They don’t call this place Big Sky country for no reason – photos just can’t do it justice and we have completely lucked out with the weather and the time of year. It is quieter than just a few weeks earlier and the wide open roads are ours alone. Well, and the monster trucks cruising around..
Two days to go until I get on a plane and fly to Nepal for my biggest adventure yet, running the Annapurna Circuit, a 220km trek in the Nepalese Himalayas. The kit I take on this is going to be crucial to the success of the run; too heavy and I will be slowed down, too light and I risk the dangers of exposure at high altitude. I am proud to share that I am teaming up with Haglofs for clothing, Powertraveller for solar power, and LED Lenser for lighting on this adventure.
On the 2nd March, I am going to be heading to Nepal to take on what will be my biggest challenge yet – a solo, self-supported run of the Annapurna Circuit. At 200km, with 10,000m of ascent, and with a high point of 5,416m, I am in for a whole world of firsts. My first time to Nepal, my first time to over 5,000m, my first time running that distance, and, my first big adventure without Sophie. Yikes!
I’m standing at a belay looking up at the clear blue skies as Pat and Graeme sort out the gear for the next section of the climb we are on. 7 months ago I didn’t know either of these guys but I’ve been working hard at making friends and, already, we have confidence in each other, a relaxed atmosphere, and enjoyable banter – key ingredients for an amazing day out.
(Edit: Added a seventh, Something that helps others)
Christmas is fast approaching and the panic of getting the right present of Sophie is creeping in. Every Christmas, birthday, and anniversary is the same; she not-so-casually drops hints and I do my best to remember them. I do, however, like to get her something that she might not have thought of, something that I see as really her. This brings an element of risk into the gift giving scenario and honestly gives me sleepless nights.
As I have been thinking of what I can get her this Christmas, I’ve been remembering all the wonderful gifts we have given each other over the years. They have fallen into 6 sections and I wanted to share them with you here, to hopefully give you a little inspiration too.
Please do send any suggestions you might have as time is running out..!
Winter has well and truly arrived and, with a brief break in the snow, I decided I needed to check out this Microadventure game that so many people have been enjoying (Sophie’s night out and Anna McNuff’s many microadventures). With so much going through my mind recently, I knew some quality own-time would be greatly appreciated. It seemed an easy choice to make. It turns out the harder choice was staying.
It is not uncommon following a big adventure or challenge to crash and to experience the post adventure blues. Focusing on one objective for so long and the void completing it leaves can be hard to fill. Add to that the physical and emotional hangover, and your body’s fight to get back to normality and it’s safe to say that it is a real rollercoaster.
In the final days of the Alpine Coast to Coast, Sophie felt confident that, with so much lined up after the adventure, this might be the time when she sneakily sidesteps the blues and doesn’t have that massive crash. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t happen and Sophie had a very tough week following our arrival in Monaco. We both knew exactly what was happening and did our best to ride the waves of emotion, physical exhaustion, and fears of what next.
Sophie is on the final stretch of an adventure we started 31 days ago, the Alpine Coast to Coast, an epic journey from the eastern end of the Alps to Monaco via the summits of the highest mountains in each of the 8 Alpine states. Sophie has cycled nearly every mile alone, in rain, wind, cloud, and sometimes even sun. Upon reaching the feet of the mountains, we have then teamed up and tackled 7 major climbs in what has been the worst weather the Alps has seen in decades.
This morning, at 2.30am, Sophie slipped in the toilets of the Tete Rousse hut and badly knocked her thigh. The shock and pain forced us to rethink our Mont Blanc summit attempt. A worry at the back of both our minds was ‘what would everyone say?’. Thank you for being so understanding and supportive.
The little fingers on both my hands had gone numb an hour ago, I tried to warm them up as we came over the final section of the summit ridge but it was too cold. As we stepped onto the summit of the Dufourspitze, the highest mountain in Switzerland at 4638m, I saw Sophie was shaking. We needed to get down fast.
It’s raining. More than it’s rained thus far but also, most importantly and worryingly, we are at the foot of the second biggest mountain of our trip – the Dufourspitze. At 4,634m, our next objective is the second highest peak in the Alps and a serious undertaking.
But anyway, what about the last 6 days, hey? I am being rather honest here, it has been tough. Sophie and I have had some ups and downs but it really feels like we’re making progress.
We’re back in Kals am Grossglockner after what can only be described as one of the best alpine climbs I’ve been on, climbing the Stüdlgrat on the Grossgockner. 4 hours of stunning alpine rock climbing takes you up to the 3798m summit of the highest point in Austria, the second peak in Challenge Sophie and my Alpine Coast to Coast.
Here is a video of our climb:
Driving away from Sophie from the foot of Triglav onto the next mountain, Grossglockner, it’s hard to fully appreciate that we are finally doing this. We are finally on our biggest adventure yet, the Alpine Coast to Coast, an idea we came up with together for Sophie to step up her Challenge Sophie accomplishments and a once in a lifetime adventure for us to enjoy together.