Tag Archives: adventure

The Vallée Blanche: An Unforgettable Day

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“The starting point of all achievement is desire”

Napolean Hill

I’m not what you’d expect from a girl who’s lived in Chamonix for 4 months. You’d think I’d be a whizz on the skis by now but I’m not afraid to admit that I remain pretty average… Some things click, others don’t and that old chestnut, fear, hasn’t quite been conquered slope-side yet. Which is what made yesterday all the more magical.

A Journey Into The Unknown

Doing The Vallée Blanche, Chamonix’s well-known off-piste ski route – 20km long with a vertical descent of 2700m – was something I was determined to do. I knew I probably wasn’t good enough, I knew it would be tough and frightening but most of all I knew that I’d really regret not doing it before leaving.

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As you can see from the pictures above and below, the views are stunning, with the high mountainous plains providing a sense of wilderness like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It didn’t matter that I nearly toppled down the side of a mountain at one point or that I was tethered like a horse to my patient companion, Mowgli, down the narrow descent at the start – this was a once in lifetime experience I wasn’t prepared to wimp out on. And boy was it worth it.

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Journeying into the largest glaciated domain in the Alps, the Mont Blanc massif, was nothing short of sublime. The sheer scale of the mountains and the giddy heights which see you looking down upon the puffy white clouds is incredible, swamping worries like little ants. No matter how bumpy the slopes were in parts, no matter how many wobbles I had, I couldn’t help laughing at myself – even more so during those moments tinged with terror. My anxieties simply felt so small compared to the grandeur around me.

A fitting end to an unforgettable few months.

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How Can You Apply This In Your Daily Life?

Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or weighed down by anxiety, go to nature. The sound of the stream, the bark of the trees, the scale of the mountains – they heal souls. The beauty of nature cracks you open like a nut and relieves those man-made worries which so easily weigh you down.

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#nature

#peace

#beauty

 

 

Vertical K: Hike & Fly Challenge: Chamonix!

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If you’re an adventure chasing, mountain lover thirsting for a flying challenge, check out this video from Alex Ledger of Sky School

Whether you’re a trail-runner, paraglider or a wannabe superhero, watch the sky man on the loose in Chamonix’s wildest plains, running 1000 metres up the Vertical K and acro-paragliding back down! Combining running and flying in stunning surrounds, this is sweaty but seriously exhilarating stuff!

And if that’s not enough for you, read my interview with Alex, recent Entrepreneur Of The Fortnight, giving top tips to budding entrepreneurs about how to set up their dream business. Anything but your average way to earn a living, this is cracking inspiration fodder!

If you’re Chamonix based and you think you’re up for the challenge or fancy some para-fun in England in May, Sky School is where it’s at!

Vertical ‘K’ Hike & Fly Challenge from Alex Ledger on Vimeo.

Adventurer Of The Month: James Kayll

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The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, who telephoned the crew on the final stretch of their journey across the Atlantic with land almost in sight, described their achievements as:

“The most stunning example of courage, grit and determination that the Army has seen for a long time”.

Brace yourself! This interview will leave you feeling inspired, refreshed and everything in between. Unless, of course, you’ve already met someone who’s completed the world’s toughest rowing race – the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – rowing across the Atlantic with a team of wondered ex-servicemen and finishing in 3rd place ahead of a raft of able-bodied competitors. 

The only person to have rowed and sailed across both Atlantic and Indian Oceans, James Kayll, ex-Army Captain and Ocean Adventurer, is one of a kind. So if you’re an adventurer, an aspiring adventurer or you’re simply looking for a new challenge, this interview may be just the inspiration you need.

And if you’re unsure you’ve got what it takes, whether physically, mentally or otherwise, reading about James and his injured rowing colleagues Corporal Cayle Royce and Corporal Scott Blaney may seriously shift your limiting beliefs.

Over to you, James…

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Can You Tell Me A Bit About What You Do?

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I was an Army officer for 9 years serving in a regiment called the Light Dragoons where I twice served in Afghanistan. During my military career I was able to develop a love for ocean rowing which saw me take a crew of wounded ex-serviceman across the Atlantic in a rowing race. I have now left the Army and I work for KPMG in Canary Wharf.

What Was Your Previous Experience Before Starting On This Path?

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I grew up in the countryside and love the outdoors. Most men in my family have served in the Army at some point so that was probably in my blood… I have travelled loads and done a lot of sailing in my life, including some significant offshore racing and ocean crossings. 

What Inspired You To Adventure?

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I relish challenge, the excitement of the outdoors and the natural environment but above all I love the ocean, the tranquility, the power and the unpredictability. The ocean inspires me; she keeps calling me back!

What’s Your Greatest Motivator?

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My last two adventures have involved wounded ex-Army colleagues. After rowing across the Atlantic together, I helped organise a flying expedition up the Rift Valley in Kenya which saw my colleagues flying across African skies in custom-built para-trikes. The wounded servicemen are my greatest motivator, or certainly were for my last two expeditions. They are utterly inspirational people.

Can You Tell Us More About Your Atlantic Adventure?

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Our Row2Recovery crew, which comprised two amputee and two able-bodied soldiers, set off on 3 December 2013 to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic. After an exhausting 48 days, 9 hours and 13 minutes at sea, we touched land on the tiny Caribbean island of Antigua, securing third place overall. Our 4-man crew was made up of me, Captain Mark Jenkins, Corporal Cayle Royce and Corporal Scott Blaney. Corporal Royce was wounded in Afghanistan in May 2012 when he stepped on an explosive device which resulted in above-the-knee amputation of both legs and the loss of several fingers on his left hand. Corporal Blaney had to have an above-the-knee amputation, also as a result of a bomb-blast in Afghanistan, in 2007. Despite their injuries both service personnel are committed to still enjoying life to the full, and that’s why they took on the Atlantic challenge.

Was Your Adventure Across The Atlantic All Plain Sailing?

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It certainly wasn’t all plain sailing. At the start of the race we had to cope with two weeks of storms and in mid-December the Row2Recovery boat capsized in the middle of the night when two 60ft waves crashed into us and we and much of our kit were thrown overboard!

What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?

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I have been very fortunate to have had some amazing experiences so it is difficult to select a highlight! I’ve led soldiers in battle in Afghanistan, I’ve rowed and sailed across various oceans, swum with a whale in the Indian Ocean, camped in the bush with Masai warriors in Kenya… But the one moment that stands out was arriving in Antigua at the end of our trans-Atlantic row. We arrived just after dark and were escorted into English Harbour by a few small boats but as we entered the harbour it erupted with the noise of super yachts sounding their foghorns, classic yachts firing their cannons and four or five hundred people celebrating on the dock.

We let off some flares in front of the crowd and they wet wild, screaming and waving flags as we rowed in the last few yards. The exhilaration and pride I felt during this small moment of my life makes it my biggest adventure highlight, emphasised by the fact that I had a crew of amputees and we had had a pretty rough crossing! Finishing third out of 16 crews - considering we were without 3 legs and a hand was beyond all expectations and made the moment even more special. You can read more about our adventures on the Row2Recovery Atlantic Blog.

What’s Been The Biggest Challenge?

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The biggest challenge was fundraising before rowing the Indian Ocean – it took 2 years and it was demoralizing at times feeling that you might not reach your target.

How Did You Manage To Build Your Adventure Following / Get Sponsors?

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I am not a full time adventurer so can’t really claim to have any following but I have had various sponsors over the years. I think you should never underestimate the value of gifts in kind. This is where you are loaned or gifted items of equipment by the manufacturer. Sometimes this is much better than trying to raise the funds separately to pay for the equipment. Otherwise I think sponsorship is all about linking your expedition to the values and standards of a corporate. It is about finding synergy and overlap so a corporate can relate to what you are doing – coupled with a good PR plan.

What’s Your Favourite Adventure Event? 

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I really enjoy sailing in the Caribbean and so events like Antigua Race Week and the Caribbean 600 are a huge amount of fun.

What’s Your Favourite Product?

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I have been sponsored by Kiehl’s a few times so I recommend their products but from an all round adventure perspective a jetboil is an awesome bit of equipment! Small, robust, compact, light and boils water super quickly. 

What’s Been Your Favourite Adventure So Far?

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If you are looking for a life changing adventure and something that will challenge you both physically and mentally to the extreme then I would recommend the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. This is a 3,000 nautical mile rowing race across the Atlantic. It is a race as well but you will make some great friends within the fleet and have a great time in La Gomera during the preparation before the start. The arrival in Antigua is also spectacular! Not to mention the bit in the middle; it will test every ounce of your ability, your team, your boat and your commitment. You can watch a promotional video for The Talisker Whiskey Challenge below.



What’s your Unique Selling Point?

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This changes for each expedition and I don’t think I really have a USP. I aim to row and sail across the Atlantic, the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. Two down one to go…

How Do You Build Your Fan Base?

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What fan base? Maybe you can help…..?

What’s The Best Compliment You’ve Received?

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Cayle Royce’s father thanking me for giving his son the opportunity to row the Atlantic. 

What Advice Would You Give To Budding Adventurers?

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The hardest thing is usually getting to the start line, the adventure is your reward and it will be worth every minute of your preparation, fund-raising and late nights writing sponsorship proposals!

What’s Next For You?

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Ideally rowing the Pacific but I currently have another adventure ongoing in Canary Wharf…

How Can We Contact You?

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@jameskayll on Twitter

What’s Your Favourite Quote?

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Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know About You….

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I was chased by pirates off the Horn of Africa whilst sailing from India to Djibouti in 2005. We out-ran them and then hid using the cover of darkness…

Watch James Chatting About His Experiences 

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Adventurer Of The Month: Sean Conway

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Prepare to be gripped, incredulous, refreshed, inspired and everything in between. I guarantee you will have never met anyone like this superstar (as my dad put it – and he’s hard to impress!)

If you’re apprehensive about changing your life, this interview with extreme endurance adventurer, Sean Conway, might change that.

He’s the only man in history to have swum the length of Britain from Land’s End to John O’Groats – a mere 900 miles. He’s also cycled around the world (is that all?) and has running the length of Africa next on his wish-list. Standard. Oh, and he’s also penned three books.

I can see why he has nearly 20,000 Twitter followers and an impressive list of sponsors to boot. And best of all, his modesty is in direct contrast to his achievements.

The stuff of film scripts, no adventure seems too big for the bearded daredevil. 

Over to you, Sean…

#indianajones #eat #your #heart #out

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Can You Tell Me A Bit About What You Do?

I do endurance adventures. I basically like to try and break records that are adventure based. 

What Was Your Previous Experience Before Starting On This Path?

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I used to be a very grumpy school photographer. I hated it. Photographing crying babies in front of white backgrounds all day. It was torture. 

What Inspired You To Adventure?

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I hated my job so much I decided to sell it for £1 in 2011 when I turned 30. I then just needed to do something challenging to get me out the rat race of London so I decided to cycle to Australia and back. 

What’s Your Greatest Motivator?

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Fear of just existing. I did that for my entire twenties and I was miserable. I vowed to spend the rest of my life trying and achieving as many things as possible. 

How Did You Manage To Build Your Adventure Following / Get Sponsors?

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Im not really sure? It’s taken me nearly 4 years of slowly getting fitter, stronger and sharing my story. My advice is work hard, train hard and keep to your goals. The other stuff then falls into place. 

What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?

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Climbing Kilimanjaro dressed in a penguin suit. That was fun. 

What’s Been The Biggest Challenge?

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Becoming the first person in history to swim the length of Britain. It was 900 miles up the west coast and took me 135 days. Completing that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – oh and the book is out now: Hell and High Water #ShamelessPlug. 

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What’s Been Your Favourite Adventure? 

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Not really one for doing ‘events’. I prefer to go off on my own and just see what happens. I loved cycling through the Atacama. That was one of the best things I’ve done.

What’s your USP?

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Sorry I don’t understand the question. 

How Do You Build Your Fan Base?

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I don’t have a plan to build a following. I do what I love to do, and what I’m good at and share it on various social media platforms but mainly to hopefully inspire people. I don’t do it to grow my audience. If people want to follow me then I’m really grateful and it’s always good to chat adventure but I just want to show people you don’t have to ‘work for the man’ if you don’t want too. 

What’s The Best Compliment You’ve Received?

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I wish I had a beard like yours.

What Advice Would You Give To Budding Adventurers?

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Just go out there and do it for the love of it. Don’t think about being an ‘adventurer’ because the act of trying to ‘be an adventurer’ often goes against the philosophy of why you want to do adventures in the first place. If you love something, go out there and do it. If you’re good at it then people will find you interesting to follow. 

What’s Next For You?

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20th March I’m running the length of Britain.

How Can We Contact You?

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Send me a smoke signal from your garden, like batman, I’ll see it! 

What’s Your Favourite Quote?

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Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know About You….

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I can speak Zulu.

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In lieu of Sean’s modesty, you can view his website here where you can apply for The Sean Conway Adventure Scholarship, if, irrespective of age, you have an adventure idea that costs £1000 or less.

You can follow him on Facebook here and Twitter here

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