Getting trip-ready for an expedition // Sinai 2015
One definition for an expedition is ‘a journey or voyage undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose, esp. that of exploration’.
Exploration and discovery are great reasons to embark on a climbing expedition; to be able to find those pure untouched lines of rock that no one has ever climbed, to be the one who made it there first. But before those goals can be reached, a lot of work must go in to prepare you to reach those peaks in distant lands.
Choosing a climbing destination
Where to start from then? First things first, you need to find a destination that inspires you so much that you are ready to put in the necessary effort of training, time and money. Arguably this is the easiest part of any expedition. The world is full of incredible places and we all have a relatively limited amount of time to explore them.
Training for climbing new routes
After finding a project that puts the butterflies of excitement into your belly, anyone planning on going on a climbing expedition needs to ensure that they have enough climbing experience, both physical and mental, to be able to manage unexpected incidents. So the stronger you are and the more solid your trad skills are, the more options you will have once you are out there having your adventure. But being as strong and as competent as possible does not mean you need to be a superwoman (or a man). For our forthcoming Sinai Trip we hope that the temptation of unclimbed routes and unexplored rock will be a good motivator for you to train just a little harder to reach the goals in climbing that you’re working for.
Researching expedition areas
If you are organising your own expedition, this part takes a lot of time and consideration. You will need to find as much information in as much detail as possible about all aspects of the geography, climbing and culture. Some things you might research:
Seasons & weather patterns
- Access to medical and rescue facilities
- Style of climbing
- Rock type
- Political background
Anyone preparing for a trip on an organised expedition is paying for this to be done for them, so you can concentrate on the fun research, for example finding out about the history, geography and culture of the place you are going to, leaving the logistics and organisation to others.
Health Considerations, including Vaccinations
Vaccinations are critical. Your trip could be cut very short very quickly if you become ill due to failing to be vaccinated. You should start looking into which vaccinations you might need at least 3 months before your departure date. Some vaccinations require a monthly shot over 3 months, so if you leave it later you may be unprotected.
Be sure to look into the different travel insurance options as there can often be surprising limitations when it comes to rock climbing, as well as to the search & rescue covers, which obviously are important ones to include when going on exploratory rock climbing expeditions to remote areas.
The BMC provides travel insurance specifically for climbers. Whilst this may be more expensive than standard travel insurance there are particular additional benefits that you should compare to check you have the right cover for you.
On an organized expedition you will be provided with a detailed kit list to make sure you pack everything you will need. Besides the necessary climbing kit and travel gear, we would recommend you to consider taking extra batteries and memory cards for your camera (personal experience…) or ensuring you have other ways of recording the trip. After all your hard work you probably won’t want to forget the details of all those incredible unique and powerful events. Your camera helps you to record everything you achieve. As we all know, climbing kit is pricey and unfortunately travel insurances do not normally cover for all of your belongings sufficiently. This is something you should check before departure.
We recommend that you do not take with you anything that:
- You would be upset to break
- You would be distraught to lose on the top of a mountain
- You would be disappointed to see get shredded on virgin rock
Obviously fancy new climbing kit is the exception as surely you have bought it to be able to use it for exciting adventures such as a pioneering climbing expedition.
Possibly the most important things to take with you are as much common sense as you can muster, a thirst for adventure and a curiosity and open-mindedness about new places. You’ll have all sorts of new experiences and meet many new people on expedition. It’s part of the excitement. We can promise you that anyone embarking on such a journey of discovery will return home with enough stories to last, if not a lifetime, then at least till the next dose of expedition.
Thank you to Maiju & Dave Lucas for writing this article
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