support from back home, reading the messages on the banner for inspiration, seeing your faces smiling back at me, being supported by the companies and companions who have been a part of my journey so far.
So here’s the deal. Donate £25, £75 or £150 and grab one of just 500 spaces on my Everest 500 Club banner for your photo or a message. Donate £150, £225 or £300 and grab just one of 50 spaces on my expedition pack for your company logo.
Go to www.virginmoneygiving.com/jobradshaw and come on this journey with me!
Everyone has his or her own Everest to climb. Mine, for now, just happens to be the actual mountain itself.
This morning I woke feeling pretty rubbish. My body said no and my mind was pretty much saying the same thing. A rare weekend off and the lure of a lie-in was almost too much. Every day is a good day in varying degrees so they say and I’m a great believer in those little words of wisdom so today is a good day but in very varying degrees!
I could hear Daisy (dog) grumbling downstairs almost saying ‘get your sorry arse out of bed and lets go for a run’! So I dragged my sorry arse out of my comfy bed, donned my new trainers, grabbed her lead and off we went. I still felt rubbish, my legs felt like lead and as I shuffled through Salisbury Cathedral Close admiring the beauty of this sunny morning my mood started to turn, if only a little.
One of my training runs includes a set of 100 steps which I do a few times, getting more and more the fitter and stronger I get. This morning the little devil sat on my shoulder said ‘ahhh not today, lets take it easy, shuffle round and get home for a coffee ‘ Well, I thought, if that’s my attitude today then I’m pretty stuffed when it comes to bad days out on the mountains. I have a few big mountains to climb in the next 12 months and that type of attitude gets you nowhere. So the devil was brushed off, Daisy was bounding along and up and down, up and down those steps we went.
Did I feel any better by the time we got home. Not really. I still felt rubbish, legs like lead and still feeling pretty tired but I know that I put in 100% today despite my state of mind (and body) and I know that I am a little bit fitter than I was at 8am. I know that I pushed through a mind block and that type of attitude is the one I want on Ama Dablam in November and Everest in 10 months time.
Yes, 10 months time. The days are flying by, you can’t get time back and the effort I put in now should reap rewards when I am on those mountains. Every day up there will be a good day because I’ve worked so hard for it, but in varying degrees. I had some really low points on Manaslu but I pushed through, somehow, and that feeling is hugely empowering and will stay with me forever.
Yes, in 10 months time our merry team of 4 will be making our last preparations before flying out to Lukla and starting our trek up to Everest Base Camp, and beyond. Our DofE team of students will be just as excited and our EBC trekkers will be full of anticipation. We have a long road to travel before we even set foot on the mountain. The amount of funds we aim to raise is a mountain in itself. The more funds we raise quickly, the more funds go directly to the 2 charities which we are supporting – The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Support4Sherpas – so here is a plea from me to you.
Please support our journey, please support our charities and please support those who will benefit from your kind donations. I’m not asking you to put your hands in your pockets without getting something back. There has to be something in it for you too.
Here are 5 ways that you can be involved…..(all details on the website)
- Spend £25, £75 or £150 to buy a square on the Everest 500 Club banner, send me a photo and come on the journey with us to the top.
- Join us in the Brecon Beacons from 18-20 July for a very reasonable £144 and gain an insight into an Everest expedition, see the kit we need for 8 weeks on the mountain, hear stories from Everest summiteers and benefit from expert advice to help with your next challenge, meeting like minded people who are pushing their boundaries and also want to make a difference.
- Test your nerve and put a lid on your fear by abseiling down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth on Sunday 21st September. Registration fee is £85 and fundraising target of £200 split between the climb and our 2 charities.
- Can’t make it down to Portsmouth but are nearer to the Lakes? Then join us to test your nerve by abseiling off a rock cliff, details to follow very shortly.
- ‘Pimp my rucksack’ – details of this new fundraising initiative for companies will be announced shortly!!
The more funds that I raise now, the more funds go directly to those we are trying to support so please help me today. Thanks for spending the time to read this far, share this blog, share my journey. Where every step counts.
10 years ago today I landed back in Blighty on a flight from Peru full of stories about the most amazing adventure I’d just experienced, my first fundraising challenge. Little did I know that my adventure of a lifetime would turn into a lifetime of adventures!
10 years ago I was a very different person. Never did I imagine that I would ever climb Snowdon let alone an 8000m peak. I was always the one saying ‘I could never do that’ or ‘why would you want to do that’! Little did I know then exactly how much that challenge would change my life.
10 years ago I had a safe and sensible job, went to work in a suit, had a lovely house, weekends off, a big 4×4, went to the pub on a Friday night and had leisurely Sunday lunches with my friends. Oh how life has changed!
Back in Peru, I was the quiet one. The one who didn’t quite know what she’d let herself in for. The one who managed well with the altitude, the camping was bearable, tushing the bush was a new experience and so was eating unidentifiable meat. Little did I know that altitude gives you wind and just how cold it is sleeping at 4000m. Little did I know then that going commando is the best way where cycle shorts are concerned, that going with the flow will give you the greatest experience rather than getting annoyed when things don’t go quite according to plan. Little did I know that my vertigo was going to get a kick up the arse and that my quick exit from Machu Picchu from fear would see me back there on many occasions with groups of my own thinking, blimey….you can get over these fears when you really try, when you really want to.
Back in Peru our cycling was very different. We were given paper maps, note the ‘not to scale’ comment and just pedaled until we were told to stop. No Garmins, no worries about height gain, altitude, technology was left at home and we just pedaled and enjoyed it. I remember Dougie saying ‘it doesn’t rain this time of year’ just before we cycled through a thunderstorm. I remember getting sneezing fits and a seriously runny nose and Doc saying ‘never mind, you’ll be fine’, and I was. I also remember seeing Caroline meet her new group who had flown in to Cusco just before we flew out and remember thinking ‘what a cool job’. Little did I know way back then!
So life has changed somewhat. No fancy car, few weekends off, catching up with friends when I can in between trips, no more vertigo, eating unidentifiable meat is the norm as is wild wee’ing and having Sunday lunch with my friends is a real treat. My pay packet has taken a nosedive but my richness in life has increased beyond compare.
I am no longer the ‘I could never do that’ or ‘why would you want to’ person. I’m the ‘get out there and try it’ person. I remember so well the encouragement I received from Dougie, Caroline and Helen in Peru, from Joe and Caroline in New Zealand 18 months later, and from Jackie and Sneh in Cuba. 3 years after my first trip I sent off my CV to DA and got the call to come along to a crew selection weekend. I remember talking to the leaders and hearing their tales from trips thinking that I would never be able to do that. I remember on a London to Paris, in a truck with Jason, talking about this thing called an ML, how on earth I was going to get my foot on the outdoor ladder. I remember thinking that it was such a big leap but somehow I would get there.
So roll forward 10 years, 5th May 2014. I went for a leisurely Bank Holiday lunch with a great friend, Jenny. We talked about trips and about travels. We talked about what is going to happen in the next 12 months and we did a lot of planning for Everest 2015. I showed her my Peru photos in an album and the maps we were given on each day of the ride. Oh how life has changed!
Onto Everest 2015, such a huge project to raise the funds even before we even get to Nepal. Such a lot of support from my family, friends and even people who have never met me but want to live out a dream through someone else. Everest is one mountain that I said I would never do, I was definitely in the ‘why’ rather than ‘why not’ category. Sometimes you’ve just got to put a lid on the fear, take a deep breath and just get on with it.
Never say never.