A brief history: My great friend and climbing buddy, Bruce, and I over the years.

KilimanjaroIn Spring 2012 I was leading a voluntary service trip in Tanzania. A group of students from an American girls’ school, and their parents, had come to Tanzania to build a new kitchen in a primary school in Moshi. I had the honour to work for and get to know some fascinating people. Among those people were Bruce, his incredible wife and wonderful daughter. I connected with the family instantly.

The team and I spent a week in Moshi under the watchful gaze of Kilimanjaro, the clouds shrouding and revealing her as we worked hard and succeeded to build the kitchen, install the water, fix a broken fence, paint a number of buildings and more. Bruce and I got chatting about my previous visits to Tanzania and Kilimanjaro; one day he turned to me and asked that if a space ever opened up on a trip to Kilimanjaro to let him know.

The following year, 2013, I was scheduled to return to Kilimanjaro twice, once at the end of May and again at the start of October. My October trip looked bleak –  last minute cancellations threatened whether the trip could run. I had intermittently kept in touch with Bruce and his wife since the service trip, so a couple of months before the trip was due to depart I emailed him and asked ‘Do you want to join me on Kilimanjaro?’. As luck would have it he was in the middle of a work sabbatical so took the chance and said yes.

Kili summitDuring our successful climb of Kilimanjaro (100% summit for the team – awesome), Bruce and I chatted about what was next on the list. Just before the trek I’d read something on Twitter about Mt Rainier so imagine my surprise when Bruce said he was considering it. His daughter was at college in Seattle so it made perfect sense for him. Upon agreeing that it would be an incredible peak to climb the plan was born.

10 months later, August 2014, I was on a flight to Seattle. Bruce and I had booked places on the International Mountain Guides (IMG) Mt. Rainier Glacier Skills Seminar. 6.5 days of learning all about glacier camping, safe glacier travel (and crevasse rescue), ice climbing, belaying and rappelling and loads more, while ascending up the mountain putting our new knowledge to the test. Our guides Dallas Glass, Jonathan Shrock and Betsy Dain-Owens (who joined us for the summit push) were phenomenal. Our fellow climbers were the best and we all got on so well. It was the best mountain experience I’d ever had, and that still stands two years later. I still get goosebumps thinking about how awesome it was.

Mt RainierDuring this trip Bruce and I had the conversation again, “what’s next?”. We both agreed we wanted to climb Aconcagua but felt we needed to take our time, get some more exposure to altitude and build up our mountain experience before tackling it so we decided on Mt Elbrus (which you can read about here). The theory was that the Mt Elbrus north route would put our glacier skills and roped travel knowledge to use, while adding in the extra challenge of higher altitude as Mt Rainier is ‘just’ 4392m /14,411ft.

Two months later, October 2014, we had signed up for Elbrus and intensive training had commenced but still the dream of Aconcagua was there. We talked about it a lot. Around February 2015 IMG announced their 2016 Aconcagua departure dates and guide names.  Our Mt Rainier guide Johnny Shrock was guiding on our preferred departure date – it was a no brainer. In April 2015, just four months before jetting off for Mt Elbrus, Bruce and I submitted our Aconcagua applications to IMG to climb in January 2016…

My guide to Mexico

Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (The United Mexican States) commonly known as Mexico, is a huge country wedged between the USA, Guatemala and Belize. Despite the official national language being Spanish, Mexico is actually part of the North American continent.

Mexico is a friendly and laid back country, with strong traditional family values and welcoming to visitors. It has suffered with a bad reputation for being unsafe but the vast majority of visits are nothing but enjoyable.

For the full article click here: http://www.gapyear.com/articles/90429/lexi-quintons-guide-to-mexico (info correct at time of writing)

How to plan a short gap year

So you know what a short gap year is and you’ve decided that it’s for you. Awesome! But what do you do now? How do you go about planning your short gap year? Here’s some advice for getting a big return on your short timeframe.

Read the full article here: http://www.gapyear.com/articles/180219/how-to-plan-a-short-gap

What is a short gap?

You know the feeling. Your feet are itching, you dream of remote destinations and you’re desperate to escape the daily routine and enjoy the buzz and excitement of going somewhere new. The problem is you don’t have the time or budget to go away for months or years; all you have is a few weeks. How can you do a gap ‘year’ in such a short time?

This is where the short gap year comes in. The short gap year is a concentrated gap year; an independent travel experience that’s squeezed into a fortnight or month, but that’s every bit as exotic, hedonistic and adventurous as the traditional gap year! On the short gap year you can still find hostel dorms, street food, wild night outs and like-minded people with a drive to explore another country and culture.

For the full article, click here: http://www.gapyear.com/articles/180181/what-is-a-short-gap

A lot can happen in a year

It’s February 1st 2015 and I haven’t written anything for 13 months. 2014 was a tough year with some enormous challenges which gave me pause to reflect and question myself, my beliefs and my strength. I am still looking for answers.

Despite the difficulties of 2014 I have continued to work hard to achieve new goals and move forwards and I will endeavour to catch up on that over the next few weeks. Some of the highlights of 2014 include:

Revisiting Vietnam with a group of charity clients, trekking in Pu Luong National Reserve
Summiting Mt Rainier as part of a glacier skills course
Taking on my first ‘mud run’ 10k race
Summiting Eyjafjallajökull after a previously unsuccessful attempt

Now we are in 2015 my intention is to squeeze out every opportunity for adventure I can within my limited means. For the past 6 months I’ve had an overwhelming feeling that something life changing is around the corner. I don’t know what this could be, when (or if) it might happen or whether it is good or bad but it has been constantly at the back of my mind. Maybe it’s this feeling that will drive the very change I sense is coming; a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe by making my dreams a reality rather than ‘following’ them I will see my life redirect.

Either way if I’ve learnt just one thing from 2014 it is that our lives are precious, short and remarkably fragile. None of us truly know the reason we’re here but one thing is for sure, there are a helluvalot of mountains to climb and sometimes all you can do is give it your level best to get to the top.


My Review of The Reel Rock UK Tour 2013

I was fortunate enough to win two tickets to the Reel Rock UK Tour 2013 thanks to Peak Mountaineering. Here is what I wrote for Paul from Peak Mountaineering about my thoughts on how the evening went…

Reel Rock 8 was my first experience of the adventure film tour, so I had no preconceptions of what the evening would be like. In a nutshell, it was awesome! Each film was introduced by the Reel Rock team who welcomed the audience as if we were one big family. An intermission with prize giveaways and freebies was a nice touch and gave the event’s sponsors a chance to shine, without it being too ‘in-your-face’ or the evening feeling sponsored. 
Each of the four films shown carefully represented a different element to the world of adventure in the mountains from the hedonistic Stonemasters teaser which left me wanting to grab a tent and get out there and explore, to the relaxed yet passionate and determinated Hazel Findlay in Spice Girl whose film should probably be renamed Spider Girl, for her effortless ability to cling to the rock.
The Sensei had me gripped from the beginning; following the story of Yuji Hirayama and Daniel Woods as they team up to work on Yuji’s incomplete project on Mt Kinabalu. The film was beautifully captured, showing the contrast between Yuji’s and Daniel’s experience but their shared passion for climbing and dedication to supporting each other in achieving their goals. 
One of the big stories of 2013 in the mountaineering world was Ueli Steck and Simone Moro’s early departure from Everest after a fight broke out between them and Sherpas. The Reel Rock team were there and the exclusive footage revealed in High Tension offers an unbiased insight into what really happened that day and the reaction from the climbing community. 
After an excellent introduction to the Reel Rock world, I will certainly be returning next year to get another dose of adrenaline, enthusiasm and fun that is so neatly portrayed in the films. Reel Rock showcases the adventures of some of the climbing world’s most promising, legendary and talented sportspeople out there but keeps each film down-to-earth, showing that these epic explorers are just like you and I, and we all need to keep challenging the boundaries and living the mountain dream.
Thanks again for the tickets; I loved every minute!

Read this on the Peak Mountaineering Blog here: http://www.peakmountaineering.com/blog/2013/11/15/Reel_Rock_UK_Tour_2013/

Outfit of the day – Kilimanjaro Summit Night!

Here is what I wore on summit night, Kilimanjaro, Friday May 31st 2013.  The conditions from 4,600m (Barafu Camp) to summit were very windy, snow underfoot and approximately -22C with wind chill. I was toasty warm all the way up, and sweltering all the way down!DSCF9806


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