Mentally Preparing for a High Altitude Adventure

There is no getting away from it, high altitude training is as tough as it is rewarding. In order to reach whatever summit you have set your sights on, you need to be in the right place mentally. This might sound easier said than done but if you follow these pointers you will be well on the way to reaching great heights (excuse the pun). Seriously though, to have success, you need to be strong mentally and emotionally, have a positive attitude and be able to think in the moment. Last week I wrote about the physical challenges, this post deals with the mental.

Physically Preparing for a High Altitude Adventure

If you are preparing to embark on a high altitude adventure, as well a strong mental disposition, you will also need to be physically prepared. It can be tough going and you need to be in peak condition as lets face it, once you get to high altitude, there isn’t an easy way out. To ensure you are ready for the demands high altitude will throw at you, you will need to put a significant amount of time and energy into a training regime. The last thing you want is your body not being up to the challenge when you are facing extreme conditions. In order to prepare as well as possible, there are four key areas you need to focus on.

Altitude Training

As well as the necessary fitness training (which we will come to), to properly prepare yourself for high altitude, you need to acclimatise to high altitude. This may sound like common sense but is vital. For those lucky enough to have access to hypoxic tents, altitude training is made a lot easier. For most people though, it involves heading to the hills for short duration climbs which will allow your body to increase your efficiency at dealing with altitude.

Strength Building

Hauling your body up around with a heavy backpack of supplies obviously requires a degree of physical strength. Make sure you hit the gym and focus on squats, pullups, pushups, lunges and dips as well as some free weight training. It may sound daft but once you get to a comfortable point in your training, try training with your backback on too to mimic real-world conditions.

Stamina Training

It is safe to say, you won’t be up and down a peak such as Everest in a matter of hours so you need to ensure you have the right levels of stamina. You need to have a right mixture of aerobic and anaerobic training so you can deal with high intensity and continuous movement.

You should ensure you training includes cycling, running, swimming and gym classes for the aerobic as well as interval training or Fartlek training to help improve your endurance.

Climb

It seems like common sense but getting as much actually climbing experience in before your big test is essential. As well as your endurance training, getting as much ‘boot on rock’ experience in will pay dividends when you come to your summit day.

If you keep on track with these four areas, you should be as prepared as possible for your big day. The only thing to remember then is to try and enjoy what will be a truly memorable experience.

Find out more out our trips here.

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Camping In Antarctica

It may not be for everyone but a visit to Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. With its stunning views and wildlife, it’s one of the most fascinating places in the world. But as beautiful as it is, it’s also the coldest continent and therefore comes with challenges. The environment itself can be dangerous. Even in the summertime, it’s extremely cold. You should be in good health if visiting Antarctica because only basic medical treatment is available. It is the challenges, however, that make the Antarctic the ultimate destination for outdoor enthusiasts/campers.

legendary arctic cruise ship Kapitan Khlebnikov When is the best time to go on a cruise to Antarctica

Planning a cruise to Antarctica but don’t know when to go? Depending on which season you decide to make your voyage will change what you see when you finally get to the majestic southern seas that make up the waters of Antarctica. With views of stunningly huge icebergs and colonies of tens of thousand penguins all year round, Antarctica isn’t a place that comes to mind when we think of the seasons, but depending on the wildlife you want to see, the time of year plays a huge part in planning your trip.

The Spiritual Heritage of the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is a 2-5 day trek that takes keen explorers across a gorgeous stretch of the ancient Incan empire, ultimately arriving at one of the best known landmarks of the Incan civilization: Machu Picchu. Taking in the trail is said to be an experience of incomparable spiritual wealth, and modern day adventurers aren’t the first people to think so – the Incans used to make their own pilgrimages to Machu Picchu, and although historians disagree as to the exact purpose for the ancient settlement, they all agree that travelling there was a matter of great spiritual importance. Here are some of the most exciting spiritual ruins to catch on the Inca Trail.

Port Lockroy in Antarctica Antarctica’s Penguin Post Office

I was really pleased to see that the BBC have included Port Lockroy in Antarctica as the subject of a programme in their natural world series (Thursday 24 July on BBC2). I haven’t been there yet; I was scheduled to call on my last trip, but it was right at the end of the season and the weather was so bad, with force11 winds, blizzard conditions and high seas, that it was impossible to get even close.

You Should Definitely Take an Antarctica Cruise. Here’s Why.

 

A luxury cruise vessel in antarctica

If you find the usual holiday suggestions in your local travel agency a bit bland for your taste, why not consider something a little different, like an Antarctica cruise?  Not your traditional holiday, a trip to the South Pole region will open your eyes and bring great reward to those intrepid enough to make the journey. Continue reading

An express trip, flying in to enjoy the riches of Antarctica's wildlife MS Ocean Nova, Deception Island, Whalers Bay

Earlier this season, Simon Rowland from Antarctica Bound travelled to Antarctica using the flight across the Drake Passage, rather than sailing across the Drake Passage to and from Ushuaia.

Earlier this season, Wildfoot Travel’s Simon Rowland travelled to Antarctica using the flight across the Drake Passage, rather than sailing across the Drake Passage to and from Ushuaia. Here is his first hand account of this unique express trip to enjoy Antarctica’s gleaming white wilderness.

Continue reading

From Punta Arenas over the Drake Passage

Earlier this season, Simon Rowland from Wildfoot Travel travelled to Antarctica using the flight across the Drake Passage, rather than sailing across the Drake Passage to and from Ushuaia. The following is instalment 1 of 2 of his impressions of the trip. Continue reading

South Georgia Island Rat Eradication Program

It was really interesting reading the latest news from the South Georgia Rat-Eradication Project  team as the Antarctica summer season come to a close. Now, the nights are very quickly drawing in, the weather is becoming increasingly stormy and snow is already falling. By now, most of the scientists who spend the southern summer on the island have shipped out and just a hardy few remain to endure the winter there.

3 helicopters owed and operated by the South Georgia Heritage Trust

South Georgia Island Heritage Trust’s three helicopters.

But is looks as though the team has had a really good season and, subject to funding, can complete the project by early 2015, which will be an amazing achievement.

I first visited South Georgia three years ago, also at the end of the season and that is when I first heard about the rat eradication programme. South Georgia is the most amazing wildlife habitat, especially for birds. It is probably best known for its vast colonies of king penguins – nobody can fail to be awed by their first sight of these beautiful, inquisitive and sometimes comical birds, and stepping ashore from a zodiac and walking amongst thousands of them is a magical experience (even if you do have to keep moving away from the young fur seals who are constantly nipping at your heel!) But there are so many other birds; several species of albatross, prions, petrels and the tiny South Georgia pipit, only found on this island.

And this where the rat problem comes in – they eat the eggs in any accessible nest and don’t care how rare a particular bird might be! Rats have been on the island for hundreds of years, having arrived in the holds of whalers from Europe and America. They quickly established them selves and with a ready supply of food, multiplied into millions.

Every scientist and naturalist who visited the island became aware of the problem but there really was no solution – after all, how could you rid such a massive area of such a massive number of rodents? But a few people did have a vision and knew that there had been successful programmes on a smaller scale elsewhere – none though in such a remote and inhospitable area. That vision paid off with grants and donations of money, equipment, manpower and other resources.

In theory, the solution was simple: drop poisoned bait in controlled areas and wait for the rats to die. This is obviously not as straightforward as it sounds. The areas do have to be controlled and you wouldn’t want rats just walking back in and taking clear areas over again. This was partially solved by the island’s geography. South Georgia is not only mountainous, but has hundreds of glaciers flowing into the sea. Glaciers are not a rat-friendly environment and therefore once an area is clear, rats cannot reappear. Of course, glaciers are receding worldwide, so it was also important to undertake the project as soon as possible, since if a glacier no longer flows into the sea, rats could simply walk along the beach!

But, it is the logistics of the exercise which make it daunting. The helicopters and may of the crew are shipped in from New Zealand with as many spares as are, on the one hand considered necessary and on the other, practicable. Crews then have to contend with erratic weather conditions and always be prepared for the unexpected. They are supported informally by a New Zealand fishing boat, which sails the Southern Ocean and delivers ad hoc spare parts.

This latest report, which has reached Antarctica Bound, as a supporter of the rat eradication project, really is encouraging and areas now free of rodents are recovering progressively and the songs of pipits and petrels are being heard again. It is an incredibly expensive project and funds to continue (and complete) in 2015 are not yet fully in place, so project leaders are looking into all sources of possible support. I personally sponsored a hectare of South Georgia, which is now rat free and I am pretty sure that many of the visitors to the island who arrive on the island on expedition ships do so too. After all, we are all supporters of conservation with a keen interest in wildlife and ecology. At Antarctica Bound, we take responsible tourism very seriously.

As an aside, such programmes are also aimed at restoring viable habitats to their natural state and expelling non native species is a key component of this. The only other introduced mammal on South Georgia is the reindeer, brought there as a source of food by Norwegian whalers in the 19th century. There is a long-term objective to bring those off the island too, but that is going to be a completely different story. Watch this space!!

Find out more about our trips to South Georgia Island and Antarctica here

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The only word to describe it, is…. Awesome!

To all At Antarctica Bound

Le Boreal 18 feb 2013

Superlatives abound – a truly amazing experience especially as we ‘bagged’ our 7th continent on a brilliant sunny day with blue skies and no wind.  What a team – from the captain to the chambermaid everyone worked together to ensure our experience was second to none.  The expedition team were extremely knowledgeable and loved their work. If something interesting was spotted from the bridge the microphone would be lifted and this information shared with all passengers. ‘Awesome’ is a word used by today’s young people but this is the only word which could describe our experience.  Thanks to all for making it such a memorable experience.

 

The Boreal is a beautiful ship – very intimate – not all cabins have balconies although the blurb in the brochures says they do!  The ones without balconies on deck 3 are larger 

 

Thanks to your team @AB for arranging accommodation and transfers

 

Comments    Dazzzler suites were fine – good location unfortunately there is building work going on on both sides of the building – no long lies!  Excellent English spoken by reception staff – nothing was a trouble to them

Transfers – not always when stated – obviously people cannot be at the hotel exactly at the time stated but after quarter of an hour has passed beyond the expected time, I get twitchy!  The time on the pick up schedule was different from ours so that caused a bit of concern

Charter flight by Ponant would have been good – we had to go 1st class (Air Argentine) to get luggage allowance – hardly first class!!!!  No alcohol and a ‘bun’ to eat!!!!!!!!

 

Tango evening was good and to be recommended.

 

Other trips we did were Graffiti tour, Argentine Experience and a sightseeing tour (all arranged through Opodo)  all to be recommended.  Also yellow hop on hop off bus available in BA – I had searched the Internet to no avail looking for one – expected the traditional red one but……………..

 

Best exchange rate was on the street!!!

 

Beware of organised gangs working the underground – husband had his wallet stolen –

 

Feel free to use my review if you wish

 

Thanks again and hopefully Lynn P will get my credit card problem solved

 

Regards

 

Ann & John MacLeod

Penguins, Orcas, Humpbacks, Seals and (of course) Icebergs

Hi Lynn / Steven

 

We had an absolutely amazing time.  I can’t speak highly enough of the Quark Expedition team – their knowledge, enthusiasm and engagement with the group were exceptional.  I would recommend them to anyone thinking of going. The brilliant weather, the fact that we landed and/or zodiac cruised 5 times below the Circle as well as landing in the usual “tourist” sites made this a really special trip. Plus we had penguins, orcas, humpbacks and more penguins and leopard seals, one of which punctured a zodiac with a friendly nip. Oh, icebergs too of course and endless beautiful scenery.

 

I will sort through my photos “soon” and if I have any worthy of sharing, I will forward them.  Quark gave us a DVD which has all the best photos from the group plus a highlights reel which should encourage anyone to give it a go.  I don’t know if they would let you use or see the highlights – but you could ask them.

 

I am sorely tempted to book another trip right now – but will wait until my rational head returns before doing anything.  As a tip for future travellers, I’d suggest staying a couple of nights in Ushuaia. Quark booked us into Los Cauquenes which was a far better hotel than I was expecting. Weather permitting, there are several excursions around Ushuaia. You won’t see the Magellan penguins in the Beagle Channel on the main trip because the ships leave late and arrive early in the day, so if penguins are your thing, take the penguin island trip or the channel cruise. The concierge at Los Cauquenes organised a driver and guide to take the 2 of us into the National Park for a 4 hour tour / picnic which we really enjoyed (don’t bother with the train – you will see more on foot). The hotel offers several other “experiences” which I assume are just as good. We thought our picnic would be a sandwich in a paper bag – but in fact we were sent a menu the day before (3 choices of main and dessert) and it was served on a table and chairs with hot coffee by the driver in a location of our choice in the park.

 

 

Regards

 

Marie

Perfect! Despite bronchitis

Dear Lynn,

You must think that I am extremely rude not emailing you before now and telling you about our cruise.

Well, we had a fantastic holiday and the cruise was really excellent. The only major setback was that I had managed to catch a bug on a short trip to Geneva before we departed for Argentina and started the the cruise with a stinking cold and cough. This, of course, morphed into bronchitis and I had two trips to the ship’s doctor. but this didn’t stop us having a good time.

The ship was perfect. Just over 200 passengers, spotlessly clean, excellent food and not too much of it and the wine wasn’t bad except that the red was undrinkable in my opinion. The cruise was very much orientated on the wildlife aspect which, although we realised that at the time, was a little too overbearing at times. For instance, do i wish to be woken up in the night to get up and see a couple of whales! No!  It was a shame that we didn’t visit Port Stanley in the Falklands as the small British contingent would have liked that. Incidentally, we were surprised how few British there were on board just three couples and one family of four.

We knew it was a French ship and over half the passengers were French. No problem for me as I speak the language but not good for non-speakers. The commentary in English was always less than half that in French and I ended up by having to translate. The staff were excellent all of them knowing our likes and dislikes in no time.

Sandy ended up as being very much the Captain’s favourite so we were lucky to dine with him twice and get to know him on other occasions.

One major problem was the embarkation and disembarkation procedure. We solved the embarkation as we were staying in a hotel prior to boarding but disembarkation was a shambles. The port of Ushuaia need to be consulted on this in order to arrive at a positive solution. On getting our luggage from the ship to outside the port entrance I told Sandy that if I didn’t get a heart attack after everything that I had to push and carry then I never shall!

Finally, thank you to you and everybody we spoke to for all your help and assistance.

Best wishes,

Ian

Antarctica – tick that item off the bucket list!
Dear Steven, Tina and Lynn,
Thank you for your email welcoming Caryll and I back home. We arrived back last evening after staying a couple of nights in Buenos Aires en route.
Regarding L’Austral, we cannot offer enough praise to all staff. Both the ship’s crew and the expedition leaders worked exceptionally hard to ensure as much time as possible could be given either ashore, zodiac cruising and lectures on board.
The weather was kind to us throughout the 16 days and extra visits were crammed in, including at The Falkland Islands, South Georgia, The South Orkneys (Monroe Island) and the Antarctic Peninsular. We were able to go as far south through The Lemaire Channel and Pleneau (both zodiac cruising and landing on Pleneau Island. (Port Charcot was planned but was still iced in, so Pleneau was a good alternative).
The best way to describe the entire experience:
1. Antarctica Bound – A top rate service. Whenever queries were raised, they were dealt with efficiently and with a quick response. We would not hesitate to recommend you to others and to use you again if the opportunity arose.
2. L’Austral – Well above the average. Forever helpful and smiling faces from all crew members and expedition leaders. An extremely high level of safety, especially in embarking / disembarking zodiacs and shore landings. Excellent dining and service. A clean and well run ship. Absolutely no problems.
3. Ushuaia transfers and LAN Flights Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and return – Transfers well organised and efficient. LAN flights…. well what do you expect on a charter flight. It is worth noting that the aircraft used was an Airbus 320. This aircraft has rather small overhead lockers in the cabin and hence the need to stress the importance of keeping hand baggage within the 8 kgs limit. We had no problems but others did. Even those with rolled up red parkas had difficulties !!!
For Caryll, Antarctica was on her holiday ‘hit list’, so she has ticked that box.
For me, I spent 2 summers in the 1970’s working in Antarctica and just knew I had to go back. I am now very satisfied and can close that door.
We haven’t had time to analyse the best parts of the holiday nor to look at out best photos, so that will have to wait for another day.
What next for us……….. we would very much like to go northwards during a forthcoming winter to see The Northern Lights but not necessarily on a cruise. Iceland seems to appeal. So please keep us informed on your best offers.
Once again, thank you very much for the support you gave us and the help to make it such a memorable holiday.
Best regards
JohnCope