Today was a first for me....I joined my group and tried 'hydro-speed'! What I hear you ask?.....Well it's what they call jumping in a full flowing river wearing a wetsuit, helmet & fins whilst lying on a type of body-board! In this case the river was the Arve, a glacier fed river flowing pretty quickly through the centre of Chamonix. Our group of 12 with 2 local guides swam and kicked along approximately a 5k stretch of river using nothing more than a body board and the waves. We were taught to spin, dive, turn, and even eskimo roll. What a mad way to spend an afternoon, but what fun! Why - is the next question you might ask?! Well as with all our trips we think it's best that we check out the routes & activities first so that we can offer first hand experience of the activities.
So for the past two weeks I've been joined by two lovely, adventurous families that have come to the Chamonix Valley to explore not just the walking trails with me but have also experienced what else the area has to offer. I've accompanied our families in mountain hut walks, on rafts, horse riding, biking trails, rock climbing, glaciers (with ice-climbing in a crevasse!) and via ferrata. Tomorrow we are getting wet again when we head to one of the valleys canyons. Wish me luck!
Just back from a ten day Tour de Mont Blanc with a great bunch of guys. Interesting for a female guide to deal with an all male team, but they were no trouble! According to Russ he was in no doubt who was in charge! We had great weather for the trip with glorious sunshine and some stunning views of the glaciers and peaks. We were a Scottish guide, two Canadians, two English and an Irishman. I have to say we had great laughs and sent young Cody up a few extra peaks. It's always tricky when one of the team is younger and more energetic than the majority but as a 22 year old Cody coped extremely well with his more mature team mates and totally repaid the trust I placed in him which allowed him to always be a hop, skip and a jump ahead of the rest of the group. He waited at every junction and never once did I feel that he would abuse the 'slack' which allowed him to be a wee bit ahead. If you read this Dad, you should be proud of him. Despite trying to load him down with group kit he still had so much energy. Kevin, the Irishman, was a shining example of someone who had put in so much effort to get fit for the trip, and credit to him for his efforts which more than paid off. Russ and Richard were experts on beer and their sense of humour provided many humours interludes. Anyway, guys - I had a great trip and thanks to you all for your company!
Just back from leading an expedition with 20 Hertfordshire based students to Morocco, the High Atlas Mountains. With stories of mountain summits, riding camels, chameleon sightings, souk surfing, the rewards of manual labour and copious amounts of couscous!
Verulam School from St. Albans were a team of 19 boys, 1 girl & 2 teachers. We began our adventures by taking an early-bird flight to Morocco, North Africa which allowed us a day to relax by the hotel pool and acclimatise to the heat of Marrakesh, some 40 degrees or more! On leaving Marrakesh our team made their way across the Marrakesh plain to the High Atlas Mountains. A short acclimatisation walk there took the group to a view point where we could see the great peaks of the High Atlas, old ice and snow left from winter and the summit of Mount Toubkal, 4,167m, above sea level this was one of the teams’ objectives.
Another goal for them before the trekking phase was to help a village to build a new footpath, each student (and leaders!) took part in the community project carrying bags of, sand, stones and cutting the pathway in this remote mountain village at 2,100m. Walking up hill is hard enough in 40 degree heat let alone with loads on your back too!
The next phase of the trip was their expedition for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. The challenge was 5 days walking and camping under remote supervision, in groups of 6, including the challenging ascent of Mt Toubkal. Mt Toubkal was successfully summited by all students even following some bouts of sickness. We all proudly stood at 4,167m above sea level, looking across to the Sahara desert. A fantastic achievement.
The final phase to the expedition was some well deserved R & R by the sea in the town of Essaouira where the students enjoyed cooling off in the pool and exploring the old town and local shops, or souks. The beach had a very unique atmosphere due to its combination of fishermen, swimmers, quad bikers, kite surfers, camels and horse riding! This is where the team enjoyed riding a camel, saw a chameleon in action and walked with an overnight camp in the dunes before heading back to Marrakesh.
Back in Marrakesh the team were once again welcomed by the overwhelming heat with temperatures of 52-54 degrees! The two days in the town allowed for further souk exploration & bartering, the enchantment of snake charmers, a little sight-seeing, relaxing respite by the pool and a final drink to celebrate a very successful expedition.