The 2015 expedition was a HUGE success! The Mind over Mountain team of Nic, Ben, Jo, Jaz, Tim and Emily gained so much out of their 3 weeks in Nepal from self development to learning new skills, overcoming fears to eating lots of dal bhat! Please read how they got on under their photos below and take a look at the amazing expedition video here and the equally fab training weekend video here
My intro to the class of 2015!
Everyone has their own Everest to climb – right? During the summer months I’m very fortunate to be able to help students take the first steps on their own mountain climb by teaching and assessing the expedition element of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, something that I love to do.
As part of my own Everest climb I wanted to give some DofE students the opportunity to see what life is like on an expedition trail, to have a taste of what is out there and to trek to Everest Base Camp and climb Lobuche East with Rolfe and myself as part of our acclimatisation rotation.
So I set about to recruit a fab team of students who are taking part in their Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award and this expedition qualifies as the residential element of their award.
To be considered for one of 6 places, each student had to write a letter detailing why they thought they should be part of our expedition and then under-go a telephone interview. Half of their expedition costs has been met by a private sponsor and they are financing the other 50% plus raising £400 for Place2Be, the charity which I am supporting for my Twin Peaks climb. A tough call for students but the old adage ‘those that really want to do something find a way, those that don’t find an excuse’ runs true!
Application letters were received and interviews duly conducted and below are my 6 students with a little bit about them. Their team name is Mind over Mountain, very fitting!
Jo – What she said before……I have been the DofE pupil coordinator at my school for the past academic year, which has given me the opportunity to help and support the younger students as they embarked on their DofE journey. I have trained and supported the bronze girls on their expeditions, as well as supporting them on the silver practice expedition. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching and helping other girls gain life skills through DofE and wish to further my skills and experiences through this Everest expedition, which I hope to share with other girls I meet. As Head Girl I hope that by sharing this experience with my fellow students I would be able to inspire younger girls to challenge themselves into taking part in adventurous experiences.
What she said after…….returning from an amazing 3 weeks in Nepal really allowed me to reflect on the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had. Meeting the rest of the amazing students which I was going to share this opportunity with was incredible. We all motivated and supported each other through the many moments requiring shear strength and perseverance, I’m sure we’d all agree that team work was vital on the expedition. Before applying I would never have thought that I would summit Kala Pattar, reach Everest Base Camp and summit Lobuche East, with Gold DofE as far as my experiences stretched, but I did it, and I am so thankful for such an amazing opportunity at just 18 and for all those who made it happen.
Emily – What she said before….I believe life is about embracing what makes you happy, in my case it happens to heavily involve a pair of walking boots or rock shoes. This love affair began in 2007 on my Bronze DofE expedition with 3 days of torrential rain, 4 people in a 2 man tent, lost roll mats and hostile sheep, it was more than eventful and despite the odds I adored every single minute of it. The challenge of the trip ignited a passion and drive within me I never knew I had. I have learnt that group dynamics and communication within a team are essential to the success of an expedition. I believe this is what creates a bond within a group that will sustain long after the trip has ended.
What she said after……Throughout the run up to the expedition all I could think about was Base Camp and Lobuche East, nothing else. However, when we were actually in Nepal and walking through the most spectacular scenery and being surrounded by fantastic company. I soon realised that what I’d been thinking of was only a tiny part of the expedition, and that the time spent walking to Base Camp and the people I was with was much more important. I laughed everyday and what happened to us throughout the whole trip has made for some of my most precious memories. I can happily say I’ve made friends for life and that trip has a very firm place in my heart.
Ben – What he said before……The Duke of Edinburgh’s award has developed my confidence, maturity and ability to tackle life’s challenges by developing my teamwork, time management and prioritisation skills. I have had great experiences and met friends I will never forget, learning guitar, starting triathlon and incredibly challenging expeditions. To add this expedition to that list of experiences would be an incredible way to complete the award, fulfil a dream and meet motivated and inspiring people.
What he said after…..Every facet of this trip was truly excellent. From the seamless organisation, never-ending advice and expert leadership I felt completely looked after and at ease for the duration of the trip. Through each hard slog, altitude milestone and village we where tutored, encouraged and most importantly integrated into a charismatic, hard-working and mutually supportive team. My bucket list looks substantially more completed after this trip – and Jo had a huge part to play in that. She lit the spark, now I find my mountaineering ambitions burning brighter than ever. Forget worries about exams, funding or sponsorship – if you want it enough, it will happen. Take the chance, you’ll have the best time of your life.
Jaz – What she said before…..I believe the world is full of adventure, knowledge, challenges and excitement. Duke of Edinburgh award has already impacted my life so much in such ways and more. Volunteering at a youth centre for my bronze award where we ran live music events for young people, led to me discovering lighting design, which I am now pursuing as a career. It’s crazy to think that without the DofE award, I may be headed on a totally different path.
What she said after…..This expedition was incredible- having such a supportive team, meeting the kind people of Nepal, and the amazing Sherpas. The people really made it extra special, and learning from everyone else about their knowledge and their lives, really opened my eyes and had let me see life now much more clearly. Lobuche was a challenge, and getting past the tough bits felt amazing now I look back on it. Especially with the mountains surrounding. – seeing how huge they are and being privalidged enough to be walking through them and climbing them- it just opened my eyes to how incredible the planet is, and how much respect it deserves. The opportunity really has changed my outlook on things and I can’t be thankful enough for the chance. Jaz’s Fundraising Page
Nic – What he said before……Having never even camped in my garden or shown any interest in it, doing Bronze DofE in high school changed my entire perspective and attitude towards the outdoors, creating a change in my values and a spark that has helped decide my life choices ever since. The camaraderie and social factors involved with motivating yourself and others around you appealed to me so much it wasn’t long before I was climbing, biking and hiking whenever and with whoever I could. DofE inspired my life choices from my hobbies to university and hopefully my career and I couldn’t possibly think of a better way to kick start a Gold Award than this expedition.
What he said after…….I had the highest expectations for this trip, mountaineering with incredible names, seeing Asia and Nepal for the first time and taking on my first high-altitude trekking peak. At every single turn it went above and beyond what I could have imagined; the team, Nepal and its people and being in bad conditions physically and weather-wise for Lobuche, I learnt the most I ever have about willpower and teamwork. I could not recommend the trip or something similar more. Nic’s Fundraising Page
Tim – What he said before……I am an out-going gap year student who has really enjoys camping and surfing in Pembrokeshire, indoor and outdoor climbing, coasteering and skiing. I have always wanted an opportunity to stretch myself and step further from my comfort zone and this expedition will certainly do that! Although I am a Scout Leader, bigger expeditions are new to me and I can’t wait to learn more about kit, equipment, skills, training, nutrition and everything that is involved!
What he said after (to follow – he’s busy working!) Tim’s Fundraising Page
Each student raised £400 or more for Place2Be, a fabulous children’s mental health charity which I was supporting too. Please click here for more details about the charity.
A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to Vango who supplied some essential kit and to High Peak First Aid who provided a 5 day Expedition First Aid course to each of our team of students. The sayings ‘All our Christmases have come at once’ and ‘Like kids in a sweet shop’ spring to mind and the students are delighted with this offer of support. Please click on the logos below to see the excellent kit that is on offer from Vango, the great first aid courses on offer by Nicola and how they are partners with DofE.