Thursday, 12 February 2009

Whadda Bargain!'s you again...

It's been a while since I last updated you on my preparations for the big match on the big mountain, however I feel that other issues have been welling up inside that have suddenly come to a boil. What better way to explore my personal enthusiasms, passions and general anxieties of the emotionally mosaiced lives that we live in than through a global tool that is predominantly used by people diagnosed as "chronic masturbators".

It turns out that the best things are actually free (n.b. please bare in mind that getting to/ staying at the free things costs money). I have just completed a hatrick of weekends that has entertained my passion for the British countryside and all the geographical discussion that surrounds it. The most astonishing thing is that I didn't have to pay to climb Fanny Big, or walk on the Dartmoor moors, or even inhale chicken crap in a shed during a bleep test. Yet doing these things gave me more satisfaction the all the work that I had done in the previous week: I can safely say that climbing through a foot of snow toward the top of Pen-y-fan was genuinely the most fun I have had in Wales.

It is incredible how the physical aspects of the British landscape are such a vivid and accurate reflection of our political and social history; a tangible reverberation of the British national character in the countryside that we see. The last 150 years has seen a complex negotiation between the rural/urban divide and how a person’s environment can influence their character. More importantly in the context of the Everest Expedition, visiting and existing in the countryside is seen as pivotal to the British character; for example Baden Powell (Lead Scout of the World and possibly asexual) thought it was integral for a boy to visit and exercise in the countryside to understand the true nature of British citizenship. Elgar (wig wearing English composer and possible tranny) wrote some of Britain’s most recognisable music based on his adoration for the English countryside.

(Is this the ramblings of a drunk man that has eaten a chicken kiev that went out of date last November? I'm not sure...the Kiev wasn't in a packet. But what I am sure off is that this ramble isn't stopping any time soon.)

The anticipated outcome of the last three weekends was that we would become fitter and that we would all bond by enduring shared adversity. These goals were more than surpassed, and I think everyone on the expedition will recognise that there is not one bad egg on this trip (apart from the one that is rotting inside Chris Martin's bum).

However we have also achieved things that contribute to the 'Englishness' of this whole expedition. For example we all slept in a village hall, an institution that is idiosyncratic to England in its modesty, and then competed in the ancient Anglo-Saxon ritual of "Chuck-that-bloody-massive-stone-as-far-as-you-can". We drank flat tangy ale in Dartmoor called Badger - the nerdiest animal in Farthing Wood, and then the next day we fried eggs on a tor in Devon and threatened our mate at gun-point to feed them to us naked.

Returning to London after these weekends was a suffocating disappointment; however each trip not only confirmed my love for the British countryside but also asserted the necessity to get out of London every once in a while. London - a cesspool of saggy and pimpled complexions, antiquated customs and buildings glossed with a thick smear of nouve riche, and worst of all the encroaching corporations that charge 10p for BBQ sauce even though ketchup is free for some reason.

These last three weekends have been a blast - and if the trek up Everest is half as fun then I think that it will be the best two weeks of my life. Thanks have to go Kimbo, Jamo and DK for organising them. I hope that we can have as many hilarious weekends both before and after the big match on the big mountain.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Six months and Brian Blessed

Free food and booze is an offer that not many blokes can refuse, however if you chuck a speech by Bear Grylls into the mixer, then you would have to be a solvent abuser not to jump at the chance. Thankfully I'm not partial to sniffing Pritt Stick down some ally in Shoreditch, and so I accepted this offer from my new buddy Paul, and went to watch Bear talk about climbing, God and eating live animals at the All Saints Church in Kensington.
I tried to resist feeling the smug skepticism that non-religious people suffer from, and accepted the fact that Bears faith has actually played quite a significant role in his life. A brief and probably quite inaccurate) biography of Bear reads: joined the regular army at 18, rejecting the normal path to Sandhurst that public school boys take. The was asked into the Marines soon after this, and progressed to the SAS at a comparatively young age. Soon after this he broke his back in a low level parachuting exercise, and spent several months wondering whether he may ever walk again. Thankfully he began to walk again, and was directed onto an Everest summit attempt by an ex-girlfriend. After this his TV career took off, and he has started to eat live snakes and sleep in camel carcasses.
Bear was typically English in his modesty, and completely honest about the filming routine that they use i.e. that for a large proportion of the time he and the crew sleep in a hotel, apart from the odd night where they film in the desert/mangrove swamp. Although he did not give any technical advice that was relevant to the Everest Test, his attitude and burgeoning enthusiasm for all things 'adventure' was a refreshing perspective.
I thought I was lucky to see Bear, however it was only later that I managed to get hold of some tickets to see Brian Blessed at the Royal Geographical Society. As well as being the 'loudest man on Earth', Blessed is also an adventurer. He climbed Mont Blanc at the age of seventeen, and he has remained an active mountaineer throughout his life. Though he has never reached the summit, he has tried to climb Mount Everest on three separate occasions. During his attempt in 1993, the then 56-year-old climbed higher than any other man of his age; the height record was later broken by Yuichiro Miura in 2003. He has also successfully climbed Aconcagua in Argentina as well as Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Hopefully his experiences, mixed with his thespian delivery will make this a cracker.

As the title suggests, it is sixth months until we leave for Nepal and try and do the actual event. Thus we had the Trektators party at The Collection in Kensington. A brilliant night and a great starting point for everyone to pick up their fitness training and fund raising.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


Whilst recently travelling through Guatemala I had the opportunity to climb a 3000m high volcano next to Lake Atitlan. Initially I thought it would be a ruddy good laugh with some quality views from the top, as well as being good fitness training for the 'Test Above the Rest' charity event next April.
Great views and training were attained, however the ascent was far from 'a good laugh'. As well as dodging bandits who like to relieve the odd traveller of their camera/money/hands whilst they climb the narrow jungle path to the summit, I was also completely exhausted by the time I reached the top. This enlightened me to the arduous task of climbing to Base Camp, which is an extra 2000m or so higher than the Volcano. Furthermore, as well as getting there, I am also gonna have to exercise my infamous 'right arm fast'.

Monday, 7 July 2008

BJ the Nerd

Unfortunatley, due to my strong interest in all things Geographical, I have been labelled a nerd/40 year old man/wierdo by a fellow member of Team Hillary (Chris Martin). However, this interest may prove to be beneficial for the our team's image.

A brief history of Hillary and Tenzing's summit attempt reveals that the trip was predominantly sponsored by the Everest Committee, which is a sub-section of the Royal Geographical Society. The RGS has sponsored various expeditions that seek out the extreme corners of the earth since it's establishment in the mid 19th century; this is partly due the geographical nature of these expeditions and the fact that a knowledge our how our planet works can only be created through a complete exploration of it. However, other factors to do with prestige (especially during the Imperial decades) also play a significant role in why the RGS put their name to such expeditions.

I recently went on a tour of the Royal Geographical Society with a view to becoming a Fellow. On this tour I probed my host and some of the other members of the society about whether they think that I could get some support from the RGS and in particular the Everest Committee for Team Hillary. Although the RGS are unlikely to give us any support, I was given some promising contacts that may be helpful in aquiring some sort of support from one of Hillary's charities. The principle aim of this is to try and borrow some of the heritage from the Everest Committee and Hillary himself, and apply it to our very own Team Hillary.

Running 5km, the Olympics and raising enough money for the bus home

Running five km should be a doddle for most men in the 20s or 30's. However, add in the fact that we had to wear full cricket pads, and that certain members of the team had eaten their body weight in barbecued meat the night before, and suddenly this casual saunter turned into an ominous Herculean task. However, we all succeeded in completing the run without developing serious inter-legular rashes, and managed to raise a whopping £2.50!!!

In addition to raising 100,000th of our target amount, perhaps the biggest achievement of the day was managing to secure an original Olympic torch from the 1948 London Olympics, which we have been asked to take up to base camp with us in April for the big match. This was the icing on the cake of what was probably one of the most English events that I have ever taken part in: mixing cricket and mountaineering whilst running past a spitfire outside the Houses of Parliament, before giving a swift salute to Churchill's plinth and finally jogging across the finish line with Chariots of Fire playing through the PA system...bloody brilliant.