Aug 31, 2013

Sherpa Adventure Gear: "Everest Uncovered" - Lecture Tour Edinburgh, Manchester & London - October Dates Announced!

Ok, so clearly I’m super stoked to be sitting alongside Kenton Cool and Lakpa Rita Sherpa, two peers from the Sherpa Adventure Gear athlete team for the forthcoming Lecture Tour, Everest Uncovered. 

Having said that, I’m also uber, uber nervous… and it’s prompted some serious reflection. Who am I as an ‘outdoor affectionado’ (as I don't consider myself a hardened mountaineer!) and what messages can I share which complement the messages of these incredible athletes..? 

Both Kenton and Lakpa Rita are internationally renowned legends in the world of mountaineering – both on and off the mountain. I’m just a girl who, by chance, fell into climbing 5 years ago when walking up mountains seemed just as enjoyable as skiing down them... and I couldn't afford the lift ticket!

Lakpa Rita Sherpa was 2013 Outside Magazine Adventurer of the year. He has reached the summit of Everest 17 times, Cho Oyu 12 times, Pumori twice, as well as Shisapangma and Ama Dablam. He has also climbed Mt. Vinson, Denali, Aconcagua and attempted K2 and the south face of both Annapurna and Shishapagma. Clearly he has a penchant for altitude..!

Kenton Cool is a bit of a legend in his own right (understatement of the year!). He’s the first European to summit Everest 11 times and the first non-Asian to summit Everest twice in one week. His achievements hit the headlines earlier this year when he summited Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse in one week. Additional accolades include guiding Sir Ranulph Fiennes to the summit of Everest and the Eiger (raising £3m for Marie Curie Cancer Care) and holding the title of being the only Briton to ski down two 8000m mountains. 

Between them, these men share a total of 28 Everest summits and a unique outlook on the history and future of the world’s highest peak.

So clearly, I think that they're pretty cool and pretty interesting people...

So who am I and what can I tell you about Everest..?

Whilst I have spent about 6 months of my life on Everest (both on the North and the South over the span of 3 climbing seasons) I'm certainly not your ‘typical’ mountaineer…and I certainly don't have my wikki page!!  I do lots of ‘stuff’ that I’ve been fortunate enough to do thanks to some very flexible employers and supportive family and friends who have tolerated my outdoor-addiction - combined with a pretty strong work ethic. Achievements beyond my job as a management consultant at Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) include having had the opportunity to spend time on the flanks of mountains including Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Cholatse, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Mera Peak, Island Peak, Lobouche East, Kyajo Ri and skiing and climbing extensively in the Alps.  I’ve also managed to sneak in a few non-altitude driven cheeky little adventures such as cycling 500kms across Tanzania, 7500kms across Canada, dragon boat racing down the Thames, white water rafting on the Bhote Kosi and Karnali rivers in Nepal, walking 100kms / 24 hours for the Trailwalker Challenge....  

The lessons I’ve learned on these journeys and the people that I’ve met along the way have allowed me to draw from my experiences and work with both internationally recognised alpinists and leaders in the finance sector to develop parallels between leadership lessons learned and challenges faced on a mountain and those faced by businesses today.

Somehow I've made all this fit - amazing what you can do with your time if you're dedicated to setting and achieving goals..!

So what’s my message going to be?

Good question… I’m pretty average – I have 24 hours in my day just like the rest of the world. In those 24 hours per day, I’ve made good decisions, I’ve made bad decisions, I’ve gained a lot in life-experiences but have sacrificed an equal amount… My collection of strappy shoes and oversized handbags is nearly as extensive as my collection of mountain boots and padded-out packs. But everyone has their ‘thing’. 

One thing that seems to have worked in my favor has been my ‘can do’ attitude. I find myself saying, ‘yes, why not, I’ll give that a shot’ more often than I say ‘no, I can’t do it’. This attitude filters across all aspects of my life – both at work and on the mountain. It’s required a lot of courage, commitment and discipline…. And some creativity

And this attitude ultimately led me to the mountains where I discovered myself and met a plethora of people who have truly inspired me and continue to inspire me every day.

I've often been asked if climbing has become an obsession… I’d certainly argue no. I think that my ‘obsession’ is pursuing things that I feel passionate about – which I have an uncanny knack of ‘packaging’ as adventures. I love climbing but it’s not an obsession in its own right. Climbing, like my job, serves as a vehicle that enables me to challenge myself emotionally, mentally and physically. I plan adventures every day but these adventures are as much about self-discovery and awareness as they are about physical challenges.

For example, I’m currently planning my ‘adventure’ for the Spring, then I’ve got a big challenging work-project to tackle while planning for my next assignment followed by organizing an expedition to lead a group of women to climb Kilimanjaro. Scattered between these milestone events are adventures like learning how to use my new iphone and meeting my new goddaughter.

So, I haven’t quite figured out what I’m going to say or how I’m going to say it but I have some ideas and look forward to taking some of the experiences I've had and people that I've met and contributing to this fascinating evening of discussion and debate.

If you’re interested in a fun evening out, fancy learning something about Everest, and possibly discovering something about yourself in the process, I encourage you to come out for the evening..! Details can be found on the Sherpa Adventure Gear website.

Really looking forward to sharing an enjoyable evening with you..!

EVEREST UNCOVERED: Lecture Tour dates

Tuesday 22nd October 2013 – George Square Lecture Theatre, Edinburgh  
Thursday 24th October 2013 – University Place, Manchester
Friday 25th October 2013 – Royal Geographical Society, London

Doors Open at 6pm, lecture starts at 7pm. 

Aug 27, 2013

Feel-good endorphins reactivated after a weekend in Chamonix

There's nothing like heading out into the great outdoors to awaken the senses. After even just a few minutes outside the grass just seems greener, the sun seems brighter, and somehow challenges which seemed gargantuan before now seem so much more manageable... 

Anyone who has gone for a run around Hyde Park, a climb up Ben Nevis or enjoyed the snowy slopes of Whistler or Chamonix would certainly be able to relate to the (not surprising) findings from a recent study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, conducted by a team at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry which found that exercise in natural environments was linked to greater feelings of revitalisation, increased energy and positive engagement. Levels of tension, confusion, anger and depression were found to be lowered by exercising outside.

I was feeling the 'need' for some of these feel-good endorphins at the start of last week so immediately gave my good friend and Chamonix-based guide Isabelle Santoire a call to see if she could squeeze me in for some 'fresh air therapy'. 

Needless to say, Isa delivered and the weather did as well - despite arriving in Chamonix to an orchestra of torrential rain, thunder and lightening show which would have made Danny Boyle sit up and take notes... 

The forecast remained bleak so we decided for a straight forward walk up to the Charles 1er hut on La Tour to see how the weather would pan out. Our plan was to do some scrambling on ridges near the hut and then climb the Aiguille du Tour - a nice easy and straightforward climb (plod!). 

I'm not sure if it was the good karma generated by helping with the dishes that night in the busy hut or whether we just had some good ol'fashioned luck as we were greeted by clear, starry, moonlit skies at 4.30am as we set out for the summit. The conditions were exquisite - crunchy snow, mild temperatures and not a soul to be seen. I was reminded with each step why I love the balancing-feeling of being outside, in the hills, doing something I love.

Feel-good endorphins clearly reactivated!!

Happy that the sun is finally beginning to appear 
Doing dishes in the kitchen at the Charles 1er hut
Isa and our AMAZING Argentinian kitchen staff!

Hot tea after a wet walk up to the hut
Stellar climbing conditions