Hitting the headlines in UAE!

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We’ve had a busy few weeks officially launching our Arctic Trilogy Expedition across the UAE, and have been hitting the news all over the place! Here’s a quick round-up of some of the coverage for those overseas, or anyone still not sure what we’re up to.

We are still searching for a title sponsor, and will fulfil our promise of naming an unclimbed peak after the company or individual who steps forward to underwrite the AED120,000 cost of the expedition (£20,000).

If you want to put your business on the map, or even your family name, please contact us: rhys@rjseven.com.

To kick off, here’s an audio clip from speaking to the guys at Dubai Eye Travel Show:

We also spoke to Tom and Aishwariya at Studio One, a live talk show.

Rhys and Laura Jones Arctic Trilogy

And from the national newspapers, thanks to Kelly for a great piece in the Khaleej Times.

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Also, Sean at 7DaysUAE for a great half page.

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Here’s one in Arabic too for those with better language skills than us, from Emarat Al Youm.

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We’ve also done some of the writing ourselves, starting with this feature in OutdoorUAE Magazine.

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We have a a few more events coming up too, and are giving a talk at Adventure HQ, Times Square, Dubai at 7pm on 23rd April.

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We’re very pleased that the expedition is raising so much awareness for the Camps Foundation too. If you would like to support the Foundation, you can do so via our JustGiving page: http://www.justgiving.com/jonesarctictrilogy

Now… Back to the training, as we have less than one month to go!!

 

Follow us on twitter: https://twitter.com/RJ7Expeditions

And Instagram: http://instagram.com/jonesarctictrilogy

RJ7 MD/ Co-Founder Rhys to dust off boots for Arctic Challenge in aid of Camps Foundation: with Mrs Jones!

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Eight years after climbing Mount Everest, it’s time to dust off my climbing boots and take on a new challenge. This time, Laura (my wife/ Camps International Ops Manager UAE!) will be joining the team and we’ll be raising money for the Camps Foundation.

I’ve missed the mountains, and climbing the Seven Summits feels like a long time ago. I’ve been busy since then, setting up RJ7, and my personal life has also changed a lot. Now living in Dubai (and determined not to go soft!) I wanted to take on a new expedition and share the experience with Laura. Climbing big mountains is amazing and the thought of sharing it is equally exciting.

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So, what exactly is the challenge? First, a bit of history.. In 2007, I sailed to Greenland with a plan to ski 200km to the Arctic’s highest peaks. Early on in the expedition, I fell into a crevasse and fractured my arm, which meant we never made it to the highest mountains. This year, I want to finish what I started. We want to climb the three highest peaks in the Arctic Circle, and make a first ascent of an unclimbed peak, which we’ll name after the sponsor.

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We’ll fly from Iceland by ski plane to a remote patch of glacier, 4.5hrs away from the nearest habitation. From there, we’ll ski to approach the peaks, pulling all of our supplies on sleds. We’re both pretty rusty skiers so this will no doubt be a challenge in itself. Once the ground steepens, we’ll climb up to the summits of Mt Gunnbjornsfjeld, Dome and Cone, over a period of around 10 days. For the remainder of the 2 week trip we will search out and climb a virgin peak. The cumulative height gain is almost twice that of Mount Everest, but achieved in half of the time it takes to climb the World’s highest mountain.

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We need to generate significant investment to fund the expedition, and are inviting sponsors on all levels. We will be fundraising for the Camps International Foundation, which supports our projects in rural communities.

We’ll be writing regular updates here on the RJ7 blog, with training and preparation. Also, follow us on twitter @RJ7Expeditions.

What’s it like to climb Mt Toubkal in 48hrs?

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We’ve just had a team of students from Jumeirah College in Dubai travelling with us in Morocco. They spent 5 days hiking as part of the Gold International Award (Duke of Edinburgh’s). They successfully reached the summit of Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in the region, and are now heading to the beach for some well deserved R+R.

I climbed Mt Toubkal in 48hrs at Easter, with my fiancé, so whilst we wait for the report from the team, I thought I’d add my own experience to the mix. I originally wrote this for our village magazine, but hopefully it provides a good general picture of what it feels like!

Some people say that Laura and I never sit still, and in the spirit of making the most of the Easter break, this was certainly no exception. Thanks to some handy BA vouchers, we’d booked flights months in advance to visit Morocco. As the time drew closer we tuned an itinerary so that I could see where my teams would be going, and also have a bit of adventure for ourselves. So with an early start, we headed to the airport, which feels like my second home! The flight was short compared to my usual London-Dubai sectors, and we touched down into glorious sunshine in Marrakech. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the new part of the city, before an early night. The next day, we had a full city tour of the old town, the walled medina, souks and famous sights. We were already starting to really like the place and the people were genuinely friendly. After a long day sightseeing, we returned to our hotel to pack bags ready for our mountain trek. 
 
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Our objective was Mount Toubkal, which stands pretty tall at 4167metres, and is the highest mountain in the North of Africa. Our plan was to climb it in just 2 days, which is quite a challenge, but we are young and fit (and ambitious!). We met our wiry mountain Guide in the village of Imlil, and headed up the trail with our mule some way behind carrying our main kit. The sun was relentless as we gained height. The ground was rocky and wound through several valleys as the imposing main face of the mountains gradually drew nearer. There was good snow cover on all of the surrounding peaks which gave a great contrast with the dusty ground beneath our feet. After a stop for lunch (fresh Arabic mezze), the trail continued towards the refuge where we’d be spending the night. We were starting to gain height, and the refuge sits at almost 3000metres above sea level. Our legs were getting tired and progress started to slow, but finally the refuge appeared in the distance and we had our first glimpse of our route towards the summit. 
 
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Once at the refuge, we dumped our backpacks and put on some warm layers as the fresh evening breeze brought a chill to the air. We drank some Berber whisky (sweet black tea, no alcohol content!) and rested for the remainder of the evening, with a little trepidation for our summit push which would commence at 5am. It was a disturbed night in the packed dormitory, with 20 beds in a small room and some very unpleasant noises and smells coming from the inhabitant trekkers. Finally, the alarm went off and by 5am we were crunching our crampons into the snow, which stretched all the way to the refuge door.
 
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The initial part of the ascent was steep and traversed to a high point, behind which we’d see the true summit for the first time. Finding rhythm in the darkness takes some practice and fortunately my body memory kicked in and I was soon back in the zone. It was Laura’s first big climb and after a couple of hours she too found her feet and we were ahead of all the other trekkers. After the first high point, we ascended more steep snow to a rocky pathway, which took us around a ridge before the final push to the peak itself. It was much more exposed than I’d thought, and thoroughly enjoyable. We gathered on the summit for photos under a beautiful clear blue sky with the mountains at our feet. We had a quick snack, but as is always the cruel way, there wasn’t much time on the summit as we had to begin our long descent from the peak all the way to the village of Imlil.
 
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Once again the heat was searing and after a lunch at the refuge we carried on downwards, already having completed a tough 7hr climb and descent. The path down seemed to last forever, and our progress got slower and slower as we became more tired. Laura’s legs started to seize and we finally rolled in to Imlil around 7pm, some 14hrs since starting our day. We were shattered and crashed into bed after our supper. 
 
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Fortunately the final day was a relaxing one, spending the day with Mohamed, who runs the  brilliant Berber cultural centre where the group from Jumeirah College will be staying. We had a great day there and headed back to Marrakech. For our last night in Marrakech we stayed in a beautiful riad, with a plunge pool in the mosaic courtyard, and orange trees everywhere.
 
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We boarded the flight home the next day sunburnt, aching and tired, but smug having had a brilliant adventure, seen a new country and climbed a big mountain. No doubt the team from JC will be feeling equally smug (and tired, and aching) on their way home later this week. Well done to all of them.
 
Rhys Jones is the MD of RJ7 Expeditions. In 2006, Rhys reached the summit of Mount Everest and claimed a World record as the youngest person to complete the Seven Summits Challenge: to climb the highest peaks on each of the World’s seven continents.
 
If you want to visit Morocco, contact us via http://www.rjseven.com
 

 

7 Steps: How to plan your Kilimanjaro climb

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We’ve just been contacted by the author of arguably the best Kilimanjaro guidebooks, and it got us thinking. How should you choose who to climb Kili with? And why should you choose RJ7?

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Kili treks are a huge industry, with over 40,000 people signing up for the challenge each year. With such a demand, there are literally hundreds of operators offering climbs, and each fighting for a share of the market. These outfits vary from one man bands, through mid-size high-end ground handlers and the biggest operators who squeeze every shilling to maximise profit. It is a minefield and we rightly receive lots of questions from prospective team members.

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We have always been proud of our Kilimanjaro operation, so here’s what I’d consider to be a good checklist of what to ask from your tour operator BEFORE booking your trip.

  1. You get what you pay for

This point is one to always keep at the front of your mind and relates to many of the other points. In such a competitive market, many operators will simply try to offer treks at the lowest price. Clearly, this will always mean compromise, and sadly the knock on effect of this can be dire. Climbing Kili should be a trip of a lifetime, and saving a few hundred pounds may see you sleeping in leaky tents, eating bad food, halving your chance of summiting, violation of the basic human rights of your porters, and very poor medical/ emergency back up.

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2. Porter welfare

The abuse of porters on Kilimanjaro is worryingly widespread and sadly it is these men who often bear the brunt of cost cutting by operators. They may be overloaded, poorly equipped, badly fed and under paid. When you see them carrying all of your kit, you would feel ashamed if you thought they were not being fairly rewarded for their incredible hard work. It’s common to see porters sat on a Massai blanket at 10pm shivering outside. This is to save weight and cost of porters, they sleep in the clients dining tent, and therefore have to wait until all the clients have gone to bed before they can sleep or even have some shelter. Also, some of the companies will agree a basic wage for porters, and then deduct food and shelter from that. There is an organisation in place called the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP). They have produced a basic criteria for partner climbing companies to sign up to, which covers things like minimum wages, equipment provided etc. It is a basic list, but a good first step if the company you’re looking at is a member. RJ7 is a full member.

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3. Safety

Arguably the single most important aspect of any expedition. Climbing Kilimanjaro, whilst not technical, will expose you to extreme altitude and a relatively fast ascent. We don’t run any climbs of less than 7 days, and to save a few $$ by shaving off a day is a completely false economy. You could count on feeling lousy all summit day, and at worst become very (i.e critically) ill with altitude related illness. Make sure your operator carries bottled oxygen, pulse oximeters, a portable altitude chamber, a comprehensive first aid kit (with trained Guides) and also radios. We do all of this and during the low season our Guides are put through wilderness medical training. Our guides are internationally certified first aid responders. Our porters are also first aid trained.

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4. Equipment

Sleeping well and being comfortable can make or break your trip. Trying to climb with inadequate kit will make 7 days feel like a very long time if the weather is bad (yes, it does rain and snow on Kili, even when it’s not supposed to!). The nights are cold and a good night’s sleep is invaluable. We use all Mountain Hardwear tents on Kili, the same tents that are used on Mount Everest summit climbs. We also use Mountain Hardwear dining tents for all meals (even lunch), and additionally provide foam mats. To save our team members money, they can even rent brand new, -40c sleeping bags for the duration of the trip.

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Our porters also sleep in their own tents, so they can shelter and rest as soon as they arrive at camp.

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5. Pre-trip advice, support, and protection

Many trekkers may consider booking their climb direct with a local Tanzanian company. This can be risky and foolhardy on many levels, although there are exceptions to the rule. Firstly, the British traveller is one of the best protected in the world in terms of financial protection. Wiring dollars to a local company is risky and not recommended. We provide all team members with an exhaustive Expedition Travel Pack, which gives every detail about the trip, the itinerary, the destination country, vaccinations, all the way to plug sockets and how many pairs of socks to pack! We also have an office full of trekkers, climbers and travellers who are ready to answer any question about the trip and put your mind at rest. For many of our private teams, we even run training and team building weekends in Snowdonia and the Lake District for a proper shakedown 2 months before departure.

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6. Hidden extras

When comparing tour operators it’s vital that you compare apples with apples. For example a 6 day Machame will always cost less than a 7 day Machame, and much less than an 8 day Lemosho. Also ask if airport transfers are included, what accommodation do they provide pre and post climb (and where), what board basis is the time pre and post climb. We use a variety of accommodation in Moshi and Arusha, our favourites are AMEG Lodge (Moshi), Blues&Chutney (Arusha) and Rivertrees (Arusha). We even provide a comprehensive travel insurance policy as standard for every team member.

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7. Everything else

Choose your route wisely. We recommend an 8 day ascent via the Lemosho route, however if you are pressed for time, a 7 day Machame is an excellent and cost effective alternative.

A few other good questions to ask when you’re thinking of booking a climb:

  • What is the maximum group size?
  • What is provided at meal times? Is it a hot lunch on the trail or a snack bag?
  • How many share tent and what size is it? (we use 3.5 person tents for 2)
  • How many Guides will the team have and what is the ratio on summit day?

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About us:

This article was put together by RJ7 MD Rhys Jones. Rhys has led seven Kilimanjaro climbs (all to the summit), including a group of amputee soldiers, and a filmed expedition with the first Tanzanian with albinism to reach the summit. Rhys has climbed all over the world, including Mount Everest and the Seven Summits; the highest peaks on all of the World’s seven continents.

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RJ7 is a company focused on running expeditions without compromising safety, quality or ethics.

http://www.rjseven.com

 

Despatches from Peru

Damian, our Regional Director in Latin America has just got back from Peru and sent us this great photo report.

Damo accompanied our team of 19 hardy trekkers, all of whom were raising money for Wave 105’s Cash for Kids charity. Here’s what he had to say…

It is easy to dismiss the really famous treks – Kilimanjaro or The Inca Trail for instance – because many people have done them.  But, regardless of the number of people who have gone before, you still have to walk the yards, climb the hills and stumble down the descents.  Your own experience of these places is not invalidated just because others have gone before you – they have only done so because they are great places to be and are very real challenges.

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The Inca Trail is one of many trails that the Inca made through the mountains.  “The Inca trail” has become famous partly through very clever publicity and partly because it does include a number of stretches on actual Inca laid paths.  However, whether you are on that trail or another, the scenery is extraordinary, arrival at Machu Picchu is extraordinary and the Inca ruins along the way are extraordinary.  The whole thing is everything that it is billed to be and the effort involved is more than made up for by the sense of superiority and ownership you feel when confronted by the cheats who turn up at Machu Picchu by train.

Kind of incongruous but oddly beautiful as well, you can hear their whistles echoing around the valleys.

The trekking can be fairly tough and the terrain is ever changing.  You start walking around 2800m and the first day is reasonably simple.  The famous Perurail train and the Rio Urubamba criss-cross the trail and there is a general feeling of a closeness to civilization.  However, that feeling ends early in day 2.  The trail takes you away from people, through tiny villages that are themselves hours of walking from the rail head or roads; and up.  On day 2 the sense of either heading up or down and rarely flat really takes hold.  The Incas really, really loved a nice step, so they made loads of them, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, and your knees feel every one of them. Steps, steps, steps.

Things are big in The Andes – this picture fails to do justice to the sheer scale of the place.  The track on the right is an endless ascent, mostly on steps, for hours and hours to Dead Woman’s Pass. Fun

We were a group of 19, with porters, cooks and guides that came to mid-twenties.  That is only a biggish group, but big enough for us to fall comfortably into groups of the fit and keen and the slightly less fit, for whom just getting there was the challenge.  The porters, carrying huge loads but with a weight limited by the government, skip across the trails with fantastic speed and there was a constant call of “Porter” among the group as we stood back to let them charge off to our campsite to set up for us.

I think I mentioned that there were some steps.

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Through days 2 and 3 we moved through cloud forest and relatively open mountain scenery.  You also cross Dead Woman’s Pass: at 4200m, the highest point of the trail.  Once out of the cloud forest you are struck, if you come from little old England, by the sheer scale of the Andes.  Towering over you are immense mountains, the valleys are seemingly endless and impossibly deep; everything is just huge.  The joy of waking up to these views, with a chill in the air from the altitude, reaches its peak on the last morning, when you are faced by the natural bowl in which Machu Picchu sits.  You can not see the ruin itself, which is hidden by its own mountain, but the steep mountains all around it and the more distant 6000 + meter, glaciated peaks tend to render people a little speechless; there is nothing I can say here that won’t sound naff – it’s pretty good.

Campsite with Inca ruins backdrop.

The bit where even I couldn’t think of anything to say.

Machu Picchu was a religious site and was placed inside its natural bowl for protection.  It is remote and the Spanish never got to it – the Incas went to fight the Spanish and left Machu Picchu and many other towns and settlements to rot.  They lost the battles and never returned.  Frequently, when walking along a track carved into a sheer mountainside (with a couple to thousand feet drop to the side) or marveling at a temple perched on top of an impossibly steep cliff, you just wonder how and why they did this.

To the right cliff, to the left a few thousand feet of nothingness.

After four days of walking you arrive at the Sun Gate, about a mile from Machu Picchu itself and through which you get your first view of it.  There were people in our group reduced to tears, I think that says it all.

Waynna Picchu, the famous conical mountain that you have seen in all the photos looming above Machu Picchu, is a very steep climb up original Inca steps.  On top of it are ruins that defy belief, temples, walls hanging over massive drops and incredibly steep steps – also capable of reducing people to tears for different reasons.  It and Machu Picchu itself take hours to explore.  They are bigger than you probably imagine, remarkable in the scale of their ambition and in their beauty.  They are one of the great sights in the world and the Peruvian government have to restrict the number of people visiting each day.  There are people there, but the sites are big enough to absorb them without it being a problem: and you can feel smug because you are have earned the right to this experience, and seen so much along the way, and many of those around you are just day trippers having less than half of your life sized moment.

Did I mention there were some steps?

Waynna Picchu in the background

 

RJ7 24hour 3 Peaks Challenge. How hard could it be?

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Whenever I’ve met other Guides on mountains around the world, most have sniggered when I told them the highest mountain in the UK stands at a seemingly insignificant 1,344 metres above sea level. I usually go on to explain that due to it’s latitude, Ben Nevis sees some extreme conditions during the winter and it is possible to climb steep ice during the day and be back for a pub dinner in the evening. This means that far from being a laughing stock, our Highlands are something we should take great pride in.

So how hard could it be to climb the 3 highest peaks in the UK within 24 hours? Standing a modest 1,344m, 1,085m and 978m respectively, surely it would be well within the realms of achievability for just about anyone with a pair of legs and some comfy boots?

We were asked to organise a private 3 Peaks Challenge for one of our ex-Kilimanjaro climbers to celebrate a big birthday with a group of friends. After some coercion, a team of 8 was assembled and we met at Southampton airport to fly over the traffic jams on a sunny Friday afternoon and land in Glasgow for the drive to Fort William, from where we would stage our ascent of Ben Nevis.

Our bus picked us up from the airport, or our “mobile palace on wheels” as the bus company call it. The team had various names for it by the end of the weekend, but essentially it was a 16 seater with reclining seats, reading lights, a dryer for wet kit, and of course drivers for the whole event so we could sleep between climbs.

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Once in Fort William, we checked into the lodge and walked to the pub for a team dinner. As soon as I saw the guitarist and the “live music” signboard, I had premonitions of the 5am start slipping away due to a late night singing along. Surprisingly, we went to bed at an almost sensible time, with apprehension building for what lay ahead.

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The alarm went off at 4:15 the next morning, it was already light outside and we quickly loaded the bus and made the short journey to our start point for team photos. At 5:05 the clock started and we set off up Ben Nevis at a good pace. The sky was blue and I was secretly praying for it to stay so for the whole weekend.

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We reached the final zigs and zags at the top of the Ben after 2.5hrs and it wasn’t much longer until we were crunching through the snow to the summit for obligatory photos.

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With no time to waste, we headed down past the literally hundreds of other walkers just starting their ascent, back to the bus and stopped for a quick athletes breakfast (McDonalds) in Fort William before hitting the road and heading South to the Lake District for Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England.

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Arriving at dusk, we set off towards the back of the valley where there’s a steep wall leading to the top of the mountain. We kept to the right, scrambling up the rocks for some added interest, and hit the summit in a very impressive 2hours.

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On the descent, we started to pass the same faces we’d met on the Ben, and I kept bumping into friends leading other groups. Always nice when you bump into people you know out in the hills. By now though, the descent was taking it’s toll for some of the team, already with pain in their knees and only fractionally quicker on the way down than on the way up. Luckily we were still on schedule when we got back to the bus at nightfall and slept much of the way to Snowdon.

Our new driver was pretty enthusiastic at the wheel, and the darkness outside mixed with a poor diet of sweets was making me feel increasingly sick. I’ve never been so pleased to arrive at Pen Y Pass car park, at the base of Snowdon. I felt much better for decorating a corner of the car park with my vomit, but felt guilty as one of the team member’s wives had driven up to join us for Snowdon. Probably not a great first impression when most of the team say barely a word and the leader is throwing up! Nevertheless I was a new man and we headed into the pitch darkness of the Pyg Track.

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It was by far the worst weather of all 3, and the combination of mist, rain and darkness made it almost impossible to see further than about 50 metres ahead. Everyone quietly fell into line, and we reached the top before it was properly light. No hanging around due to terrible conditions and folk keen to get back to the bus within the allotted time.

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The team could smell the finish line by now and stretched their aching legs making fast time down to the car park, and most made it within 24hrs. 

Overall it was a fantastic weekend, and the feeling was quite surreal once sat on the plane, still damp, leaving Manchester just a couple of hours after summiting Snowdon. We landed at Southampton, hobbled back to cars, and, I imagine, everyone slept very well indeed.

We will be organising more 3 peaks Challenge events next year, please contact us if you would like to book a private trip. www.rjseven.com 

Pilgrim Bandits: Amputees on Kilimanjaro

One of the great things about running RJ7 is that we get to work with such a variety of good causes. Our most recent trip up Kilimanjaro was for the fantastic Pilgrim Bandits charity, which supports amputees and injured servicemen. They’d recruited a huge team of 26 willing trekkers, including four amputees, Duncan Bannatyne of “The Dragon’s Den” and Miss Commonwealth Hayley Mac alongside the other hardy volunteers raising funds.

The plan was straightforward: climb to the top of Kilimanjaro via a 7 day trek on the very popular Machame Route. The Machame Route is the most popular way up Kili, and with good reason; it’s a stunning path and also provides plenty of time to acclimatise.

After a long journey from around the UK, the team assembled in the relative calm of our hotel in Arusha, and we had a full evening sorting kit and re-packing ready for Day 1 on the mountain. After months of fundraising and training, it was time to get going and the next morning we drove to Machame Gate from where we would start our climb.

The first two days on the mountain were tough. We had a mixture of weather from bright hot sunshine, through to some pretty heavy showers. On the plus side, it’s a good way for everyone to make the most of all the kit they bought for the trip! Day 1 took us up to 2,800m, and day 2 up to 3,800m.

Over the next couple of days we made great progress up to 4,600m at Lava Tower, before descending to Barranco Camp, nestled beneath the imposing Barranco Wall. This was my seventh Kilimanjaro climb and the amputees were out front all the way up the wall. It was the fastest ascent I’d ever done, 1hr45mins! Above the wall was a long traverse and steep descent into the Karanga Valley before a sharp climb in to camp for lunch and a restful afternoon. Karanga Camp is just shy of 4,100m and the views are outstanding.

Above Karanga, the air gets thinner and the going gets slower. I was keen for the team to use a higher camp than usual to mount the summit attempt. Most teams stop at Barafu (4,600m) and leave from there at Midnight. Our plan was to use Kosovo Camp (c.4,800m). Between Barafu and Kosovo is a set of steep slabs of rock which would be far more difficult to climb at night for the amputees than during the day. So I headed up to Barafu to persuade the rangers to let us use this unusual camp. The main group were about 2hrs behind but soon enough all were at our High Camp and resting before the summit bid.

The alarm started to beep at 10:45pm and I was shocked to see it had been snowing heavily throughout the evening. I crunched around camp shaking tents for everyone to get up and into the mess tent for an 11:30 departure.

The weather was unusually bad and everyone was huddled with their hoods up and wearing their biggest jackets and gloves. I was hopeful that the weather might improve throughout the day.

The hours before dawn are the darkest and the coldest, and the prospect of an imminently rising sun is enough to just about spur on the team to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The first people to reach the summit were Duncan, Hollie and myself, at around 5:30am after quite a dash to catch them at Stella Point! Helping Duncan around to the top, we reached the famous (and new) green sign in complete darkness.

Once we’d taken some photos, they quickly descended and I started to meet people on their final steps around the crater rim. I love seeing people as they spot the summit and realise it’s within reach. People get pretty emotional up there and I was certainly guilty of that. Luckily, as the next team members reached the top, it had started to get light, and the sunrise revealed a stunning blanket of snow.

Over the next couple of hours, the rest of the team arrived at Uhuru Peak and we started to assemble under the sign with all important Pilgrim Bandits flag.

The charity had also been asked to carry an original Olympic torch to the summit. Whilst I was at the peak with charity patron Jon Sandford Hart, we found an ingenious use for the torch. Toasted marshmallows at 5,895m!

After another hour, Ricky Hatton arrived on the summit, supported by his dedicated gang. It was a massive effort from him and the team.

Soon enough, it was time to start the long descent to the Park Gate. The path is never-ending, and tough enough for tired trekkers with two real legs. With that in mind, Jon jumped in our custom made cargo fibre buggy developed by Sunseeker, and adopted a kamikaze approach to driving it down the hill.

By some miracle, he didn’t injure himself and we all made it down to the bottom of the mountain in one piece…

Then it was back to the hotel for the long-awaited showers, a swim in the pool, a cocktail part and big dinner before a night in a real bed and a room with four walls.

Overall, it was a very successful climb. The amputees set a new World Record for the fastest ascent on crutches. Tens of thousands of pounds was raised for the charity.

It’s not too late to donate. Click HERE to pledge your support. If you want to follow in the teams footsteps, the next Pilgrim Bandits Kilimanjaro climb is taking place in September. Details HERE.