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Competition 2019 - Diary of a Winner - Week 1
1 July 2019.
"Wow! I was minding my own business at home when my wife said that “Jane from Mont Blanc Treks or something like that is on the phone”. Thinking it was going to be some sort of hard sell on a hiking holiday, I answered the phone curtly: “yes?”
Jane from Mont Blanc Treks reminded me I’d entered a competition to win a Haute Route trip... I vaguely recalled entering - I vaguely recalled thinking, “I won’t win, but what the Hell”
Apparently, I’d won! There is such a thing as a free lunch; well, no free lunches, but breakfasts and dinners and accommodation…and bag transfers…and a guide! All I’d need to do is to get myself to Chamonix and from Zermatt. Wow!
I was shocked and not a little concerned that I’d be fit enough (I do hike quite a bit and I am going to be hiking over the Pyrenees (north to south) the last week in July, but even so, I know the Haute Route encompasses some ‘big’ days). And I needed to start thinking about flights!! Time for a coffee!
I also needed to tell my wife who, thankfully, is very understanding about me disappearing for periods of time (I had a full career in the Royal Air Force, so she got used to me going away for extended periods.)"
"I think I’m over the shock – to a degree. More information has arrived from Mont Blanc Treks so I have figured I’d not been the victim of a very elaborate scam and, armed with the planned itinerary and great help and advice from Jude, I jumped in and booked my flights and my trains to/from the airport in the UK.
For my Pyrenees trip, I’m going/returning by train as it’s more ecologically friendly, but for the Haute Route I can’t really afford the additional time, so I’m going by ‘plane to/from Geneva (train from Zermatt to Chamonix is very do’able, apparently).
I also started thinking about where I was going to hike with the dog this week as I realise I need to keep my ‘hill fitness’ up…and, ideally improve it! I live in south Cumbria (at the southern end of the Lake District), so I’ve no excuse for not getting out regularly!
As it all now seemed completely legitimate, I posted a note on Facebook to the effect that I had won a trip to do the Haute Route. Such are my trust issues that I didn’t dare do so until I was SURE this was not a scam…or a mistake! So, my friends and family know and there’s no going back. I got several “you lucky so-and –so” type answers which is very true of course and many people seem quite envious. No one has questioned my ability to complete it, thankfully! Most are looking forward to seeing the photos."
"I got out for a decent hike with my Sprocker, Chester (a mad keen hiker…well, a mad keen Springer/Cocker cross), walking 12 miles and just over 1000m of climb/descent around some eastern fells above Longsleddale.
Apart from my aches and pains (I’m almost 59), everything is fine and we had a good hike. It was humid to start which might prove to be good practice; I’ve been watching the weather on the continent with alarm – I don’t want rain, but I could really do without a heatwave.
I am feeling the pressure slightly to get everything lined up. Between my return from the Pyrenees trek and setting off for Chamonix, I have just one week, so I feel the need to make sure I’m completely ready (as much as possible) before I head off in July (two weeks away). On the plus side, the Pyrenees trip will be a good rehearsal for the Haute Route. Of course, if I struggle over the Pyrenees, I’m in BIG trouble!"
"I’ve come completely to terms with the fact that I’m going to be doing the Haute Route!
Mont Blanc Treks have been hugely helpful (especially Jude and Jane) and my travel arrangements are pretty much sorted. I even have a free transfer courtesy of their transfer partners Mountain Dropoffs.
I thought I’d get a guide book, so ordered the Knife Edge guide which arrived today. It looks great: lots of pictures and 1:25000 and 1:50,000 maps. I realise that my trip will be guided, but I do kind of like to know where I am and where I’m going. I need to settle down and have a good read. Mont Blanc Treks use Ciccerone guides so I will have plenty of useful information"