Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Big Climb for Big Change

Trekking across the Arctic for three months in life threatening conditions, I really got to understand the human body and what it is capable of. It has helped me in everything I have done since to keep a positive mental attitude and keep things in perspective. It made me realize that when you think you have nothing left to give, your tank is still half full. In September, I attempted to summit Mont Blanc along with some of my closest friends to launch our startup charity Big Change Charitable Trust. The money raised from the event will be used to improve the lives of young people in the UK and you can see details of the projects we are supporting on the website. In the meantime, here is my account of our final day on the mountain.

Friday 7th September, 2am
An overwhelming sense of adventure filled the air. Heading off into the dark abyss not knowing what we were to face was exciting. Were we to succumb to the altitude? Fall into a crevasse? Would the legs give up? Not knowing how tough it would be excited me. What I did know is that as long as you keep a positive mental attitude then you can always achieve more. I didn’t just want to get to the top, I wanted to do it with a huge smile on my face.

Crampons, head torch and ice axe at the ready we set off under the night sky up the mountain. 

We made it over the first dome and onto the next. Trudging through the snow, foot after foot in some sort of sleepy meditative state.  It was peaceful.

As we hit the brow of the Dome du Goutêr I was suddenly hit with an overwhelming realisation of what we were doing. It is so easy to get caught up in the details, the timing of things, kit check, body management etc. But when I walked over that dome I was awestruck. Above me towered the summit of Mont Blanc, standing like a timeless giant silhouetted in the night sky. The dull grey surface of it, glowing in the moonlight, a narrow snake like trail of headlamps slowly making its way up the steep face like a stairway of stars to the sky. The dull glow of sun pink rising on the mountains to our left, coating the frozen mountaintops in a warm blanket. It was incredible and in moment I was totally alive, in the present with not a care in the world. No leg ache or tiredness, just a full appreciation for nature and the world we live in. 

It drove me on step after step all the way to the summit and made me think of all the brave adventurers over time who have risked their lives to push our understanding of the world. The challenges people face in the world always come to mind when I am doing something like this and it always makes me put things in perspective: ‘So what if my legs hurt and I am exhausted? This pain will be short lived and soon enough it will be over’. This is not a luxury for a lot of people and the idea of that pushes me on to do my best. It is also what Big Change is really about: helping people overcome challenges however big or small they might seem and this climb really reminded me of that. Don't forget to check out the website and there are more pics on the Big Change facebook page

Big thanks to our sponsor and suppliers because without them this expedition would not have been possible:


Clothing from Bergans (www.bergans.com)
Accommodation from Hip Chalets (www.hipchalets.com)
Equipment from Grivel (www.grivel.com)
Boots from Scarpa (www.scarpa.com)
Sunglasses from Adidas Eyewear (www.adidas.com/eyewear)
Chamonix Tourist Office (www.chamonix.com)
Photos from Martin Hartley (www.martinhartley.com)