Monday, 14 January 2013

Being Wise on Expedition.........The first 18 months....

One of our hard working freelancers read this poem out at our Christmas *Doo* in December - it is a great explanation of what it is to work for Expedition Wise!

It started by chance in 2011
One Caledonian Challenge was the event
My baptism of fire in the Highlands
The first experience with Expedition Wise was Heaven sent

Treating blisters by the dozen int' Ice Factor
Racer’s feet weren’t always in good shape
Teams of 4 in theory, sometimes 3,2 ,1
Not everyone abided by the red tape

Out of Kinlochleven on the staircase
Riding on a quad was brilliant fun
Walking through the night over Rannoch
And dancing at the finish at Tyndrum

Brian's 2011 party was a great one
Rocking on up to Rock House in Rock Place
There's also lots of rocks sculpted in the garden
And fab views to other crags with a rock face!

Steph had made vatt loads of piping chilli
Ang introduced me to alcoholic ginger beer
Wine and laughter flowed there all evening
And the video of the year was full of cheer

In 2012 the season was first about the 3 peaks
Ben Nevis, Sca Fell Pike and Snowdon in a line
Up and down we went in all the weathers
Slow, fast, snowy, midgy and sunny fine

With KPG's event we had a biblical deluge
Wasdale was evacuated from the valley not least
We slept in Tescos car park with croissants
The Llanberis Royal Victoria provided a feast

Then came Brave the Beacons in September
Based at Dolygaer in the trees
Alcohol arrived there by the carload
We all thought the challengers would be on their knees..

But no, the vino just spurred them on to do more
To kayak, bike and navigate with much glee
The weather and team spirit was fantastic
And they raised an amazing 50 grand for TCT

And so to the Brutal in Llanberis
A new event organised this year
3 levels of triathlon for competitors
The extreme filled the rest of us with fear

Ann and I ‘womaned’ a bike medic station
Brian said it was like the WI
Yet several mugs of tea later.....he left
And a cyclist emerged for a rubbing on his thigh

All through the night they whizzed past us
The extreme cyclists with their support crews in tow
Asking us how we were seemed the wrong way around
Some amazing professionalism they did show

And then the finish at 1am on Monday morning
Strong winds and driving rain for the finale
11 guys with stamina to die for
Who had all in 40 hours climbed their own Dinali

We have to don coordinated camouflage
Black, grey and orange with some high viz gear
The baseball caps are a perpetual challenge
My Masaai dangly earrings have become corporate wear

So being wise on expedition is essential
To keep healthy and stay safe on this journey
We look forward to 2013 with hope and optimism
For excitement and adventure are a successful life's key.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Mount Elbrus - Part Twelve and Final

Going Home

BJ's obviously been awake and pulled the balcony door to, it's about 6am and I just have to open it as I'm starting to melt again. Pytaigorsk starts to wake up beneath us, but the cockrel is a bit on the slow side, it's well after dawn and the stupid bird has only just started crowing. We start slowly as it's going to be a very long day. At breakfast we ponder who ever would put cabbage in a brioche? Or for that matter potato? Unfortunately they only have green tea, oh for a proper cup of tea, starting the longing just to be home now, to put it all back as it was. After a couple of visits to the buffet we give up and collect our bags from our timber clad box, look finally out across the city to the mountain that brought us here, below us is Andrei and his dodgy jeep that'll be taking us to the airport.

The weirdness that is Russia begins again. At the airport check-in desk is a group of Russian school kids who are either completely intrigued by us or are busy ripping the piss out of us without us realising. The best we can come up with is to return the compliment, we take the piss out of the children, ah! the joy of innocence due to the lack of an understanding of each others’ language. We step up next. BJ's bag just makes 20kg, then a guy steps across and demands that he put his day sack on as well!!! Muzafuka! It now goes 24kgs, "You pay excess for 4kgs - 60R/kg" we argue the toss that it's only what we arrived with, but he won't budge. He hands BJ a coupon and sends him to a desk in the front corner of the hall to pay. Then it's my turn, big bag on, 18kgs!! Wooohooo! Noooo, I have to put my pack on too! Shit!! 26kgs. I turn to him and say "OK I'll change into my big boots" and start to pull them out of my bag, as I do so he relents and says that he'll only charge me 4kgs too, just to get rid of me and the ever impatiently growing queue behind me. HAHA! The downside is that we can't dodge paying as he has kept our passports, he's been here before. After some fruitless wandering we eventually find the correct desk to pay. The girl there speaks no English and attempts to charge BJ 1140r, we guess that she's trying to charge him as 24kgs over. Another round of bartering ensues, we write down 60R x 4kgs = 240R but she counters with 390R, BJ takes it and figures she's just made and easy 150R, about three quid. Before she has chance to pull the same stroke with me I point out the difference on my ticket, ARSE! she's charged me 390R too! Back across to the ticket desk to retrieve our passports, indignantly he returns them and points us around to the customs desk. BJ goes through one desk and I dodge round to another, the race is on. Trouble with ticket, that's checked and is ok, then through the scanner, it goes off, crap! but I get patted down by a rather hot looking lady official (not all bad) but there's a problem with my bag!  What? She says that something's wrong, "Is it the flask?" No? Another, sterner looking lady points to the image of a knife on the banned items poster. BJ figures it must be my Leatherman, f**k! I don't want to lose that. I start pulling all the crap out of my bag, big boots, fleece, ooops skanky boxers, shorts and . . . they tell me to go, but are, according to BJ, laughing at all the kit I have dragged out. Still we're through.  In to a waiting area and in the corner a small snack stand, so it's caviar and Earl Grey while we wait for the flight. Not too shabby! The flight is steaming, no AC on this plane either.

We're in Moscow again before we know it, no traumas. Hunt the bags, grab a trolley and dive through to International Departures, a quick stop at instant tickets and straight to the check-in desk, hhmmm the bags?, again no traumas! Upstairs and through more searches, what are they expecting to happen around here? A quick dive through duty free, a bite to eat and then down to the gate (which they seem to change with great frequency). Next door is a Fosters bar so we grab our last Russian beer and try to get a discount because of my surname, which causes laughs with the staff but alas not a saving. Through the gate and out on to the plane, now this is a classy craft, leather seats, loads of space and we're getting fed, can't be bad, oh! and DVD screens on the back of the seats (am I missing the Tupolevs? Nah).  The front page of the English news papers show the devastation of riots throughout the UK? What has been happening since we've been away, it hasn't been that long. The food's good, we're having fun with the stewardesses and we're going home! But Elbrus hasn’t seen the last of us, that mountain owes us a summit picture so we'll see you back here in 2012.

E-Bob signs off!

Oh and BJ says "seeya!"