Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Three Peaks Challenge – Top Tips

Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, Snowdon. In 24 hours. Sound easy to you?

The Three Peaks Challenge is definitely far from easy – but the venture is a perfect one for anyone wishing to test their fitness and endurance, or to feel the great sense of achievement that comes with the completion, or even to build stronger bonds of trust and friendship within groups. 

To ensure that you stay safe and well in order to complete each peak - here are some handy Three Peaks tips that you may find useful.

Plan ahead - Get the right postcodes for your starting point to avoid extra stress. Getting lost before you start would be a nightmare! By choosing timings and routes you can plan which mountain to climb in the evening/night – which is sometimes inevitable – to do so safely and in a prepared manner. Importantly - use the most up-to-date maps and ensure everyone is able to read maps and navigate, in case the group is separated. 
Chauffeur, anyone? Driving in-between walks is a huge no. You won’t be your most alert after a long day climbing – and you will need this time to rest up for the next mountain. Ensure you plan driving routes and parking to avoid stress. Take travel sickness tablets for the drive – just in case you feel car sick. Feeling sick will make it difficult to eat; something you must do to keep your energy up.

Be prepared for any weather – A common tip is to start off cold as you will get warmer. However this doesn’t mean to say you won’t get cold again throughout the journey! Carry extra layers as it can get cold at the summit – as there is always a chance the weather will make a dramatic change. 

Bring plenty of fuel - lots of high calorie snacks such as cereal bars and dried fruit/nuts are perfect for the cause. Eat little and often even if you don’t feel hungry – you will need the energy. It’s a great idea to bring sandwiches and pasta as they are high in carbohydrates, and slowly release energy.

Stay hydrated – This is incrementally important! You’ll need lots of water; at least 2 litres of water per mountain is recommended. Hydration packs are perfect as you won’t have to carry your water bottle by hand. Ensure your back pack is fitted with a water pack function.

Don’t overdo it – don’t ‘push on’ if the situation is unsafe. Admitting defeat can be really tough, but you need to be sensible. If you are hurt, the likelihood is it’s going to get harder the more you troop on. Remember that mountains are unpredictable and situations can change fast – especially where weather is concerned.

Let the slowest in the group set the pace – this ensures everyone will keep up and stay as a group. For faster walkers, this could be seen as a tactic to preserve energy!

Buy decent walking boots – Boots are arguably the most important part of your kit. You need proper support on rocky terrain. Breathable and waterproof materials are ideal, so look out for those functions when purchasing. Break your boots in some months before you embark on the challenge to ensure they will not rub or cause pain. Blisters are one of the largest reasons why challengers fail The Three Peaks – don’t let that be you!

Practice is key – ensure you reach a good level of fitness before attempting the challenge. Familiarise yourself with the types of terrain you will face by going on long walks or by attempting one of the mountains beforehand to build stamina.

 Photo credit: Henry & Jane

Friday, 1 July 2016

The Wonders of the Patagonia Glacier and Ice Cap Trek

The Southern Continental Ice Field in Patagonia is one of largest non-polar ice caps on earth, and the third glacier mass in size after Antarctica and Greenland. This magnificent and dramatic area of the world has an abundance of exciting treks teamed with breathtaking views and landscape. These are just a few of the wondrous places that you will pass through on your Patagonia Trek, each just as more remarkable than the other!

Any glacier trip will start at the picturesque El Calafate – an important tourist destination named after a particularly common berry bush that can be found around Patagonia – that acts as a key hub for many adventurers who wish to visit any part of the Los Glaciares National Park. It’s a small town which therefore makes it easy to get around – however booking buses to and from the town is recommended. The town is ultimately a fun place to be with a large variety of services including its main strip posing many endearing souvenir shops, chocolate shops, restaurants and tour offices. El Calafate offers so much to see and do, including day trips to the exceptional Perito Moreno Glacier or to the romantic Onelli Bay, and boat excursions which are a great idea on a brilliant summers’ day. Ensure you spend some time here before embarking on your journey!

While journeying through Los Huemules reserve and beech forests at Laguna de Los Tres, keep your eyes open and camera at the ready for some breathtaking views. This is a trek that will lead you through mystical forests and stunning scenery; brilliant blue lagoons and impressively beautiful glaciers are plentiful. On your way, you’ll pass through many famous base camps that have in the past been used by the most renowned of climbers.

For more panoramic views, follow on to Laguna Torre, which is enveloped by stunning views of Fitz Roy Range, glacially formed valleys with splashes of dense forests. You will reach Paso Del Viento  - meaning ‘windy pass’ – an entirely unmissable stop that boasts immense views across the Southern Continental ice field; The Viedma glacier, the Upsala glacier and the impressive Mariano Moreno range acting as the perfect backdrop.

Another unmissable finishing stop is El Chalten. This small mountain village set into the Rio de las Vueltas riverside has previously been names Argentina’s Trekking capital, as well ranking second of “Best cities in the world to know” in 2014. Be sure not to stay long enough to explore a range of activities offered by the village; short walks, day trips, visits to renowned chocolate or ice cream shops, and sample brews that are available in the many Brewhouse’s. A perfect way to end your Patagonian adventure!