Most Inspirational Moment
Seeing a petite lady in our group turn up at 5am for the climb, after the previous day spent recuperating in bed dealing with an unexpected illness… and then leaving me in her dust!
Thoughts on Group Leader
Youssef was a star. Though young, he had a calm about him that inspired confidence – you always felt looked after, and every contingency prepared for. Once he realised my mischievous sense of humour he also displayed a deft ability for dead-pan wind-ups. He also displayed supreme patience – which sadly was needed more times than should have been the case due to one member of the group who turned up woefully out of shape and IMO should never have been on the trip.
Advice for Potential Travellers
The Exodus category for this trip is ‘Challenging’. I would not disagree with that. I’m early 50s, a little too fond of real ale, and only an occasional hiker (partly due to problems with mechanics of one foot, but I won’t bore you on that…). I booked this trip with 2 months to go, and started to do some prep – each weekend going on hike for couple of hours, maybe 6-8 miles over rocky ground.
I also started some cardio (jogging to the pub) and weights (deadlift) – but of course it’s impossible to prep for a 4000m mountain in the UK – my main motivation being “I don’t want to be that person holding everyone up at the back”. In the end I did ok, almost always being in the middle of ‘the pack’, only close to the summit starting to find breathing difficult. In comparison: one person turned up with no prep, but he’d been there before, works as a farmer, and got the nickname ‘Terminator’ – he took it all in his stride. Another turned up hugely overweight, and poorly conditioned… every day he held us up again and again... until Youssef was resourceful enough to allocate the cook (!) as his personal baby-sitter! In conclusion: be realistic with yourself about your fitness levels. Don’t be that person, that as one of our members wittily said: “let himself down, let the group down, and let the mountain down”!
I didn’t take poles – they seemed really useful, as opposed to me skipping from one scree boulder to another. Similarly fluid bladders with those tubes you can just sip from as needed. Youssef’s mother makes chocolate cakes from heaven – she should be on MasterChef. There are lots of cats on the trail… make friends with them and they will help you.