Back to Kilimanjaro

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On a rainy day in July 2010, I was sitting on the train reading the Metro (a free London commuter paper) and I saw a large Alzheimer’s Society advertisement for Kilimanjaro. For some reason this really sparked something inside of me and I immediately signed up on a whim. Apart from hiking boots, I didn’t have one single piece of hiking, camping, exercise-related kit so I had to buy everything from scratch. The other point to mention is that I was really quite unfit and overweight. I didn’t let that put me off though and I did do a lot of hiking training for the trip. When Kilimanjaro came around, it was probably all a bit too much for me – I wasn’t used to camping, not washing for days, drinking slightly murky tasting water and being away from home comforts.

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I was also carrying a bit more excess baggage than I should have been and the rest of it is pretty much a blur. I got quite bad altitude sickness and didn’t make the summit, and when I came back I was broken. For ages when people asked me about the trip and Kilimanjaro, I didn’t have a good word to say about it and now I’ve since realised it wasn’t the mountain I hated, but myself. What I did make though was huge changes to my life afterwards, which you can read about here. The shame and the disappointment kick started this love of exercise and travelling, and in that respect I am thankful, but I have unfinished business with that mountain…

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So I am taking my new-found confidence having taken on Toubkal, Mont Blanc and Elbrus to go back and face Kilimanjaro again, this time for pure fun! Now I know what to expect and I am better prepared. I know that I can do it and, importantly, I can enjoy it this time. I’m also going to make the most of being there by visiting the orphanage and going on safari.

This is who I am now, and I’ve got this!…

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I am climbing Kilimanjaro in August 2015 with Discover Adventure. Come and join me! x

sian

Elbrus 2014: Why I can call myself a mountaineer

When I look back on my recent trip to Elbrus – Europe’s highest peak at 5642m and one of the seven summits – it will not only be the mountain that I remember, but the people I met there.

Yes it would have been wonderful to have had a picture perfect summit day with panoramic views, blue skies and happy faces holding mascots, but it wasn’t to be. Does it make it all the more awesome that 10 out of 13 of us reached the summit? The short answer is yes and here’s why…

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I always try and do some sort of adventure holiday each year and this year was all about mountaineering after having a break last year. Being an incredibly neurotic and anxious person, naturally mountaineering scares me, but then so does meeting people in crowded places and bananas. I simply refuse to be ruled by my many fears and wanted to have one last crack at a high mountain. With barely a second thought, I had booked the holiday and paid the deposit and I was all set for my epic adventure.

Days 1 and 2

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The trip started with a day in Moscow – the thought of flying in to Moscow and then not at the very least seeing Red Square seemed ridiculous so we tacked on a touristy day before heading to the mountains. Getting taxis around the city is just not feasible (the traffic was absolutely horrendous) so we bought ourselves a Metro ticket and headed towards the city centre. Once you get the hang of the metro, it’s very easy to use. The hardest part was understanding the name of the stops!

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Moscow is extremely expensive so rather than wasting our money on a pretty average lunch for more than London prices, we grabbed a McDonald’s and sat in the park doing some people watching . We spent the rest of the day aimlessly wandering around Red Square taking in the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral.

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Day 3

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After a very early start (something of a theme for this trip!), we jumped on an internal flight to Milneralyne Vody (approx 2 hours’ from Moscow with Aeroflot), after which we were met by our guide for the week Vladimir – a very friendly and charming chap who spoke largely in broken English!

We spent a further 3 hours driving via mini bus to the small village of Terskol, our base for the next few days at the foot of the mountain. We met our first trip companions: 3 Russian girls, and the time passed quickly as we exchanged stories about our lives back in the real world. We finally arrived at our hotel (a modest, but comfortable place that would soon look like 5* luxury as the week went on) and met with the remainder of our group over dinner – a large group of German gentlemen made up of 6 friends and a father and son team.

After tasting some of the culinary ‘delights’ of Moscow (I would prefer not to discuss the disgusting cheese slice with raisins and broccoli I sampled over breakfast!), my expectations were at an all-time low, but I was pleasantly surprised by the food. Delicious homemade soup made up of vegetables and fresh herbs, followed by chicken and rice, as well as pasta courses were some of the many  dishes we had over the course of the week.

Day 4

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After a hearty breakfast of fried eggs and porridge, we set off on our first acclimatisation hike, which saw us take an incredibly steep and exhausting path up towards the cable cars from the foot of the valley up to around 3000m.  I started chatting with Andreas, who is in fact a doctor and we shared our various healthcare/pharmaceutical experiences, and Alex who had come here with his father. I am so envious of people who do things like this with their parents and siblings. In fact, watch out Alex – I may adopt Heinz as my honorary dad! 😉

I must confess it had been a long while since I’d hiked anywhere (does trail running count?) and I was feeling quite exhausted after the first hill, which was a little bit demoralising.

Day 5

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Another early start as we set off on our second acclimatisation hike up from the valley this time to the observatory at 3100m. This hike wasn’t quite as steep as the previous day and I found it much easier going. In the evening, Vladimir did a quick kit check and told me that my beloved La Sportiva B3 boots would not be suitable and that I’d have to hire horrible plastic boots as well as a Michelin man-style down jacket and ice axe.

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I felt quite annoyed because I was sure the all this talk of ‘extreme temperatures’ was complete overkill and that he just had a deal going with the hire company. Oh how wrong we were.

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Day 6

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After breakfast, we headed up on the cable car and the chair lift to the infamous barrels at the Bochki camp (accommodation made out of old oil drums) at 3800m (the start of our snow-based trekking) armed with all of our kit and supplies for the week. The weather was absolutely boiling (think sahara desert with snow) and I started to worry that it would be too hot and that plastic boots were a waste of time! We did a short acclimatisation hike to get used to the hideous plastic boots up to around 4100m and returned for lunch in the the battered old caravan.

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Maria our cook (a lady with more gold than white teeth!) managed to cook up some homemade soup in her make-shift kitchen. The lunch also included cheese and ham, bread and sweets to keep our energy levels up. We sat in the caravan drinking tea and listening to dreadful Russian Europop interspersed with the Cranberries until we were kicked out and the next group came along.

It is worth mentioning the toilets, or ‘the spa’ as it was later referred to, at this point. I have seen my fair share of disgusting toilets over the years (most of which have been in France), but these were probably among the worst I’ve had to endure – a smelly hole in the ground. Every time I visited the toilets I wanted to dowse my entire body in iodine.

Day 7

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For the last of our acclimatisation hikes, we headed up from the barrels to just shy of the Pastuckhova rocks at around 4500m. It was a tiring day finishing at around 3pm, but the majority of the group were really keen to attempt the summit in the early hours of the following morning, which actually turned out to be perfect conditions (clear blue skies). Unfortunately, our guide suggested we instead take a rest day at the barrels.

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Day 8

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We had a later start as we were scheduled in to have a rest day and do some ice axe arrest and crampon training for an hour of so. Ordinarily, a rest day would be most welcome, but the lack of home comforts make the barrels an unwelcome place to spend any time. I decided to nap in the afternoon knowing full well that I was very unlikely to get any sleep that night ahead of our start in the early hours of the morning.

Day 9 – Summit day

elbrus-routeOur guide had told us that because of the predicted conditions, we would be getting the snowcat (an enormous snow plough type contraption with seats) up to 5100m (above Pashtukov rocks) and walking from there. This meant a 3am start. I was quite disappointed as I would rather have started where we left off.

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The snowcat seemed like fun for the first 2 minutes, but the novelty quickly wore off when I realised I would have to hang on just to keep myself from sliding down for 10 minutes. Not the most ideal preparation for an exhausting day ahead.

As we emerged from the snowcat I realised just how cold it was, how high we were and how steep the section of the mountain was! I was breathing quite heavily for the first 5 minutes and honestly thought I couldn’t go on. I kept plodding along though for what I can only imagine was another 45 minutes and looked behind me and saw that nobody was there. In fact, one of the chaps had gone back down.  As we came over the saddle between the Eastern and Western summit and headed left for the Western summit, the cold and the wind hit me like a thousand shards of glass into my face. My face hurt, my lips hurt, my fingers hurt. In fact, given that the boots were the most uncomfortable footwear known to man, they were pretty much the only thing that didn’t hurt from the cold.

There was absolutely no respite from the biting 50+ km/h winds and every time we stopped everyone chose to preserve their fingers rather than risk taking their mittens off to eat or drink. We pushed on towards what would normally be a narrow very exposed snow path, however, the recent snowfall meant that the path had all but disappeared and we were blindly relying on the grip from our crampons and ice axes. Walking through fresh snow is exhausting at the best of times, but even more so when you are terrified of falling.

A particularly steep section of the path had a fixed rope attached and we clipped ourselves in hoping that the rope would break our fall should the worst happen. I nervously and gingerly worked my way across – by this point there was nobody immediately in front or behind me. I was shaking and terrified – I looked back and I saw Heinz a few feet away and he nodded in approval. I was doing OK.

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Another flat section – phew! I cried with joy, disappointment, elation and fear. ‘What the hell kind of stupid thing am I doing?!’ I asked myself. My fingers were in agony. I felt completely alone – I couldn’t see anybody and I couldn’t talk to anyone as the wind was too strong to have a conversation, and I didn’t have the energy to shout. We rested for a while. I sat down and leaned forward and shut my eyes. I couldn’t get up – ‘Maybe I’m going to die here?’ I thought: ‘I’m too tired to get up’. ‘Get your shit together’ a voice in my head shouted and I collected myself. Vladimir came over to ask if I was OK and got my drink out of my bag for me. I took a few sips and it lifted my spirits a bit and I got up. ‘Just another 40 minutes until the summit’ he said. ‘OK 40 minutes – I can do this’.

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The path towards the summit was relatively flat, but completely exposed to the winds blowing grown men off their feet. At one stage I remember standing watching as Alex stood unable to move because of the strength of the wind. Slowly but surely though we reached edge of the summit. What I can only imagine in reasonably clear conditions would take 2 minutes to walk up, seemed to take a lifetime. I had to crawl up a 3 metre slope to the summit using my ice axe and crampons as the wind was too strong to stand. I was almost there when 2 hands reached out and pulled me up. It was Rich and someone else – I don’t remember who. I had made it. I lay there exhausted for a minute and then stood up. Rich took a picture. My mouth hurt too much to smile.

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This didn’t feel like the summit at all – there was no view to speak of, only snow-filled air all around us. The summit was absolutely crowded with Chinese climbers too. I just wanted to get away. I bashed my hands together to try and get the circulation back into my thumbs. They didn’t feel right and I panicked: ‘I need my thumbs for typing’ I thought.

Given that the guide said it would probably take 6 hours to reach the summit in normal conditions, we had done so in an impressive 7 hours.

We headed back down and the wind was so strong it was blowing my hood off and exposing the side of my face to the biting wind. Back at the fixed ropes, the path looked even less defined than before. I cautiously placed every footstep in the snow and made sure that my ice axe was firmly placed, but the snow was so soft it was giving away and then I fell. Only about 6 feet, but it felt like 3 times that. I dug in my ice axe and crampons and lay there. I couldn’t see or hear anything and then I saw Vladimir come over. He told me to flip over and dig in my crampons. I felt ok on my front and moved across quickly to to next section of ropes. I saw the Russian girls in front of me and then I heard some shouting in Russian. I looked over and I saw that the group of Chinese climbers were practically walking on top of us on what was arguably the most dangerous section. I felt angry as all I wanted to do was get back onto the flatter section, but we kept having to stop to let them pass us. We unclipped ourselves from the fixed rope and the guide fashioned a rope tethering us all together. I didn’t enjoy this at all – I felt like I was being pulled backwards and forwards unable to find any kind of rhythm. I just wanted to walk at my own pace. I heard Dasha cry out in terror and I felt her pain. ‘Should we really be here?’ I thought. ‘If this was the Alps you wouldn’t be allowed up’. We carried on though and it suddenly hit me how utterly freezing I was. As we arrived back at the drop off point at 5100m, Vladimir asked if anyone wanted a lift down in the snowcat. I decided that I was just too cold to carry on and took him up on his offer. This time I sat outside at the front of the snowcat hanging on for dear life with virtually nothing between me and ground beneath me. I was shivering to the core and Vladimir gave me a hug and made sure I was ok. Back at the barrels, I removed the wet clothing, added several layers and lay there in my sleeping bag for 2 hours before the rest of the group arrived back – it took 4 hours before my core temperature returned to normal. I decided to forego lunch and get some rest. By dinner time (8pm) I was back to normal though and just glad the whole thing was over. All I could think about was having a nice shower, wearing clean clothes and proper toilets. We had to wait though until the next morning. For the first time in the whole trip though I slept solidly and soundly for 5 hours!

Day 10

We took the cable car back down to relative civilisation, showered and had some lunch where copious amount of beer and vodka were consumed. I headed to market to buy some souvenirs to mark our epic adventure. Rich chose a t-shirt and I decided I was more likely to actually use a baseball cap.

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For the celebratory dinner, we headed to a local restaurant to try out the traditional shashlik – Russian shish kebab – and smoke a shisha (first time for me). We all had a very early start so after only a few beers we all decided to call it a night. The trip had come to an end and we were going home.

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Day 11

As we took our flight home, I felt a sense of loss that I would never see these people, who had practically been my family for the last 10 days, again. If I did see them it just wouldn’t be the same. It’s the end of an era and we’re back to normality.

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Looking back now, I realise just what I had achieved and how amazing each and every one of the group were. There was absolutely no shame in feeling exhausted or turning back – the conditions were like hell on earth. One thing is for sure – we can all call ourselves true mountaineers.

I said no more summit bagging after this, but right now I feel such an amazing sense of pride that I may well go back on my word…

sian

Review: The Running Mat

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I was asked if I wanted to review a new product – The Running Mat – and I jumped at the chance because innovative products like this are right up my strata.

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The Running Mat is a clever piece of kit – it’s a portable outdoor exercise mat that you wear around your waist perhaps if you take part in boot camps, hike or run shorts distances and want to mix in some outside stretches and core work.

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I chose to try it out on my 17-mile hike for something to sit on during my lunch break. It’s a great idea because it’s lightweight, foldable and you hardly even notice it’s there when wearing it. It also retains the heat, which is really useful as I tend to cool down very quickly once I have stopped running or hiking.

I shall certainly be using it for my running club this week!

sian

 

Fat girl inside a skinny body

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Over the last year or so, on and off, I’ve been struggling. After the initial weight loss, the feeling good, all the PBs rolling in, the adrenaline has worn off and I’m now left with the body and the fitness I want, but the mind of a fat girl. It doesn’t matter what I achieve, how far I can run, how high I can climb the voice inside my head is ALWAYS telling me I can’t do it. It’s extremely exhausting being me and maintaining a positive front all the time when inside I am screaming!

You see I am inherently hard on myself. I see heavy breathing as a weakness rather than effort, I see struggling to the summit as a sign that I’m unfit, not that the summit is insanely steep and that 99% of people would struggle. For running, I’m in control of these demons – I get through and even if I fail I only have to set foot out of the door on a good day and all wrongs have been righted and I live to fight a new day.

My arch nenemis is mountaineering. My stats say that I should be able to do it easily:

– Marathon and half marathon runner – check

– Low resting heart rate (55 bpm) – check

– Low end of BMI scale (22) – check

– Does shed loads of exercise/training – check

I just don’t have the bollox for it. I really struggle mentally to tell myself I can get up that hill. Something inside remembers the mildly overweight, unfit girl who tried to haul her lazy arse up Kilimanjaro,  but didn’t make it. 

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Next year I have set my sights on Elbrus, Russia (5,642 metres; 18,510 ft) in June or July. It’s going to be tough, but I’ll have Rich with me for support (something I’ve not had before – I usually do things alone) and I know with his help I can do this. I should be marathon fit by then too so there’s no excuse! 

Then the old me will be dead and buried, and the new me will kick that mountain’s butt!

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Action holidays on a shoe string

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A lot of people marvel at the fact that I have so many holidays and I often get asked how I do it – the answer is simple. When it comes to going away, I am a massive tight wad! I like to shop around to get the best deal and would rather stay in a B&B than a 5* hotel. After all, the more I save, the more holidays I can squeeze in.

So here are some of my top tips for saving money on your holidays:

Before you go:

– Shop around and negotiate: Small family run B&Bs may be able to do a discount, for example, if you are staying for a few nights. For them, it’s much better to have rooms filled with paying customers than an empty room. Make a spreadsheet of all the different options and add up flight costs and certain things that other packages do and don’t include to ensure you are getting a true price comparison.

– Decant all your cosmetics and toiletries into travel-sized containers and take perfume and cream samples with you (I have a collection that I have been given, got free or came from Glossy Box). I also pinch the shampoo and conditioner from hotels (when I go for work trips) and re-use them.

– Take home comforts that you can’t live without (marmite, teabags etc) with you. Chances are buying these abroad will cost double the UK price.

– Look in unusual places: Earlier in the year I went to Romania and I found that deal on Groupon! I saved 50% on the price of the holiday.

– Think outside the box: If you are in to hiking, climbing and mountaineering – think outside the box. For example, rather than the Alps, consider the Dolomites. The lifts are much cheaper as is the accomodation. Tenerife is also fantastic for walking and hiking, with such well marked out routes that even the most navigationally challenged person would be able to find their way around.

– Make use of budget airlines: Yes I know you have to queue up for ages with the great unwashed, but who cares? As long as you get there right? Some great budget airlines that I use are Monarch, Easy Jet and Wizz Air.

When you get there:

– Eat out less often: It may seem mean, but if you have a kitchenette make use of it. You don’t have to be an amazing chef, you could just get some beers in and a frozen pizza. You are guaranteed to save yourself a small fortune and you are also much less likely to overindulge by ordering that chocolate pudding!

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– If staying in a hotel, make yourself lunch from the breakfast buffet. This is a bit sneaky I know, but I justify it as I usually eat a small breakfast whilst other people may be going in for second or third helpings. You have to be organised and take a lunch box/sandwich bag with you, but you can easily spend £10-20/day on lunch in a restaurant.

– Why buy when you can hire: Lots of people buy expensive kit, never use it again and it ends up on ebay. Most outdoor companies that run adventure holidays will let you hire kit at very reasonable costs. Not only does it save you space/weight in our case, but it also saves you money and gives you the opportunity to try before you buy.

Some of favourite budget holidays:

– Dolomites, Italy (10 days): 1 week Via Ferrata and 2 days in Jesolo and Venice – total cost approx £650. Monarch fly to Venice for as little as £39.

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– Atlas mountains, Morocco: 2 days in Marrakech and 5 days hiking and summiting Mount Toubkal – total cost approx £650. Try Trek Hire UK.

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– Tenerife: 5 days relaxing/2 days hiking (half board). Try Easy Jet.

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Do you have any money saving holiday tips to share?

sian

Mont Blanc Adventures

Although I dropped off the radar last year, I was still out and about doing lots of things. I had originally booked Mont Blanc earlier in 2012 and was really looking forward to it, but my circumstances half way through the year changed and I even considered cancelling the trip as it was way down on my list of priorities – I wasn’t really in the right frame of mind for it. Fortunately, I didn’t cancel as it was a fantastic trip that I would recommend to any budding mountaineers out there. Getting there

View of Lake Geneva from the train

View of Lake Geneva from the train

I wasn’t the most organised person having only booked my flights 3 days before departure – luckily flights to Geneva are dirt cheap on EasyJet all year round. I also opted for ‘winging it’ as my way of getting from the airport to Chamonix. Having established that a taxi from Geneva airport to Chamonix would cost me 300 Euros (ouch) I opted for the train. Swiss trains are fantastic – always on time and the guards are very helpful telling you where to change. The only problem with this plan was the fact that I had to change three times (meaning waiting around for connections). I didn’t mind too much though as the views of lake Geneva are fantastic and to me it was all part of the adventure. I was due to meet the group in Chamonix at 2pm, but because of the train shenanigans I was late. I boarded the last train on my epic adventure – the Mont Blanc Express (‘Express’ in the loosest sense of the word as it was not fast by any stretch of the imagination) for more fantastic views. Here I met an American and an Aussie living and working in Geneva who were both climbing Mont Blanc. We exchanged adventure stories and having waved goodbye to my new Mont Blanc BFFs, I met with Kingsley from Icicle. He had kindly agreed to come and meet me off the train to take me up to the meet the group in the hut for our acclimatisation walk up Mount Le Buet.

View from the Mont Blanc Express

View from the Mont Blanc Express

Acclimatisation weekend IMG_0649 After a 45-minute ‘trail run’ (Kingsley is like a gazelle!), I met with the group in the mountain hut and later found out that they had done the same ‘walk’ in 2.5 hours! It was great to meet some people from the group. Three of us were in the Mont Blanc group, and one was doing a mountain skills course. The mountain hut as always was basic but boy was the hot chocolate good! After a restless sleep we started our hike up Mount Le Buet. It was a relatively easy hike, but I did start to feel the altitude just before the top (3100m).

Summit of Mount Le Buet

Summit of Mount Le Buet

After walking back the way we came the day before, we got the bus to the Icicle offices and found out our itinerary, got all our our hire kit sorted out, and got some much-needed rest. If you do decide to climb Mont Blanc, then I think the acclimatisation weekend is well worth doing as, aside from the obvious acclimatisation benefits, it’s always good to meet the people you might be climbing with and get to know them a bit. IMG_0650 Day 1: Mer du Glace – Basic mountain skills training

Ladders down to Mer du Glace

Ladders down to Mer du Glace

We met for breakfast in the Icicle offices and met with 2 of the guides for our training day to get us used to walking with crampons, climbing and being roped. We took the cable car up to the glacier and it soon became apparent that getting down to it would involve lots of climbing down high ladders. I’m not great with heights at all, but weirdly this didn’t seem to bother and I took it all in my stride. After a bit of a walk, we put our crampons on. I have use crampons before and they take a bit of getting used to. First stop was learning to walk properly in them, running up slopes, and climbing backwards down a wall. This was all great for gaining trust in your equipment as well as learning to be safe.

Train on the way to Mer du Glace

Train on the way to Mer du Glace

I loved the ice climbing though, although I stupidly wore my thin gloves and lost the feeling in my fingers for a while! I will definitely have a go at that again. Day 2: Climbing the Cosmique Arete On day 2, we all split up into groups of 2 and met with our guides. The point of this day was to get us doing a bit of climbing and our guide chose the Cosmique Arete (3842m). I’d heard stories about the infamous ridge that you are met with as you leave the cable car station so I was really nervous. Well, all I can say is the ridge is there, it is pretty narrow (about 0.5m wide) with a sheer 1000m drop either side, but I felt quite secure being roped to the guide and my crampons. If you thought that was hard though, then you’d shudder at the thought of the next bit of rock climbing. I’ll leave you with this video so you can see just how tough that was! Day 3: Tete Rousse hut On day 3, I was told that I would be going up for the summit attempt. This involved getting the train, hiking up to the Tete Rousse mountain hut and then a challenging 2-3 hour scramble up to the Gouter mountain hut. Unfortunately, there were 40 mile/hour winds so we ended up staying in the Tete Rousse hut for an extra night. This would mean a very long summit day.

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View from the Tete Rouse hut

Day 4: Gouter hut and our ascent of Mont Blanc We started out with head torches at 6am for our 1000m scramble from the Tete Rousse hut to the Gouter Hut. I really struggled with this. I think it was a combination of me being not a great climber, tiredness and also the altitude. I was exhausted by the time we got to the Gouter hut. We stopped for 45 minutes, got a hot chocolate and then started the long 6-hour summit attempt. Walking from the Gouter hut to the summit I found a little bit dull. It was just walking on a massive expanse of white. After the excitement of the Aiguille du Midid scramble, I found it a bit of a let down. I think this may well have been the main reason why I didn’t make it to the summit (200m off). I didn’t have the desire to get there and I let the tiredness get the better of me. I think if I do it again I will choose a more technically challenging route that is slightly more enjoyable rather than a long monotonous slog. Day 5: The long climb down Sometimes when you reach the summit of mountains in all the excitement you forget that you have to climb all the way down again. I often wish I could teleport myself down. Granted, climbing down is much, much easier than climbing up a mountain, but I was absolutely desperate for a shower and a cold beer at that point. We managed to walk down from the Gouter hut to the train station in about 3 hours, jump on the train and then a kind local randomly gave us a lift to the Icicle offices. The verdict

Mont Blanc 2012

Mont Blanc 2012

I would recommend that anyone at least visits Chamonix and goes out walking. It’s such a beautiful place and there are so many alpine walks that you can do. I am definitely going back to Chamonix again this year and signing up for the Icicle trail running course. If I do attempt Mont Blanc again I’d like to either do another route or perhaps learn to climb it myself (Icicle also run a course for this). Above all, I think I’d love to do it again with friends as it’s the sort of thing that you need a bit of moral support with.

Massive bruises on my leg!

Massive bruises on my leg!

One thing I haven’t done after this trip is beat myself up about not reaching the summit and I refuse to do so. I managed to overcome my fears, learn some great new skills and have a blast scrambling, that the summit walk was insignificant. I achieved far more than I ever thought I would and for that I am extremely proud. Overall, I give it a 9/10 for views, 5/10 for price as Chamonix is very expensive and the lift passes are pricey, and 9/10 for Icicle who were really helpful, friendly and certainly knew their stuff. a007c75d012c7a1da55050eafbe4a19c6

The future is bright

Dolomites, Italy 2012

So where have I been all this time you are thinking, right? Well, 2012 for me was a fantastic year filled with excitement, travelling, visiting 4 new places (2 new countries), setting up my own business, achieving some amazing dreams (climbing, completing a marathon etc), having lots of fun (seeing Chemical brothers in Italy, Prodigy at the Brixton Academy and drunken nights out), but it was also filled with heartache and great change. Fortunately I am now back on my feet and I feel positive that my life will be even better than it was before.

Mont Blanc 2012 – View from the mountain hut

I am back on the blog and will fill you in on my climbing adventures, including Mont Blanc, Mount Teide and the Dolomites, but for now I want to start looking at my goals for 2013:

– Blog more – I love blogging and sharing stories and tips, but I’ve lacked motivation and passion lately and now that it’s back I want to share again.

– Run more – running has taken a back seat latterly in 2012 and I want to change that in 2013. I’m planning on signing up for a trail running camp in the Alps in September so I need to prepare for that. I still have the Brighton Marathon in April so training for that is starting this week.

– Do more fun things – I want 2013 to be a year of visiting the theatre more, attending more gigs, and going out with friends.

– Travel more – places we plan on going this year are Romania and the carpathian mountains (booked), Crete to relax and do some hiking (booked), Budapest (not yet booked), and Chamonix for trail running course (not yet booked).

– Get involved in more charity work – I’d like to go to Africa this year and help out an HIV/AIDS charity.

Mont Blanc 2012

Mont Blanc 2012

So what have you got planned for 2013?

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