Thursday, 6 September 2007

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?

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