Expeditions and Expedition Planning
Following a weekend Expedition Seminar held at Plas-y-brenin, I get all excited about organising my own expeditions. One destination stands out - Greenland. Mentioning this casually to a few climbing friends I receive a startling response. Everyone's up for it.'Look at this Tanya, there's an Expedition Seminar at Plas-y-brenin this weekend!' I literally mean this as an observation, but Tanya has not been negotiating school.
'You can go if you want.' Eh? Just like that?
'The house will be less messy without you in it, and I can spend time with the Boy...' by which point I am not listening as I fill in an online form.
Off I go, and absorb several key pieces of information:-
1. Some people are a fuck of a lot better than I am at IT, particularly maps
2. The main obstacle to going on some once in a lifetime expedition seems to be people's lack of willingness to do what it is they really want to. Especially if no one has given them permission they don't actually need and haven't asked for (I am not talking about permission in the more legal sense of border permits and travel permits. You DO need those).
3. Pakistan, Tajekistan, Khazakstan and Afghanistan look great places to climb, so does Alaska, Greenland and Patagonia.
4. It would be wise to start with a guided expedition to the Himalayas via Nepal, after attaining competence in Alpine climbing.
At the wall, I mention the seminar to a few mates.
Tom Wilkinson reveals that his life's ambition is to tow a sledge through the Antarctic. I point out that Greenland is in the Arctic. 'Well. Close enough.'
I resolve to phone a contact who organises expeditions to Greenland. This seems like a sensible first step, but just before I do, I actually check his website. This answers all my questions, so I don't phone. I cannot decide whether this is good because I haven't wasted his time, or bad because I do not feel like I have actually committed any time and effort. I realise if I start worrying about shit like this I will never go.
Back at the wall we all have a very sober discussion about the real risks of arctic travel.
'As long as we all come back safely. There are three rules - 1. Come Home, 2. Stay Friends, 3. Summit if you have to.'
'Can I add a 4th rule? Its okay not to come home as long as you freeze in a cool pose.'
We spend ten minutes practising cool poses to freeze into: Tom Wilkinson goes for a look of resigned nobility, mine is with fingers locked into a 'Blood' gang sign, although I concede that frostbite might affect this.
Meanwhile Tom Boyd has been staring into the distance. He turns to me and his eyes are glazed. 'Basically, if you want to do anything - ANYTHING - out of the ordinary and a bit dangerous - count me in.' He works in insurance. I can't decide whether this means he takes a calculated and sensible attitude to risk, or whether he goes nuts on the weekend.
To be continued...