Thursday, 6 September 2007

Emma in Africa and Steph in New York

Ridiculous jet set life we lead ... This summer has gone so fast it's unbelievable. Emma and I now won't see each other until Kathmandu airport on 3rd October. A little surreal seeing as we have about a million things left to organise. I'm sure it'll all fall into place. In the mean time, she's off to lead a trek for Exodus to climb Meru peak and Killimanjaro. So she'll be nicely acclimatised for Nepal. I on the other hand won't be as I'm going shopping in New York and climbing in Corsica - both of which are at sea level. Ah well.

August 2007 - From Tour de Mont Blanc to Surfing in Portugal

The training has already started for next year's Cho Oyu expedition. I'd like to say that means healthy eating, no drinking, no smoking, and early to bed with a good book. However, that's possibly not the Lightfoot-Jackers style, which is more along the lines of last minute decision, late nights, and random adventures. Far more fun!

Coming soon - adventures in Nepal and Thailand ...

We have actually been working pretty hard to get our plans sorted out for this autumn's trip, and are starting to get really excited about the coming year. From trekking peaks in Nepal and climbing on Thai beaches this autumn. Heliskiing and ski touring in Alaska ... through to driving to Russia to climb and ski Elbrus.

Tour de Mont Blanc ...

Inspired by the Ultratrail, Emma and I decided to do the Tour de Mont Blanc ... in 3 days, instead of the usual 'punter rate' of 10. A pretty full on endurance adventure, covering 155km in a circuit around Mont Blanc, and popping into 3 different countries en route.

Day 1 - nearly 14 hours walking from Les Houches, into Contamines and over into Italy and the Elizabetta Hut.
Day 2 - 15 hours walking via Courmayeur (yummy coffees and blister plasters) and over the Col de Seine into Switlerland.
Day 3 - 12 hours via Champex, the Col de Forclaz and the Col de Balme, back into the Chamonix Valley.

We managed to combine 3 days' worth of walking each day, with 4am starts, power walking, and not a lot of rests. An absolutely awesome experience ... although by day 3, my legs had had it, and my feet were (still are) pretty much completely f*cked. Thank god for walking poles! Was a pretty impressive achievement (we think anyway), and cool to chat to people along the way, most of whom didn't believe what we were up to.

We're very pleased that our walking time (37 hours) was actually within the limits of the Ultratail race - although actual Ultrail competitors don't sleep, or eat so we cheated. And the fastest bloke this year - who is 59!!! - still managed to make it round in just 21 hours. Not next year (we'll be heading to Cho Oyu) ... but maybe August 2009 ... I'll have to give it a go. If my feet have recovered by then!

Look out for the video of our comedy adventures.

Monaco ...

Guy and I have been back to Monaco to climb at La Thurbie. It's only 4 hours drive from Chamonix, and great to have a change of scene when the weather's crap in the mountains. The climbing is fab, and nice to catch up with Oli and Sophie again. Also good to get back to the classy Beausoleil hotel - le Diana - as well as stuff our faces in nice restaurants, and indulge in yummy breakfasts at Guy 'creature of habit' Willet's favourite bakery.

Portugal ...

A last minute decision to celebrate Guy's birthday, and get away from the persistent minging weather in Chamonix. Thank God for Eastjet, and last minute cheap deals. Headed to Peniche, just north of Lisbon for a bit of surfing action.

Soooo nice to be at the beach, and attempt to catch some waves. Managed to get properly 'washing machined', a few spectacular bruises, as well as riding one or two decent waves - think I managed to surf some actual green water when the swell had dropped down to girlie size (ie practically flat). Guy can actually surf, in spite of not having been for about 5 years.

Cool to chill out, do some serious sleeping, and drink yummy fresh oj on the beach. Nice to be somewhere where everything is soooo cheap (1euro glasses of wine, I like!). Shame it was so dead at night. But can't have it all.

Cambridge and Chamonix ...

August 4th was Oggie's birthday, so we 'celebrated' as he would have done, by having a boozy picnic on the banks of the river Cam, punting upriver, and scattering his ashes in the meadows.
On the one hand a very sad occasion, but also a lovely day, and good for mum and I to catch up with his friends 6 months on, when the shock of his death has started to wear off for all of us. Mum and Archie have been out to visit in Chamonix at the end of this month - lovely to see them again, just a shame about the sodding RAIN! This is the most miserable August ... looking forward to an Indian summer?

Extreme Chicken Asian Adventure

The Challenge: To climb the 6th highest mountain in the world - and be the first British girls to ski from the summit. Cho Oyu is on the Nepal / Tibet border, and is one of just 14 peaks in the world over 8000m. Only a small handful of people (less than 10) have ever skied from its summit, so our project will be an enormous personal achievement, as well as a British first. It will take us a year to train and prepare for the expedition.

About our Cho Oyu Expedition: The all girl 'Extreme Chicken' expedition will take place in August 2008. It will take up to 10 weeks to reach the summit of Cho Oyu (8200m).

High mountains are dangerous places, and the summit of Cho Oyu is well into 'the death zone', where serious medical conditions can occur if you're not properly acclimatised or your body can't cope. Along with our guides and Sherpas, we will be contending with difficult glacier crossings, rock and ice climbing, possible avalanches, rapidly changing conditions and temperatures, as well as the sheer effort of living at high altitudes for weeks on end. There is nothing easy about climbing Cho Oyu and we will need to be prepared for all manner of difficulties.

Climbing at high altitudes is not just about being fit and strong. Just getting there will take an enormous effort - both mentally and physically. When everything in you is screaming to go down to where the air is thicker and your body can work normally, you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and going up. At least 70% of the challenge is mental.

Skiing from the summit will be a massive buzz. To be the first British girls, and one of only a handful of people ever to achieve this, we’ll be returning to base camp in style! We’re not imagining powder or an easy ride, but just putting a turn or two above 8000m will be something very few people in the world have ever done. Overcoming the odds - the mountain, the weather, and our fear will be the greatest achievement of our lives.

About us: We are Steph Lightfoot and Emma Jack. We met 3 summers ago in the French Alps, sharing our passion for skiing and climbing. Steph lives in Chamonix all year round, where she skis, climbs, runs, hikes, bikes, and is generally up for any kind of adventure. Emma is based in Meribel in the winters, and Chamonix in the summer. An experienced skier and mountaineer, Emma is always the first to say yes to the next hair-brained scheme …

Our training starts now (summer 2007). From climbingMont Blanc, to running the Tour in 3 days (instead of the usual 10) we’re on a mission to be in the best physical shape possible for our adventure. In preparation for Cho Oyu, we will be visiting Nepal in October 07 to set up the trip for next year, as well as trekking to Everest Base Camp, and climbing Mera peak (6400m). Over the winter, we’ll be skiing the steepest, most challenging slopes we can find. And in spring 2008 we’ll be traveling to Alaska to spend 2 weeks camping and ski touring, as well as to ski tour Elbrus, Europe’s highest mountain.

You can keep in touch with us, follow our progress as we train for our adventure, and see our photos & video diary at our blog, or check out

How you can help us achieve our goal: Please make a donation at to help us achieve our goal and help raise as much money as possible for the Samaritans! Without your help, our fundraising challenge won't be possible. Donating through Just Giving is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to sponsor us: Samaritans will receive your money faster and, if you are a UK taxpayer, an extra 28% in tax will be added to your gift at no cost to you. So please sponsor us now!

Big thanks to: Big Thanks to our sponsors for helping to make this dream become real: Salomon, Extreme Sports, Dream Guides, Natives and the Samaritans, who have pledged to help support our expedition*.

Biggest thanks to all the individual people supporting us, and who have sponsored us. It's massively appreciated by both us and The Samaritans.

Many thanks for your help.
Steph & Emma

* The Samaritans have kindly agreed to help make our trip to Cho Oyu a reality. They have pledged to refund some of the training and travel costs we incur in achieving our dream. We guarantee that our project is 100% not for profit.