The good, the bad and the ugly from the previous year plus a cheeky peek at the year ahead.
2016 was a mixed bag.
Loads of great things happened in 2016. Some were adventures out on the land, some were events that will help me work towards future expeditions and some things were just awesome
Early in the year I attend Explorers Connect winter skills training and spent my first evening in a snow hole. I also took my mate Julian to visit Jilly Sherlock in The Lakes and added several mountain days to my mountain leaders log book.
Midway through 2016 I started my new favourite hobby, bouldering. I love climbing; it builds strength, flexibility and stamina. But most importantly, it is great fun!
Bouldering reminds me of being a kid which helped me in my new role as a Skype speaker in the classroom. Skype in the classroom is Skype’s social responsibility initiative. It connects guest speakers from across many different fields with schools from around the world. So far I have spoken, and hopefully inspired, kids from America, China, Bratislava and Sweden, all via Skype.
The end of the year I spent getting filthy at my first Tough Mudder obstacle race then trudging through the marshes of Dartmoor dragging a tyre and navigating at night along with the Ice Warrior crew. I met with some tremendous folks at Yestival and the Royal Geographical Explore weekender and still found time to publish a book.
The Lastpole expedition got postponed again. I made the decision early on in 2016 that this would be the last year I took part in the expedition. With a heavy heart I resigned from the team. I had been training for this massive expedition for 3 years but the last year or so had felt that I’d stopped learning new things and each year became a repeat of the last. I gave it one more go and brought in £10K sponsorship but it wasn’t enough and Jim decided to postpone.
An old hip injury has flared up again and I’ll probably have to go under the surgeons knife. At the moment I’m hobbling around like an old pirate and until this is fixed I won’t be doing any more Tough Mudders. So perhaps there’s a silver lining.
The year ahead
In 2017 I’m going to train for and attain my mountain leaders (ML) award. This will allow me to lead groups out in British lowlands and mountains during the milder months. It’ll act as a springboard for the winter ML award and a career leading on more challenging environments.
I’ll need to add a further 10 days in the mountains so I plan to make 2017 my most vertically challenging yet. Regular trips to The Lakes, Scotland, Wales and the Peak District are pencilled in.
Although I’ve left the Lastpole behind I will be going to Sweden for some winter survival skills training with Intrepid Expeditions to get my annual hit of subzero fun.
To counter the cold I’ll be attending a bushcraft firelighting course in January with David Willis and some members of The Yes Tribe.
2017 is looking very exciting. Stay tuned for further updates and opportunities to get involved!