Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Young Leader in successful Alp’s venture

The DES is always looking to encourage young leaders to fulfil their potential, that is why we spend so much time, effort and money on training young people to gain the right experience and qualifications.
James Thompson is yet another credit to the DES; his recent trip to Chamonix was a huge success. Read more on what the trip entailed...

Need training to lead your own trip? Contact Keith in the DES office for help and advice.
email: admin@leadingedge.org.uk


Chamonix 2007: James Thompson, Chris Garrett, Richard Brelsford, Charlie Major

Once we arrived in Geneva we caught our mini bus to Chamonix and got ourselves settled at the Camping de la Argentiere campsite, just outside of Argentiere. We got up to date weather forecasts and route conditions, which were all superb up until Wednesday. It was an early finish for us all that evening, getting packed up and ready for an early start hitting the Tour De Glace tomorrow.
On Saturday, we left the camp site at 6.30am and walked up to Le Tour . It took us three hours to reach the refuge at 2700m’s .and the superb views of the Table de Roc and the Chardonet across the glacier. We then headed down to the Tour De Glace, which was a new experience for group members, and went through all the necessary skills for Glacier travel; crampon and ice axe skills to crevasse rescue and set ups. The descent took us two and a half hours and when arriving we were just in time to catch the bus back to the camp site, which I think the team was thankful of. That evening we sat back and relaxed at the camp site, cooking up dinner and going through the plans for tomorrow’s adventures on the Mer De Glace.
The main navigation problems on the trip came about on day two. We were keeping our eyes open whilst walking down the Glacier descent path for that right turn that takes you directly down to the Glacier, not down to the Ice Caves! Once on the right track the path changed into a series of ladders taking us down about 200 metres to the glacier.

The main training for the Mer de Glace was moving together when roped up, which took
us all the way up to the end of the Mer de Glace at the Les Chaux/Glace de Tacul joining point which was a grand lunch spot. During the descent back down the Glacier, the team practiced some more rescue techniques. This was followed by a couple of ice climbing sessions on some of the more easily accessible crevasses, which everyone got on really well with and I think started some new sport bugs. The lads were very keen for getting on some Via Ferrata routes during this expedition, so the climb back out the Glacier using all the ladders and foot pegs was much liked by all of them.

The Refuge was very busy due to a lot of companies bringing clients for training and acclimatising for their planned Mont Blanc trips.
Tuesday morning. We walked across the rocks to the glacier for as far as we could and then all had to get roped up and crampons and ice axes out.. As we approached the Signal Reilly, across some of the steeper terrain, everyone continued straight on but our ‘recky’ and navigation told us that for the traverse we had to head off North West under the mountain. After a quick thought web decided to go ahead with what we thought, trust our own navigation, which took us across some fresh terrain and the only people to ascend the mountain via this route. The route then traversed right under the mountain until we reached a small col that we had to climb up and over to get on the Plateau du Trient. Once on the Plateau we were exposed to all the winds which really dropped the temperature. From there the traverse continued across the West side of the mountain and across some great terrain with a mixture of good exposure, sustained steeper sections and some interesting crevasses and old snow bridges to cross. When moving across the Glacier a few groups members had some concerned thoughts and things to say about the noises coming from it from under there feet, and after explaining that it was the ice moving and cracking weren’t convinced we were on the right path!

Once we got round the mountain we were soon out of the wind and things became a lot quieter.
By the time we reached the final section on the climb, up to the summit of the Aiguille du Tour South Peak, most of the other parties were on there way back down. The final section crossed a fairly simple Bergschrund, traverse across to all the rocks and scree and then from there crampons and axes can be left and it’s a 30 minute scramble up to the summit, which luckily we had all to ourselves. The fellers were all really made up with reaching there first alpine summit and also how blessed with the weather we had been. After climbing back down to where we had left kit, then crossing the Bergschrund we made our way back down to the Tour de Glace via the Normal ascent route of the Aiguille du Tour.

The following day our routes were up the Tete Blanche and then Petite Farche. This involved a scramble with some steeper more exposed sections and the final part of the ridge involved a couple of patches of ice to climb whish gave the route some great variety. The climb of Petite Farche from the summit of Tete Blanche was fairly simple and just involved a short traverse with very little height loss and then a steep 150m face of snow to climb followed by a short scramble to the summit. Both summits gave brilliantly clear panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. From the summit of Petite Farche it took us under 1hour 30min to walk back down to the Albert refuge, traversing down just east of the Col Du Tour. Later that afternoon we began our descent back down to the valley via the West ridge. Descent was very sharp, 1hour 10min back down to Le Tour.

Thursday’s route started off by crossing the Glacier and then climbing a series of ladders to take us onto a track above the Glacier. The route lead us across the lower section of the La Charpoua Glacier and refuge and then traversed round until we were above the Leschaux Glacier and finishing our traverse at the Courvcle hut. After lunch we then began our descent back down to the end of the Mer de Glace, which like the ascent involved a lot of long ladders, foot pegs and metal platforms which were bolted to the rock face. On reaching the Glacier we had to walk from the Tacul/Leschaux joining point back down to the train station at the top of the lower end of the Mer de Glace. The route was a brilliant alpine walk, reaching a highest point of 2700m. The day’s route was listed as being a two day trek, but with an early start can be comfortably done in a single day and took us around eight hours to complete. Not much of a via ferrata route, as many guide books do list it, but a very enjoyable alpine trek.

On our final full day in Chamonix we had plans to do a Via Ferrata route known as Via Ferrata La Tour du Jalouvre. The route took us on a 5 hour round trip and offered a good mixture of both natural and aided climbing. Some sections of the route involved very steep and long ladder systems, sometimes over-hanging. Once higher up on the route we had several bridges to cross including a 16m suspension bridge.

James Thompson

Retirement of DES Chairman

We are sorry to report that our Chairman James Rucker has retired from his role at the AGM held in April. We would all like to thank him for his service to the society over the last ten years.
James has been a Trustee of the DES since 1998, and Chairman of the Trustees and Management Committee since 2002, during which time he has been actively involved, not only with the management and direction of the Society, but also joining in Selection weekends, walks and other activities.
Brought up on a farm, James’s roots are deep in Dorset, and his wife’s family have owned land in the county for over two hundred years. They have three children and four grandchildren. Twenty-six years service in the army involved extensive travel throughout Europe and the Middle East, and after retirement James became Managing Director of the NAAFI, and managed the Froebel Educational Institute. Interests have included tennis, golf, hill walking, gardening and involvement in village activities. He has a passionate interest in the preservation of the countryside, and the encouragement of young people through leadership opportunities and adventurous experience.

James received a leaving gift of a camera and will be succeeded in his role by fellow trustee and good friend Colonel Brian R Anderson.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

REC First Aid Course

Rescue Emergency Care, (REC), is one of the UK's leading outdoor first aid training organisations. The qualification gained is an Emergency First Aid certificate, and is recognised by MLTB, BCU, and RYA . This is essential if you want to lead an expedition!

The next DES First Aid course will be held over the weekend of
Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th March 2008

For further details or to participate on the course please contact Sam Temple either by tel 01305 786066 or e-mail samtemple@samtemple.co.uk

Reflections on twenty years...

With no expedition of my own to grapple with post new hip, I looked around for a summer trip. A beach holiday with Louise ?…no..she’d already made plans to go to Greece and I wasn’t invited !! Was it to be a month of DIY ? Desperation crept in as I lay awake pondering which shade of white to use. And then salvation arrived one evening in the shape of John Hegarty. The conversation turned to 1987 and the very first Ecuador expedition. I sensed that a mellow John, after a good dinner and several tins of Fosters, might be receptive to the idea of a 20 year anniversary re-union. I moved in. Who are your leaders John ? Before I got an answer I added ‘It’s 20 years since the first Ecuador expedition and do you need another leader’ John didn’t laugh. Hmm. In fact he immediately replied yes to the suggestion.
Ecuador is a beautiful country boasting high mountains, mystical cloud forests, the steamy rain forest and the Pacific Ocean in which to play. Tourists are flocking to the incredible Galapagos Islands. Small wonder that John loves Ecuador. The young people who took part in this expedition climbed high Andean peaks, mountain biked through canyons, experienced life in the rain forest, lived on the Pacific Coast and most importantly, met wonderful people.
Much has changed since my 1987 expedition. Ecuador now has the American dollar and its economy appears to be stable due to oil (and possibly drugs money laundering). The new President, Rafael Correa is a mate of the USA bete noir, Chavez of Venezuela so it will be interesting to see how the Americans react.
Ecuador is no longer at war with Peru. But it has Colombia as its northerly neighbour. On the journey to Coca, the gateway to our jungle experience, John’s instructions to the bus driver via Stephen our linguist were brief as we approached a border town; “TELL THE HALF-WIT NOT TO STOP”. Drugs and illegal migrant workers pore over the borders and we witnessed Ecuadorian jungle troops searching vehicles. Colombian troops have made forays into
Ecuador in pursuit of members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces ( FARC). This part of Ecuador is a dangerous place.
On our long bus ride to the rain forest we followed the oil pipeline as it snaked its way towards the depths of the jungle. On the River Napo, one of the tributaries of the mighty Amazon I was amazed to see barges carrying huge lorries most of which were petrol tankers. Speedboats carrying oil workers weaved their way in and out of the traffic like they were on a weekend seaside 'jolly’. The drivers had no intention of slowing down when passing our motorised dug outs. Getting these workers back on site was clearly the priority. I was informed that last year the Amazonian rain forest the size of Ecuador was cut down for soya bean production, logging and beef.
Parts of the old town of the capital Quito are now thriving where not long ago they were no go areas. Yet poverty is never far away and buildings are guarded day and night. Private security is a thriving business with guards look so young many must be on some sort of work experience programme. Armed with pump action shot guns and small arms worn in gun slinger fashion, I doubt that many have been trained in the use of firearms. But Quito is building a new airport and is definitely growing. Shopping Malls ( American style ) are springing up but they’ve yet to get a Starbuck’s, or brew decent beer.

Some things have not changed however:-

  • Old women in the villages carry ridiculous loadswhile their men amble alongside.
  • Bus drivers still overtake on blind hairpin bends.
  • There are more wild dogs than ever. Beingintercepted by a deranged canine while mountainbiking is not fun. At one point I had a pack ofmad hounds on my tail (much to John’samusement) Well aimed kicks while putting onthe gas saved the day
  • The Ecuadorians still drink Nescafe yet they export some of the finest coffee in the world!
  • A month drinking fizzy lager is not a pleasant experience for anyone save John.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Richard Backwell, MBE

Anyone who has met Richard will testify that you won't meet a nicer guy. It seems that the Queen thinks so to - he has been awarded an MBE in her birthday honours (June 2007).
The award is for achievement or service in and to the community that is outstanding in its field; or very local 'hands-on' service which stands out as an example to others. In both cases awards illuminate areas of dedicated service which merit recognition.
Richard's work and commitment with the Greenhill centre and on his expeditions to Nepal, show that he does make an outstanding contribution and well-deserves this honour. Congratulations from everyone at the DES !!!!!!!!!!!

Here is an extract from his latest expedition to Nepal...
A Day to remember - East Lobuche peak 6119 metres

Two O’clock at High camp and right on time our soup arrives. Tim, Helen and myself have spent a reasonably comfortable night squashed together in a two-man tent. The three big guys have the luxury of the larger tent. At 3 am we begin the slow plod up the mountain and I am amazed at the ease with which the guides find the way by torchlight. The snow level is down to about 5,400 feet, but the going is easy and we have little difficulty negotiating a small rock scramble where a rope has been left for our protection.
At four thirty light appears and with crampons fitted we find ourselves crossing a snow ridge with a steep drop on one side. ‘How about roping it?’ is Helen’s sensible suggestion. Though not particularly scary, there are one or two in the group who have never applied an ice axe arrest in earnest.
Dhana and Lapka, our two climbing guides have gone up ahead to set up the fixed ropes and on reaching them I am struck by their similarity to my Mum’s 1950’s washing line. The problem is that this kind of rope kinks badly, so going first you have the problem of straightening the rope as well as moving up your prussic. In addition, the steep ice is brittle, resulting in many a slip so having reached the top of the two hundred foot rope,
Des suggests that Tim takes over the lead.
Our pace quickens slightly but there is one awkward move left on to the summit ridge. Dan kindly offers me a hand up. Two years ago I would have refused. Now at sixty-eight I willingly accept.
The final ridge looks easy but of course it is not and it takes a long time ascending the final fifty metres to the summit. The time is 10.30 am so the ascent has taken seven and a half hours . The views are fantastic. Ama Dablam, Pumori, Lhotse and of course Everest surround us and the ten minutes of relaxation at the top are moments to be treasured. The descent of the fixed
ropes is not much easier than the ascent and all of us slither and slide as exhaustion takes over. At the end of the fixed ropes, Des leads the way down, but the going through soft snow is difficult and Des falls over on numerous occasions.
At 3.30 pm, we reach High camp where a bowl of soup awaits us, the first food we have tasted in thirteen hours. By 4.30 pm, we have struck camp and have split into two groups. Bimal the two climbing guides and one porterare making their way down the Everest Trail with all the climbing hardware, while the rest of us who will later cross the Cho La Pass, are left in
the capable hands of Santa, Bimal’s deputy, to take us to the lodge at Dzongla.
The estimated time to Dzongla is three hours and normally Santa
would be moving off at a slow steady space. Not this time. Santa, who had stayed at High camp during our ascent, not only sets off at a quicker pace but seems reluctant for us to stop for a breather. The reason soon becomes evident. The mist has closed in; it is snowing and Santa is clearly uncertain of finding his way to Dzongla and wants to cover as much ground as possible before dark. At 6.30 pm and as darkness descends we find ourselves down by a river. Santa asks us to stay where we are while he searches downstream for a bridge. Helen, Tim and I meanwhile have looked at a map and feel that the bridge must be upstream, while Steve, our ex-Marine Officer survival expert is already talking with some relish of spending the night in a roofless, flea-ridden yak shelter.
At the same time, I am desperately worried about our two porters who left High camp at different times. Manech and Budhy come from Ghala, a village close to Bimal’s and neither of them have been in the Everest area before. Manech fortunately appears at the same time as Santa and having made a fruitless journey downstream, the two of them set off to try and find the bridge upriver. Twenty minutes later we see their torches on the other side and feel confident that the end is in sight. However, after ten minutes they reappear and Santa is
distraught. Unable to find the bridge, they waded across the river and now have freezing cold feet. I feel desperately sorry for Santa. This lovely man, who has looked after me on so many trips. Getting lost with his clients is to him a big disgrace and he is thoroughly dejected. But what a great group I am with. No one gets upset, everyone rallies round. Spare socks are found and Santa is assured that we will all pull through together.
At this moment there is a whistle and the flash of a torch above and we are relieved to hear Budhy’s voice. In spite of the snow he is sure he is on the track leading upstream to Dzongla and shouts to us to join him. Once on the track, it is Santa’s chance to regain face.
Leaving us with Manech, he sets off along the track and soon we see lights on the far river bank. Our confidence rises. Half an hour later two torch lights bobble along the track and an exhausted Santa and Budhy arrive with biscuits and hot black coffee-pure nectar! We make our way along in the dark appreciating how difficult it must be to find the way in such circumstances.
The lights of the Lodge appear and although the proprietor is happy to cook us a meal, all we can face is our third bowl of soup for the day. With no bedrooms available, we happily pile into a dormitory shared with the porters of another expedition.
10 pm we have been on the go for nineteen hours. I fall asleep dreaming of five star yak sheds.
Richard Backwell

Monday, May 28, 2007

Global Development Links - John Bainbridge

After leaving Weymouth College in June 2004 John decided, like many people of his age, to take a gap-year before proceeding to university. After working and travelled in the Indian subcontinent for roughly six months, he returned to the UK with fresh ideas about his future career but more immediately about his degree.
After careful consideration he declined a place studying ‘Sports Science with Outdoor Education’ and began to look into the social sciences. It was not that his passion for the outdoors had been lost or even subdued – it was more a conscious decision to keep sport as a hobby rather than make it a livelihood. He applied and was accepted to study ‘International Development’ in London with and eye to making a living in the charity sector, ideally within Humanitarian Relief or Project Design. He is now at the half way point of his course and loving every second of it! The course is mainly focussed around the study of poverty and the developing world and includes a wide range of modules. From refugee studies to politics, economics, trade and history, this subject truly is lesson in the global issue that we all must face.

In the first week of his first term John stumbled across a student run charity called Global Development Links.
The project was mainly environmentally based working within deprived committees on reforestation programmes. Only accessible firstly by plane and then by speed boat, John and his group were truly isolated with no roads, phones or hospitals.
John firmly believes that he would not have had this opportunity offered him nor would he have considered undertaking such a task if it wasn’t for the experience and confidence that he had gained from the DES.
After returning from Peru John applied for the position of Director of GDL, was successful, and in October 2006, took up his new role. The position is difficult and demanding and requires roughly 25 hours a week work but he finds his passion for what they are achieving at GDL spurs him on. .Such commitment has received universal recognition, and John was recently presented to HM The Queen, where he spoke on the work of the charity.

GDL, much like the DES, is a non-profit driven charity that offers students the chance to get involved in overseas projects at a cost price. GDL is currently focussing its efforts on a project in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania that is in its third year of operations. Having recently received the backing of the Department for International Development (DFID) it is moving from strength to strength with over 15 volunteers going out this year to take part in the project.
Students must be over 18 and ideally have an interest in international development however this is not necessarily essential and the enthusiasm and willingness to learn top any other prerequisite. To find out more about GDLs projects or how to get involved please visit www.gdl.org.uk or email John at john@gdl.org.uk.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Ride over the Rockies in memory of Cara, 14

Dorset Evening Echo, 5 August 2006 by Paul Greaves

BLUES music producer Tom Hopkins is planning a 600-mile charity cycle trip in memory of a Weymouth schoolgirl killed on holiday.
Tom, 60, will cycle through the Canadian Rockies later this month to raise funds for the Cara Weaver Fund.
Cara, 14, died in a cable car accident in 2001 while on holiday with her parents and brother in South Africa.
The Wey Valley School pupil had visited the first of Tom's blues summer schools for talented young musicians and following her death a fund was set up to provide bursaries for other youngsters to attend.

Tom, who has just retired from his job as a higher education consultant, said: "Cara was a talented musician, her death was an enormous blow to her family and friends, and a loss to the local music community.

"The Cara Weaver Fund was founded with the aim of raising money to support young people in achieving their ambitions - musical, sporting and educational.
"I've wanted to do this ride since I first saw people cycling in the Rockies while driving through them in 1989. I'd now like to use my bike to try and put some money back into the fund so that it can help more young people."
Tom will personally meet the £2,000 costs of the nine-day trip but is looking for people to sponsor him.
The Cara Weaver Fund has provided bursaries for young people to attend blues summer schools over the last five years and helped launch the Big Girls Blues' singing project for local women in 2005. All money raised will go directly to the fund.
If you are interested in sponsoring Tom, send your pledge to Gilly Weaver, Grove House, Osmington, DT3 6EZ, or email Gilly.Weaver@ btinternet.com
Cheques can be sent to Mandy Cockwell, The Wey Valley School, Dorchester Rd, DT3 5AN. Cash/cheques (payable to the Cara Weaver Fund) can be deposited at the HSBC Bank, St Mary's Street, Weymouth

Friday, May 12, 2006

Kenya Update: Building on success

DES expeditions to Kenya started in 1999. Since then 7 student groups and 3 adult teams totalling 280 expeditioners have made a major impact in the Murugi location close to Mt. Kenya. As well as climbing Mt. Kenya to 16,355ft, River Rafting and Safaris in the Masai Mara the community project work has been remarkably successful.

The Baragu Health Centre has been open for 4 years now and 95% of the cost of the project has been donated by the Kenya expedition groups and the government have increased the nurse allocation to 7 to cope with the 100 patients a day who queue for treatment. Students on the Kenya expeditions have to commit to project fundraising and they have passed £45,000.

Budmouth Technology College students, parents and teachers have raised over half this total mainly through the efforts of the Duke of Edinburgh Award group and the Kenya Fundraising week – starting on 27th March – go along to support these events if you can.

2005 set a new record with 50 DES members going on the 2 expeditions to Kenya. One was a special team comprising students from Paignton Community College and South Devon College. South Devon College moved site at Xmas and the college Principal kindly donated large amounts of surplus equipment for our 3 supported schools in Kenya.

A sea container was loaded along with surplus books from Budmouth Technology College and the Easter 2006 adult group (team of 16) is going out to allocate the 4 tons of goods to Wiru Secondary, Wiru Primary and Gitare Primary Schools.

The global schools partnership between Budmouth Technology College and Wiru Secondary School was established 2 years ago and last summer Franklin Bundi, the Headteacher, visited Weymouth to further the link as well as participate in the Bridgenorth 22mile sponsored walk. He was really spying on our football training sessions but despite this our team won convincingly on Kenyan soil in August – maybe because the Kenyans were playing bare footed and we crippled a few!!!

A new link has now been created between St Johns Primary and Wiru Primary. John and Sally Horrell and Kimberley and Diamond Dukes are travelling out at Easter to develop the partnership. Josie Hastings and Kirsty Legg along with Budmouth Principal Dave Akers are also in the Easter team.

The Kenya 2006 team are well established and will again find themselves getting blisters from breaking rocks and mixing concrete for new classrooms as well as painting everything a delicate shade of Bermuda Blue!!!!

Plans are developing for 2007 and anyone interested in travelling to Kenya either for a short 2 week project based adult expedition at Easter or on the 4 week main DES trip in July/August is invited to give me a call on 01305 813012.

Martyn Hastings

New Trustee Colonel Brian R Anderson

Brian Anderson was born in Woking in October 1947. He was educated at Tonbridge and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was commissioned with the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards in December, 1967. After serving in a wide variety of appointments in the UK, Germany, Northern Ireland, Canada, and Cyprus, he assumed Command of the Regiment in 1987. He also had a number of appointments away from the Regiment, including the Assistant MA to the Adjutant General. He was Equerry to HRH, the Prince of Wales between 1985 and 1987.

After three years in Command of his Regiment, he filled a number of training appointments before serving in Bosnia and MA to the Commander of Operations. He then spent three years as the Senior British Liaison Officer to the U.S. Army in Europe, subsequently finishing his career as the Garrison Command in Osnabruck, Germany in December 2003.
Brian now lives in Tarrant Keynston near Blandford with his wife, Joanne. He is employed part-time with a charity in Salisbury.

He is a keen sportsman and used to particularly enjoy playing rugby. His current interests include all field sports, equestrian activities, as well as gardening. He is also an avid fitness trainer at the local gym.

Snowdonia Charity Challenge 17 June 2006

Teams of four are invited to join this unique challenge to raise funds for REGAIN. The event is now in its sixth year.

The challenge starts in Llanberis from where teams set off on the first leg of a 40-mile circular cycling route around Snowdon.

Along the way they will have to climb Snowdon itself before completing the cycling section and heading for a grand finish across Lake Padarn in canoes.

Team members do not need canoe experience as rafted (roped together) Canadian canoes are used.

Three groups from Weymouth will be participating, this year. Dave Akers will be taking part, Mark Salmon is taking part in the Chesil team and Cat Freeman will be leading the Budmouth Technology College team.

Each team has to raise a minimum sponsorship of £1,800, so if you would like to contribute please contact the teams. Budmouth have a sponsorship website.

We wish them all the very best of luck!

Youth Matters

There is a whole raft of government initiatives currently rolling out of the
DFES. Besides the Manifesto for Education Outside the Classroom (see page 7) the
Green Paper on Youth: Youth Matters aims to ‘..address key issues on how we
support and challenge our teenagers’.

The Young Explorers’ Trust is playing a pivotal role in persuading the numerous government committees of the worth of expeditions. Clearly the Forum that meets regularly under its aegis is having an effect on current thinking. According to the YETNEWS, the Green Paper ‘..makes it clear that there is a wish to move outside the box of ‘youth work’ and increase opportunities for youngsters to be alive to exploring new ideas’.

The first of the four key aims is to ‘engage more young people in positive activities’. Results can
best be achieved by ‘involving a wide range of organisations from the voluntary, community and private sectors’

The Green Paper states that ‘teenagers, their parents, and communities all want more positive things to do, and better places to go for young people’. Societies such as the DES already do that as do its members acting independently or working in schools.

Interestingly enough, Local Authorities often seen by many in the expedition world as being too defensive or down right obstructive are now expected to come on board by taking a major role in ‘commissioning’ developments. They will be encouraged to fund young people directly through ‘opportunity cards’. Further more they should set up ‘opportunity funds’ to spend on projects. The government has pledged £40 million capital funding from April 2006 for creative strategic investment in new youth facilities. The document can be viewed online visit: www.dfes.gov.uk/publications/youth

G4 Land Rover Challenge 2006

Known as ‘the ultimate adventure’, the G4 challenge offers men and women from
eighteen nations the opportunity to match strategy, stamina and skill in an
awesome 4x4 driving and multi-sport challenge. Working in bi-national teams,
competitors are matched against each other across four consecutive stages
spanning Southeast Asia and South America.

The 2006 Land Rover G4 Challenge promises to be tougher and more spectacular than ever. This time the action starts amongst the intensity of Bangkok city, and ends at high altitude on the plains of Bolivia. In between lie thousands of miles of vehicle-based adventure, strategy and sweat. At the end of it all waits a new Range Rover for the winner, and the knowledge that they completed a tough test of both body and mind for everyone who competed in the event.

Over ten thousand people applied over the world to take park and only fifty of the UK applicants made it to the National selection weekend on Saturday 19th Nov. One DES member was lucky enough to be amongst those chosen. Here is Ed Flower’s account of what happened.

The brief:

I was told to register on site at Ordnance Survey grid reference SP164821. I had to be at this location no earlier than 0700hrs, and no later than 0800hrs on Saturday the 19 November. Late arrivals would be turned away. I arrived at 0705hrs, fashionably late.
We had been told to be prepared for activities including running, camping overnight, navigating, obstacle courses, 4 x 4 driving, vehicle familiarisation, kayaking, climbing and physical aptitude. We would be pushed to the limit, physically challenged and mentally tested.

We spent Saturday doing activity after activity from 9am to 3pm. These ranged from mountain biking through rivers to mental aptitude tests. It was non-stop physical and mental torture. Ok torture may be a little strong, but it was tough. As the challenge unfolded the tasks became harder; by far the worst was running through a brown muddy river up to my waist with ice floating around me: it was very, very cold!

It took me back twelve years to that chilly winter weekend in South Wales when I did my selection weekend for the Dorset Expeditionary Society. At eighteen I had been fortunate enough to take part in a similar type of activity. On my selection weekend for Moonlands 1992, I had faced physical challenge as well - I recall jumping into a river in South Wales in December then. Believe it or not, the experience in South Wales set me up.

When the G4 selection staff told you to do something you just did it. You never asked why. At the end of the day how bad could it get? Would I die? Well it truly did get very bad but, WOW, what a weekend! The highlight for me was driving a Land Rover Defender 110 through a river. (A highlight for two reasons: firstly it was an awesome experience driving off-road and secondly because I sat in the cab for a fantastic warm twenty minutes without being shouted at to push harder or dig deeper).

As 3pm arrived, it came to make the split: twenty-five people would remain to continue through to the night challenge and twenty-five would be forced to leave.

The film crew arrived, eager to capture the moment and in true TV fashion the original group of fifty contenders was split in two. Then the announcement came. I did not make the final stage. However it did not matter. From over 1,200 I had made the last fifty who could represent their county in one of the worlds toughest adventure races. I met some amazing people, some of the best adventure racers in the UK. I got to compete against them.

It was an amazing weekend that to be honest would never have been possible without the Dorset Expeditionary Society. Being able to list expeditions to India ,(92), Pyreness (94) and Ecuador (02, 05) on my application undoubtedly put me in contention. So a big thanks to all!!!….

Ed Flower

Monday, March 06, 2006

Churchill Fellowship Award for Mark Salmon

The Dorset Expeditionary Society is proud to announce that Mark Salmon has been awarded a 2006 Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowships for his wilderness mountain biking youth expedition.

Mark is a teacher of physical education and teacher in charge of outdoor education at The Wey Valley School, Weymouth; he has taken part in and run many expeditions with the DES. These have included trips to Nepal, Colorado, Spain, French Alps and Mt. Rainier. Mark is very involved in the delivery of the outdoor and residential programme at the Wey Valley School.

Mark was part of the challenging June 2004 expedition to Alaska, where he and fellow teachers Ollie Bray and Clive Burgess climbed Mount McKinley (Denali) to raise funds for the Claire Clements Trust, which provides a hardship fund to young people who want to take part in expeditions but who otherwise could not afford to participate.

Denali is the highest mountain on the North American continent and the tallest mountain in the world. The vertical relief of 5,486m between its base to the summit at 6,194m is greater even than that of Mount Everest. Denali is situated in the Alaska Range in the USA.

Mark is keen to encourage student interest in his trips and maintains hi-tech websites that allow students to follow his adventures.

For details on the Denali expedition see: www.geographyataltitude.co.uk
For his forthcoming Colorado expedition see: www.bikecolorado.co.uk

For more details on applying for Churchill Fellowship Awards see the website: www.wcmt.org.uk

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