5 steps to an epic volcano-climbing adventure (without making my mistakes)

460Just over two years ago I came up with a crafty idea. I thought, why not set myself the ambitious quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 – a feat that needed to be achieved in a five-and-a-half-year time frame?

It was a bold, daring plan, borne out of a fascination of lava and plate tectonics… and the itchy-feet desire to make more of my life and challenge myself. I’d just quit my pharmaceutical journalism job of five years to go freelance and I needed a new purpose. I chose adventure. Continue reading

Age is no excuse if you’re up for the challenge

Are you too old to set out on your dreams? Forge a new path? Take on a physically demanding challenge?

According to society’s standards I technically have passed my peak (I cry tears into my wine glass while examining the grey hairs sprouting from my temples). Even my mother recently told me I was classed as old now. (Thanks mum!) Continue reading

A new approach to #40by40

Back when I first started dreaming about this idea to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, I

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Mt Ngauruhoe in the background – on the list for next year

spent an age on Google getting whipped up in the excitement of rugged volcanic landscapes, bubbling lava, snow-capped cones, and wilderness and vistas as far as the eye could see.

 

I put together a grand list of 40 volcanoes – they were dotted on practically every corner of the globe; some on islands in the middle of the ocean, others in remote and often exotic locations, requiring days of trekking to reach. Many were active, with lava lakes or hissing vents. And more than several were majestic in their height, taking on the craggy peaks in the French Alps, and promising winter mountaineering experiences.

It was a dizzying list. Just looking at it made me giddy, bursting with adrenalin and excitement. Continue reading

The motivation behind the #40by40 volcano quest

When I first embarked on my quest last year to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, I was img_0842driven by the desire to challenge myself, push myself outside my comfort zone and find my full potential. Ultimately, I was in search of a new me, to find out who I really was and what I was capable of.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the year and a half since I started this journey of self discovery has been a bit of a rollercoaster. The mental challenge to start and continue has been immense, and it’s been a shock and something of a revelation as to how my mind works and how much I doubt myself and my abilities. And that is incredibly depressing, which really just adds further fuel to the self-doubt fire, becoming a vicious cycle of self-doubt heaped on self-doubt. Continue reading

Feeling the pain: When not to give up

Say you’re running a marathon. You love running, you’ve trained hard and you’re running for a good cause, yet about halfway through you hit a wall – not literally but figuratively. Your energy levels slump, every movement creates a shockwave of pain radiating through your body, and your heart wants to leap out of your chest. Tears prick your eyes as the evil little thoughts start to infiltrate into your head – “You can’t do this,” they say. “You’re tired,” they say. “It’s ok to give up,” they say.

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Mud, vertical climbs and volcano number two

The jungle on Nevis Peak
“That was your warm up. Now you climb.”
Those were the words of our buff 57-year-old guide as we stood in a scraggly jungle of moss-covered trees, vines and ferns, staring at a criss-cross ladder of tree roots that ascended heavenward. We’d been walking up hill for the past 20 or so minutes, going deeper into the thick lush bush that carpeted the slopes of the volcano dominating the small Caribbean island Nevis. If I wanted to get to the summit in my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, then the only way was up.

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Volcano number 2 update

Lizard Point – most southerly part of the UK
It’s all rather busy at the moment. My folks from New Zealand are currently visiting the UK. After a delightful week and a half of entertaining them in Londonthey have gone off on a road trip of England. I decided, right at the last minute (after having a mini meltdown), that I would indeed join them for a few days to enjoy the sights of Cornwall. It was bliss.
Eden Project
Now I’m back in London and I have three days before I jet off to St Kitts and Nevis – a two-island nation in the west Caribbean featuring beaches, volcanoes, rainforests, monkeys, former sugarcane plantations, and thankfully no Zika virus (yet). It is here that I will be climbing volcano number two in my #40by40 quest.

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What are you scared of?

Almost a year ago I quit my editor’s job to go freelancing. That was a big decision; it was tough. But equally it was liberating. And now I can’t imagine having to step foot in an office everyday, let alone share a commuter train twice a day with stressed-out lemmings.
But this almost-year of freelancing has been interesting and more difficult than I expected it would be. If I thought quitting my job was hard, that has been nothing in comparison with grappling with the fear and self-doubt of venturing out on the hare-brained idea to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40. The woeful tally so far being a big fat one! (I sit here writing this with the self-pity coming off me in waves).
The fact is, in the past 10 months I’ve experienced a rollercoaster of emotions – from the jubilation of employment freedom to the finger-biting worry of where the next pay cheque will come from, and a whole mish-mash in between.

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Would you walk the Caminito del Rey – the world’s most dangerous walk?

“Holy Moly, Batman & Robin! Just looked up Caminito del Rey and had a very buttock clenching moment. That walkway makes the Kepler [Track] look like child’s play. Txt me to let me know you are safely through. Hope at least one of you can get this on your phones. Mum xx”
Mid walk
When your mother sends a frantic email, urgently requiring you to let her know you’re safe because she happened to Google the Caminito del Rey, you know the walk you’ve embarked on is a real doozie.

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The tentative plan – and how it all changed

It has not passed me by that we have already entered March and I have yet to tick off volcano number 2, let alone have any constructive plans in place. I have no excuses for my woeful expedition planning. But shame on me all the same.
Last year, I had a brilliant strategy. Mt Vesuvius, Italy, and Mt Teide, Tenerife, last year and then seven volcanoes this year: Stromboli and Mt Etna, Italy; Mt Eyjafjallajökull and Thrihnukagigur volcano, Iceland; Mt Ararat, Turkey; Jebel Sirwa; Morocco; and Nevis Peak, St Kitts and Nevis, Caribbean.
And then it all went a bit Pete Tong.

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