Tuesday, 3 December 2013

An account of the incredible Chhubohe Expedition, by the Director of Expedition Wise Ltd.

“Tent tea, tent tea”

It’s 4am on Saturday 16th November 2013, -20°C and I am awoken from my stuttered sleeping pattern inmy tent at Base Camp at 4,600m with the call for morning tent tea.

This is day 15 of our Unclimbed Himalayan Peak Expedition to climb Chhubohe (pronounced “Chub Chay”) and other unclimbed peaks on the Chomochomo Danda range in the Lost Valleys of Nar-Phu. Our 15 days so far were as follows:

1 day flying in; 3 days in Kathmandu organising the permits, buying last minute items of personal kit, sorting out all group climbing kit, and some visiting of the local tourist sites; 3 days trekking along the Annapurna circuit; 3 days trekking into the Lost Valleys area to Base Camp; 2 rest days; 1 day of climbing to summit 2 new unnamed and unclimbed peaks.

Basecamp, with the South West Face of Chhubohe behind
The steaming mug of tea is handed to me by Tendi Sherpa, one of the two climbing Sherpas we have with us; the “us” being Bug Wrightson, a freelance outdoor activities leader, Ian Foster, an outdoor equipment retailer and myself, Brian Jackson, director of  Expedition Wise 

An hour later, Spantik boots have been warmed enough to fit my feet, all clothes and climbing kit has been donned or packed and breakfast porridge eaten, Bug, Pasang Sherpa, Tendi Sherpa and myself set off for the South West face of Chhubohe.  Ian is unfortunately suffering from a chest infection but braves the cold to eat breakfast with us before waving us off.
Map showing Chhubohe in the Lost Valleys
One year previously, I had received the list of the newly opened unclimbed peaks from the Nepalese Ministry of Tourism.  I had selected one main peak in a region north of the Annapurna range in the romantically names “Lost Valleys” – Chhubohe.  There were two reasons for this choice.  Firstly I had not been to the Annapurna region of Nepal and secondly (and far more important), it was the lowest of all the peaks on the list at 5,603m (height TBC upon climbing) which suited me just fine.

Knowing November to be a good month to trek in Nepal, I set the date for the climb as November 2013 and paid for the necessary climbing permit.  Now all I had to do was earn the money for the actual challenge, buy some more kit (never a hardship), recruit some other foolish dreamers and convince my wife that I can take the whole month of November off (after already having been booked to lead charity treks up Kilimanjaro x 2, Simien Mountains in Ethiopia, Elbrus in Russia and Great Wall of China next year).

Bug, Brian & Ian at basecamp, ahead of the Chhubohe ascent
Excited about the adventure of a lifetime (let me backtrack and say that this had been a dream of mine since I was 8 years old – to climb an unclimbed mountain, to walk where no person had ever walked before), I sent out an e-mail to all the Expedition Wise staff asking who would like to join me in this adventure.  I immediately had responses from Bug Wrightson and Ian Foster.  Bug I knew from his working with me on our London to Paris charity cycle rides.  Ian I knew from countless 3 Peaks charity challenges and our “Old Man’s Trip to Elbrus” the previous year.  The team was formed and the challenge set – we were off!

We start walking at 5am on the frozen turf and slate and zigzag our way towards the South West face. I am both confident and anxious.  Confident, as two days previously, Pasang Sherpa and I have already climbed 2 previously unclimbed and unnamed peaks on the Chomochomo Danda range at 5,506m and 5,610m respectively. We named them Jaistai Dada (Just a Hill) and Kaloche (Black Peak – named after Arnold Black, a friend of mine who recently lost his battle with Pancreatic Cancer).  I am therefore confident I can climb to this height.  I am anxious however as I know the snow conditions are appalling (deep non formed sugar crystals) and the worry that the single day of rest may not have been enough for me to recover for this longer, harder climb.  With this not all together positive outlook, I continue on with the team.  

Brian, Bug & Sherpa Pasang en route to summit with Annapurna & Chulu range behind
We take just over 2 hours to reach the South West Face proper and the snow line.  We now all harness up, attach our crampons, don our helmets, tie onto the rope a s a group of 4 and wield our ice axes as we start the actual climb.  Maybe I was mistaken about the snow as the first 10 paces are solid with the reassuring crunch and squeaking sound of solid compact snow.  Step 11, I fall through the crust to my knees in complete powder and realise that it is going to be a long frustrating climb on the face.  We continue as a group of 4, kicking steps, breaking through crust, wading up to our hips, digging a furrow, sometimes swimming in snow to increase our height slowly but surely.  Even when the slope kicks up to 75°, the snow is still fighting us and causing several choice words from both the Sherpas and Bug and I.

Eventually the sun crests the ridge above us and lifts our spirits.  The views are amazing of the Annapurnas behind us set in a pink and orange sky.  The sun causes us to overheat but we are not really in a position to redress as we are now on the steepest section of the South West Face. Pasang Sherpa leads the final steps to the ridge and we all collapse exhausted and extremely hot.  We redress, take on some much needed water, leave our packs behind taking only the essentials for the final push along the South East Ridge to the rock summit of Chhubohe.

Brian and Tendi ascending Chhubohe in deep snow
I want to lead this section so I unrope from the centre and set off to break trail in the very deep snow.  I am soon breathing so heavily that the other 3 laugh at me looking as though I am on fire with the amount of breath condensating around me.  I continue to the top of the ridge within 100m of the actual rock summit and then stop to film the other 3 as they make their way up the ridge to join me.

The final 100m is a narrow ridge of snow and rock with intimidating drops to either side leading to a pulpit of rock on the summit so we all rope up once again and set off on the final section of the climb.  2m from the top, we realise that the summit rock is actually two towers split by a 1m gap; “like Adam & Eve on Tryfan on steroids” says Bug.  We have to jump this gap to reach the summit so we each take a deep breath, steel ourselves, and with the aid of the tensioned rope between us, leap over the chasm to land on our crampons on the rock pulpit.

Sherpa Pasang, Bug & Brian at the summit of Chhubohe

 Wahay!!  Woohoo!!  Amazing!!! We are all standing on top of Chhubohe, a first ascent in the Himalayas.  Congratulations and hugs all around whilst taking care not to fall off the 1m square summit tower down the precipitous 400m snow slope on the one side and the 550m rock and ice cliff on the other.  We check our 2 x GPS’ and get readings of 5,640m and 5,542m so go for the lower of the two readings as the official height.  After lots of photos in our charity t-shirts and banners (I am raising money for Pancreatic Cancer UK www.justgiving.com/brian-jackson2), we take out our prayer flags that have been blessed by the local Lama and start tying them on between the summit tower and the ridge.  We have now placed prayer flags 5kms apart on both the North and South main summits on this range of peaks. 

Brian at Chhubohe summit
We now only need to reverse our route back to return to our Base Camp.  We remain roped as we descend the South West Face, arriving tired, dehydrated but elated after 11hours back to camp.

Thank you to Bug and Ian for a great adventure and to Sherpas Pasang and Tendi for all their guidance, trail breaking and general friendship on this Himalayan First Ascent Expedition.

A huge thank you too, to everyone at home who supported us whilst we were away on the expedition, and your kind generosity to the fundraising for Pancreatic Cancer UK.
Prayer flags that the team assembled at Chhubohe peak 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

No Ordinary Peak. No Ordinary Expedition.

On Saturday 16th November at around 11.45am local time, 4 men stood on a mountain peak in the Nar Phu valley of Nepal, just north of the Annapurna circuit. 

As they stood there, they took in the incredible 360 degree panoramic view of the surrounding peaks of the Himalayas, humbled by the majesty, inspired by the beauty, taking a moment to reflect as to why they were here.

For this was no ordinary peak.  This was no ordinary expedition.

We have, with great pleasure, to announce the fantastic news that Brian, Bug and their Sherpa Passang, along with another guide, have successfully reached the summit of Chhubohe, standing at 5640m.

Chhubohe, as seen on Google Earth

As I am sure you are aware, we have been following the Expedition Wise team, ever since they set off on the Chhubohe Expedition at the beginning of November. We have followed them throughout their adventure, as they left the Annapurna Circuit to enter in to the Nar Phu Valley, descending along the Marsyangdi Nadi and passing through the villages of Meta, Koto and Nar.

They've witnessed some incredible views, admired a multitude of beautiful waterfalls and have been fortunate with the weather, even though it was a bit touch and go at one point with a sudden amount of snow fall! 

They've trekked across boulder fields, crossed suspension bridges made their way up snow filled passes and climbed snowy ridges. They've even celebrated a Birthday whilst up there (Bug’s).

More importantly though, is the fact that they achieved what they set out to, and much more.

One of the aims of the expedition was to summit a previously unclimbed peak, Chhubohe, and that they did!

The other aim was to raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK, a charity close to Brian’s heart having lost a friend to the disease. Fingers crossed the target will be smashed before the team return, as it would make a great ‘Welcome Home’ surprise for them!

It was here, in the Nar Phu Valley, that Brian also took the opportunity to climb another unclimbed peak, which was actually unnamed as well.

So, prior to the Chhubohe ascent, Brian and Sherpa Passang made their way to a peak close by, where they successfully reached the summit of the 5610m mountain on the 14th of November.

Brian named the mountain ‘Kaloche’ which translates as the ‘Black Peak’, in memory of his friend Arnold Black.

We are so proud of the team and this incredible effort, and look forward to updating you all about their trek back to Kathmandu, before heading back to the UK at the end of the month. We also cannot wait to hear the whole story of their adventure and see the amazing photos! 

We will be sure to share them with you all too, so keep following on Twitter (@ExpeditionWise) & on our Facebook page!

You can also support Brian’s fundraising for Pancreatic Cancer UK by finding out more information and how to donate here.

In the meantime we would like to once again congratulate the team on this great achievement and wish them and safe return home!!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Choosing a Charity Challenge

What’s your dream? Is it to summit Africa’s highest peak, or are you looking for a diverse challenge which takes you on a journey through different cultures? Perhaps you have always wanted to complete the UK 3 Peak Challenge or immerse yourself in the historical Hadrian’s Wall Trek; with so many to choose from the choice really is yours, but where do you begin?

Cycling Charity Challenges

Choosing a Charity Challenge can be extremely daunting, but knowing that you definitely want to do one means your half way there. Firstly, you need to think about time constraints, such as time off work, or away from the family, which will determine whether you choose a challenge that is shorter rather than a long one. 

You also have to factor in the destination, are you happy to travel far overseas involving a flight, or would you prefer a UK based challenge, where flying is not involved? Such challenges could also include our 'London to Paris' or 'London to Amsterdam Cycle Challenge'.

Kilimanjaro Trek

Charity Challenges are all about testing yourself and pushing through your own preconceived limits. However, you need to be realistic; if you absolutely detest camping then maybe a trek where you will be regularly sleeping under canvas, is not for you. If the thought of riding a bike for days fills you with absolute horror, you may want to give the Cycle Challenges a (excuse the pun) swerve.

Once you have your heart set on a challenge and understand the commitment, it is time to think about the fundraising target. Are you aiming to raise a substantial amount which will involve a lot of time, motivation, effort and innovation, or are you looking to start off with a less demanding charity fundraising target? Either way, every amount will help your chosen cause, and the charities themselves will be so thankful for all your hard work and fundraising efforts.

Though the fundraising target can be overwhelming to begin with, as long as you are committed, enthusiastic and organised you will no doubt smash your target. For Fundraising ideas see our ‘Fundraising tips’ blog post later on in the month. 

Remember to give yourself plenty of time and be organised, as this will help ensure you reach your fundraising target.

One very important thing not to forget is training and preparation for the event. Always give yourself plenty of time to get physically ready for the challenge, as this will help you get mentally prepared as well. The actual Challenge can be daunting enough, but if you feel you have trained and prepared as much as you possible can, it will enable you to approach it with confidence.

This includes being up to date with any medication/jabs you may need for an overseas challenges.

The most important thing to remember to do on the actual challenge is to enjoy it! Though there may be times where you are finding it incredibly tough and overwhelming, keep your focus on why you are doing the challenge and let this motivate you to keep going! There will be people with you experiencing the same thing, so help support and encourage each other and share the incredible experience together.

Dolomites Cycle Challenge 

Let’s not forget also that there is no such thing as a silly question, so should you have a query or enquiry then do please ask. Here at Expedition Wise we are very happy to answer any questions about your chosen Charity Challenge and look to support you along the way.

With all this in mind, have a look at the Charity Challenges we offer and join us on a future Expedition Wise Charity Challenge!Find out more www.expeditionwise.com 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Chhubohe Expedition 2013: One peak, two goals - to reach the summit & raise funds for charity!

On Thursday 7th November 2013, the Expedition Wise Team will start off on their incredible expedition to conquer an unclimbed peak in Nepal. Located north of the Annapurna range, the magnificent ‘Chhubohe’, stands at 5.640m (18,503ft) in the Naar Phu valley. The area is also known as the ‘Lost Valley’.

The Naar Phu Valley is the most remote of the Manang District and access is granted only with the purchase of a special permit. Few westerners have explored this area, or the virtually untouched villages of Nar & Phu, where the residents make their livelihood mainly from herding yak and trading meat & wool with the villages in the lower Manang region. This magnificent area is also known to have the world’s highest concentration of snow leopard per square kilometer!

The team, consisting of Brian Jackson, Ian Foster & Bug Wrightson, will start their first day trekking to the village of Jagat, situated above the Marsyangdi Khola (river), where they will stay for the night before trekking for 5-6hrs to Dharapani. They will continue the 7 day trek passing through alpine pastures, remote villages and traversing the region’s high passes, before crossing rugged and isolated terrain eventually arriving at Base Camp. Here, they will stay for a few days, exploring the area, before the final push to climb Chhobohe! It will then take another week to arrive back in Kathmandu, before returning to the UK having been away for a month!!

This is an incredible feat for the team, and to summit an unclimbed peak will be amazing! This, however, is not the only aim of the expedition.

 As Expedition Wise Director, Brian is well experienced in helping others achieve their Charity Challenge goals, whether it be summiting Kilimanjaro or cycling from London to Paris. Now it is time for him to take on his own incredible challenge to raise money for the charity, Pancreatic Cancer UK, a charity close to his heart as he has sadly lost a dear friend to the disease.

Whilst Brian and the team are out on this demanding journey, we will keep you updated as to how they are doing. Fingers crossed we will have the fantastic news that they team have reached the summit mid November!

For all of us here, it would awesome is if we could tell Brian that he has surpassed his fundraising target on his return, & here’s how you can help!

Please follow their journey on Twitter (@ExpeditionWise) and our Facebook page and spread the word of this amazing expedition!

While they dig deep on the snowcapped peak, please dig deep too and help Brian raise
as much as possible for Pancreatic Cancer UK, by donating via the Chhubohe Expedition Just Giving Page!

Together, let’s make this a truly successful expedition in all respects!!

Thank you on behalf of Brian, Ian, Bug & all the Expedition Wise Team!!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Ghosts of the Mountains

With Halloween not far off, the conversation in the Expedition Wise office has turned to spooky experiences on the hills. Mountains are often reported as places where strange things happen, sometimes with the mention of ghostly sightings and spooky experiences. Is this due to the conditions experienced when out on the hills or are they filled with ghosts of those who loved the mountains too?

Summits can be lonely places, especially in poor weather when less people venture out, yet people have been walking over them for thousands of years. From the Romans, Scottish Clans, and shepherds of past times, to soldiers, miners and hikers; the foot fall on the Hills of Great Britain is immense. Not to mention the tragic stories of folk who have lost their lives on the mountains in accidents, airplane crashes, and those whose final resting place has been on the summits themselves. It’s not surprising that there are many ghost stories and sightings associated with these hills. 

Mountains can be quite spooky!
As I am sure you know, when it has been a long day, the weather isn't great, visibility is rubbish and you are getting tired your mind can play tricks on you. Whether it is footsteps heard from behind you, voices on an empty peak, Ghost Dogs, or seeing things which suddenly disappear, mountains are often places of unexplained experiences.

Let’s look at the some of the UK's most renowned Mountain Ghost Stories:

Haunted Hills

Ben Macdhui is the highest peak in the incredible Cairngorms and the second highest peak in Scotland. It is also home to the legendary 'Fear Liath Mor', the Big Grey Man, a fearsome entity known to stalk anyone who would dare enter their territory, scaring even the most brave and experienced mountaineers. First experienced in 1891, where crunching footsteps followed climber Professor Norman Collie, there have been numerous accounts since of strange sightings of a large grey man followed by unexplained feeling of sheer terror. There have been many reports of ghostly laughter, strange phenomenons and eerie sightings connected to this mountain that asks the question, is this the most haunted peak in the UK?

Not far from the Expedition Wise office lies the Clywdian Range, a chain of purple heather-clad summits, featuring ancient hill forts and home to many myths and legends. It would seem that it is also home to many ghosts, with many sightings seen on the highest peak, Moel Famau. From a girl seen dancing near the summit, accounts of a wartime soldier and a mysterious gentleman offering helpful advice, all were seen only to then disappear.

Creigiau Gleision:

Colin Adams has written guidebooks to the Welsh hills, of which he has spent most of his life exploring, both during his time in the Army and at leisure. It was on one of these welsh peaks that he had his first strange experience, which continued overtime as he regularly returned to Creigiau Gleision.

Over a good number of years, and many ascents of this peak, he would hear someone speak to him but could never see the person at the summit. The first time the voice spoke in welsh, but on many occasion afterwards it was in English with a Gwynedd accent, often asking him how he was, and how good it was to see him again. Though it didn't always speak to him, and would never answer questions that Colin asked, the voice could often be heard on the lonely peak.

The Rhinogydd Mountain Range

The Rhinogydd Range features two main peaks, Rhinog Fawr & Rhinog Fach, which lay amongst a vast wilderness in Wales. A popular route begins at a mediaeval packhorse trail known as the Roman Steps. Though they are not actually Roman themselves there has been many accounts of seeing and hearing a ghostly troupe of Roman Soldiers with mules climbing up the steps. Legend has it that anyone who follows these soldiers will be led to a secret stash of gold! Though no one can verify this as true (unless they have kept the treasure find to themselves), keep your eye out for them next time you are in the area!

This popular peak in Wales is shrouded with myth and legend and it’s often said that the mountain is the Chair of Idris, a giant who frequented the land in ancient times. The well known legend that ‘anyone who spends the night alone on the mountain will either die, become insane or become a poet’ has many times been put to the test over the years by keen climbers and mountain lovers. Whether it has been proved true or otherwise it still to be seen!

There are also many accounts of strange light phenomena associated with the mountain.

Souther Fell: The Site of the Ghost Army

Souther Fell is found between Keswick and Penrith in the Lake District. Though a beautiful, easy going hill, it has a chilling history associated to it. Many times throughout the mid-1700s a ghost army was seen along the ridge, each occasion taking place on Midsummer’s eve. Many of those who retold the tale were not to be believed until 26 (sober) people gathered on the peak on Midsummer’s eve of 1975. Here they saw the ghostly troops on horseback, making their way up the fell only to be seen riding over the cliff. When they returned the next day they could see no physical evidence of the army and it is believed they were ghosts of those who had fled the battle of Culloden, who then launched themselves off the cliff.

Ghostly Dog....... ;)

Hills shrouded with myths, legends and folklore, it’s easy to let your imagination run away with you. That feeling of been watched, followed by the sound of a woman screaming, only to turn quickly around and see the creepiest looking site….a chamois or mountain goat! (If you have ever seen and heard a mountain goat I am sure you will agree, they have a creepy looking stare and a vocal that can make your hair stand on end).

So next time you are out on the hills and you see or hear something strange ask yourself this – is it the weather, the fact that you are weary, tired or alone......or is there something else out there!

If you have any spooky experiences on the mountains we would love to hear them! Please let us know via our twitter account @ExpeditionWise

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

An Amazing Autumnal Erddig 10k!

What a fantastic way to spend a Sunday, running through autumnal woodland and stunning surroundings!

This is exactly what hundreds of people did this weekend as the took part in the Erddig 10k. Set in grounds of the beautiful National Trust’s Erddig Estate, the event saw people from all over the local area come to take part and though the weather was overcast, it didn't deter the runners. Nor did it stop the spectators providing words of encouragement, adding to the great atmosphere. 

The family friendly event began with a lively warm up provided by DW Sports Wrexham which ensured all the participants in the 10k, 5k and 2k fun run option were raring to go! 

As the countdown began the runners eagerly anticipated the starting claxon, before they set off with the 10k runners first, followed by the 5k and 2k fun runners. The route skirted around the house, before leading into the woods, at which point the 10k & 5k participants took the woodland trail, which was adorned with autumn leaves, and thankfully not too much mud!

 The route then continued taking in a road section before rejoining the woodland, only to be finished with a short, steep hill just before the finish point. 

Here the 5k runner celebrated their well deserved glory, but not forgetting to shout words of encouragement to the 10k runners who were to continue a second lap before they could celebrate their finish! For both the 5k & 10k, there were many runners who had surpassed their personal best times, which just added to the sheer joy of taking part!

The 2k Fun Run option had a brilliant turn out and it was great to see so many youngsters taking part with real enthusiasm and determination! What a great achievement for them as they proudly displayed their finisher's medals!

This was a great event with challenging but enjoyable running distances, and saw the participants raise over £300 for the Erddig Estate charity! A real family friendly event where everyone could get involved!

Thank you to everyone who participated, helped on the day and supported the event! More photos are available on our Flickr & Facebook page.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Ready to start the 7 summits challenge?

Brian, the Expedition Wise Ltd. director and founder, has been leading expeditions across the globe for over 20 years helping hundreds of people achieve their personal goals, whether that be reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro or trekking along ancient monuments such as the Great Wall of China.  In this time Brian has amassed a wealth of expedition and mountaineering knowledge and is always keen to share this with others for their benefit.
In 2014 Brian will be leading two exclusive mountain expeditions to 2 of the 7 highest summits on each continent, Kilimanjaro in Africa and Mount Elbrus in Europe.  Having successfully summited Kilimanjaro 17 times and Elbrus 3 times Brian is the ideal team leader and you can benefit from all his experience and intimate understanding of each mountain by signing up to join him. 
If you would join us on either of these expeditions or like to learn more about reaching the top of Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain in the world or the magnificent snow capped peak of Elbrus in the Caucasus mountains, please e-mail us on the address below.

Please also take a moment to take a look at Brian's Just Giving page below for his upcoming first ascent expedition to the Himalayas and please give what ever you can.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

A very busy summer

Well it has been a fantastic few months for us here at Expedition Wise with teams quite literally across the whole of Europe challenging themselves on foot and bike.

In July the JDRF Global Cycle Challenge team set off from the pretty village of Vaz on the edge of the Dolomite mountains with the route and challenge laid out before them.  The group set off to tackle the first day, a mere 120km with 2800m of climbing.  This was followed by 102km and 2200m on day 2 and a gentle final day of 116km and 3200m.  So over the entire 3 day challenge route the group had cycled nearly the same height as Everest!  In addition to this they also have to date raised an phenomenal $260,000 for JDRF which is truly amazing.

Also during July, back here in the UK we ran a number of challenges including a team raising funds to support Walkabout were taking on the demanding 3 peaks challenge which encompasses the 3 highest points in Scotland, England and Wales which adds up to an equally astonishing 26 miles and over 3000m of ascent. The Transaid team enjoyed some stunning views during their Snowdon memorial climb, followed but some equally fantastic food and drink afterwards.  We are especially proud of the Investec Ashes Cycle Challenge that visited all the grounds used in the Ashes series, culminating at Lords the day before the completion started.  This covered some of the best countryside in the UK and covered over 330 miles.  We were joined but some truly brilliant cyclists, which included the cricketing legend Mike Gatting who say a little about the event here.

Then this last month saw Brian lead a small team to successfully summit Elbrus in Georgia, one of the 7 summits.  The team had to struggle with several days of poor weather and heavy snow fall which saw a number of avalanches high on the mountain.  A number of teams decided to descend but with Brian keen eye  noticed a chance of a weather window so they grabbed this with both hands and reached the summit in the early morning and were safely back down at the base for dinner.  We will be returning next year so please get in touch if you would like to join us.

Finally we have just had our last London to Paris event for the year to come home after more fantastically challenging weather, this didn't dilute the amazing cycling through the Hampshire countryside then down through the rolling fields of Northern France via Dieppe and into the bustling capital of Paris, finishing beneath the iconic Eiffel Tower.  Well done to everyone who took part. 

There is no rest for the wicked though as we still have several more cycle challenges taking place this month as well as the epic Brutal, a double iron man distance triathlon!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

100% success for London 2 Paris!

Our season of cycling events all kicked off on 7th June with our first London to Paris ride.  

With 40 participants representing charities including Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Princess Alice Hospice, Cornwall Hospice Care we enjoyed a rather dramatic ride out from the edges of London at York House toward the south coast with thunder storms on the horizon.

But everyone worked really hard and enjoyed the rural roads leading through the home counties.

 The weather for day 2 was kinder and the teams got to enjoy the sights and sounds of Northern France and very quickly got into the swing of cycling in France.

With the miles racking up quickly spirits were high and even though there were a few punctures, 8 for one rider alone, the smiles were plentiful as they kept the wheels spinning and edged closer to Paris.

The final ride into Paris was as magical as ever, with a few laps of the city passing the honey pot attractions of Champs Elysees and L'Arche De Triomphe finishing up beneath the iconic Eiffel Tower.

A supreme effort from everybody and a great first cycle event for the year so why not join us on 23rd August for our next open event and experience it all for yourself.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Kili in the Sun!

After my previous two treks up Kilimanjaro being in constant rain, I had lost some belief in the dry seasons in East Africa actually existing anymore.  However, I should not have doubted the weather as on this challenge, we had the best weather I have ever had on any of my previous 16 successful Kilimanjaro climbs. Even summit night, we were trekking in almost zero wind and balmy temperatures of minus 5-7.

Not only did this challenge re-inspire me because of the fantastic weather, allowing us superb views at all times, but also as it is was early in the season after the May rains all the camps were very quiet and we had the surprise of a private summit for more than 30 minutes!
I had the privilege of leading a great group of friends raising money for Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) on behalf of The Ultimate Travel Company.

I did find it hard this year what with my training involving a week spent snorkelling and drinking in Ibiza for my wife’s 40th – not the best training schedule I must admit and contra to my normal no alcohol for 2 weeks before any high altitude trek.
However, all in all a fantastic challenge and really enjoyable so get out there and challenge yourselves this year.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Expedition Wise team to climb unconquered Himalayan summit

This year is the 60th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.  Inspired by this historic achievement, this November our Director, Brian Jackson and 2 other Expedition Wise staff, Ian Foster and Bug Wrightson, are attempting to ascend an unclimbed mountain in Nepal.

The 3 intrepid explorers will head out to a recently opened up area of Nepal north of the Annapurna range taking up to 9 days to trek in, 7 days to climb and 7 days to trek out again.

They will attempt to be the first ever people to climb Chhubohe (5,603m/18,383ft).
Brian is specifically raising money for Pancreatic Cancer UK, as he recently lost a friend to pancreatic cancer.  If you wish to support him in his fundraising, please click on the link to his Just Giving page and click on Donate. 

100% of all funds raised will go directly to the charity as Brian is paying for the challenge himself.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Ethiopia Simien Mountains – 2013

Our Director has once again been off leading a Charity Challenge expedition to the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia, now his 5th expedition to these parts.

Well, what a difference a year makes!

In 2012 at each camp there were between 10 – 20 people queuing for medical attention but this year, with the new Arkwasiye clinic, (paid for by a previous Charity Challenge trek group – BDO Stoy Hayward) there were only a handful of people at each campsite.  This is fantastic news for the region.

This year, our Director was leading a group raising money for AfriKids (projects for young people on the streets in Ghana) whilst trekking for 8 days through the Simien mountains from West to East and summiting Ras Dashen, the highest peak in Ethiopia and 4th highest in Africa on route.

Expecting the usual 35 - 40 degrees of heat each day, the group were very surprised by the first rains in living memory to fall in the Simien Mountains in March, the driest month of the dry season!!  The group encountered snow, hail, thunder, lightning and rain which goes to show that there are no 100% confirmed seasons any more around the world.  The group did well to manage this surprise weather and it actually made the overall trek far more manageable in the lower temperatures of between 20 - 30 degrees.

Monday, 8 April 2013

We Did This!!!

2012 was an amazing year when we facilitated the raising of more than £560,000 for different charities across the UK and overseas.

Each year, we choose a different charity to support with a percentage of any profit that we make as a company.  Last year, it was AfriKids (working with children on the street in Ghama); this year we have chosen to support Maranatha Gateway, working in Uganda.

They are working to set up a Vocational Training Centre in Sozi, Kalangala on the Ssese Islands on Lake Victoria in Uganda. Sozi (Luganda for a rocky hill) is a small peninsula of jungle and oil palm plantations on the east coast of Bugala Island, Uganda. This is one of the beautiful Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria – just 40 miles off the mainland.

Maranatha Gateway intends to train people in the following skills:

·       Brick making, Building and Carpentry to help them build better homes
·       Crop Growing for better eating and also potentially for selling
·       Animal Husbandry (Goats) to help a sustained income
·       Tilapia Breeding (a local fish) again for eating and selling
·       Basic Engine Maintenance mainly for motor bikes and outboard motors
·       Basic Numeracy as many locals have never learnt counting and measuring
·       Basic English as this is the country’s main official language

We want to thank all of you who have taken part in any challenge, pre-expedition training weekend, medical first aid course, or other event with us this year as you have helped support this charity
We have specifically bought a jeep for the charity and are looking at supporting other innovations such as solar power, wind power and building projects.