This is what the Tour de Mont Blanc looks like – want to join us?
a small postscript, this post came out yesterday and the first donation – anonymous – for $100 came in today – a great start!
This is what the Tour de Mont Blanc looks like – want to join us?
a small postscript, this post came out yesterday and the first donation – anonymous – for $100 came in today – a great start!
Thanks to all of you who were able to attend our launch last Friday. We had a great turnout and now we need to fill the final 7 spots to make sure we have a group for 2019. Pretty exciting to see so many people out to celebrate 2018 and hopefully, take part in this year’s trek.
We have 7 trekkers and we need 7 more by mid-November to offer a trip for next July (departure July 12). You may be thinking of going or you may know someone who would be great on this trek. There are always lots of reasons for putting off adventure, but there is only one good reason to go – try something really different that changes you and the lives of children!
I know that the people who went with us last year would all agree with this. Climbing in Peru was great, climbing with a wonderful, committed group of people was even better.
So this week I am making the big push to fill up our group. I am sending emails, tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram messages – anything I can think of to get people motivated to move way outside their comfort zone.
What certainly works better than social media is word of mouth. The people who came with us last year were all linked to others in the group. If you are reading this maybe you are that link – bring a friend, a colleague or partner! Think what you can learn and experience together!
If you are planning on waiting until next time you may be too late – life doesn’t wait and neither should you.
To help you make up your mind we do have some resources for you.
Climb for Kids is a great group experience – we combine adventure with a unique opportunity to help kids – please consider joining us!!
Booking form: https://bit.ly/2Q06H3u
A very cool Tour de Mont Blue Interactive Map: http://u.osmfr.org/m/206457/
Our video promotion!
I get most of my good education content from VoicEd Radio. There’s a good reason for this. I no longer work in a school, and even if I did, there would be no way to gather up the diversity of opinion that I find on the VoicEd Radio podcasts. Working within a school board certainly does not open you up to a variety of ways of looking at issues.
This week I listened to one of the banner shows on VoicEd Radio – ONedMentors. They were grappling with the question of how you define mentorship. This is not something I think about these days. I am a retired educator, what would I have to do with mentorship?
An interesting thing happens when you retire. Your opinion has less value. I can think of many people and organizations that valued what I had to say when I was a principal. When you leave that job, many leave you.
What I have failed to consider is that retirement can turn you into a mentee. I am not offering my opinions and advice very much these days, but I need new information, I need to learn once again from others.
Retirement allows you to try new experiences and start the learning journey all over again. If you let yourself, you can take new risks and you can really open yourself up to learn from others.
Now I am interested in mentors to help me learn about digital radio and podcasting, trekking and climbing, and photography! These are all new passions that I simply didn’t have time for when I was working in a school.
Getting back to the original question – what is mentorship? I think the definition is simple – mentorship is all about connecting to life-long learning – we naturally seek out mentors as we move into new areas that we are not comfortable in – so we seek ideas and help.
When you put yourself in risky situations, and by that I mean new learning you are forced to grow and seek out others who can help you out. Along with the great podcast, a few of us followed along on Twitter.
New can be scary – new means taking a risk and it is OK to acknowledge that this is a challenge and can sometimes be scary. Try doing something really new and really scary – once you do that you will seek mentors.
I have a whole new group of mentors now. I am learning about digital broadcasting, I am following a tough physical training program for the first time in my life. I am committed to taking on high-altitude climbs and I really need to get better at documenting these trips.
The people who are helping me probably do not see themselves as mentors, but they are. They are leading me in new ways and I am very grateful to them.
So, the risks and discomfort are worth it. It is Ok to say you don’t know, even at 60. So, take a risk, get a mentor and learn something new – it is never too late!
I am reading about trails. Robert Moor has written a magical book called On Trails An Exploration
This is an interesting book – trails are different from paths, ‘trails tend to form in reverse, messily, from the passage of dirty feet.’ (page 68 On Trails) It has got me thinking.
Trails are where we find something magical. The trail through giant ancient plants on Kilimanjaro. The feral goat who looks down on you on the West Highland Way, the ghostly llama as darkness gathers.
Trails also lead to friends, new and old, sometimes family and loved ones too.
Trails draw you into a new life and once you walk the trail you are really part of the trail.
You don’t go once, you go again.
Because of those who walked the trails before I now am hooked. I dream about old trails – can I do them better, can I experience more, can I test myself in some other fashion. The trail takes on dreams and the dreams make me want to push on do more, learn more, experience more.
The pathways are not just pathways. When I walk, I need to do it for another reason too. There are two reasons that I have figured out so far. To help in some way children in poverty and to connect to my family.
For me, working for children is a matter of social justice. I walk, raise money and then support programs that actually can break the cycle of poverty. That is why I can only walk for Christie Lake Kids – the cycle can be broken, but it takes innovation and a huge community effort. I want to be part of that effort.
Second – connecting to my family is what I want to do. I am 60 years old. I don’t have to worry about making an impact or being successful in my job. I am happily beyond that. But I do need to reach out to my partner and my children in important ways. So, I need to take the path with them.
Last year I walked with my daughter. This summer I trekked with my partner. In a few weeks, I will hike with my son.
If I am going to do something like this it has to be for kids, social justice or family.
There are, I hope many more trails and many more wonderful people to meet as we raise money and awareness. In between treks for Christie Lake Kids, I will walk with my family – all of them.
This is where the trail will lead.
Year I is done. We are back from the Ausangate Range after an epic trek through the Peruvian Andes. We raised more than $28,000 and most of our group are now back to their regular routines as they process the impact of a truly memorable experience.
It is always interesting to decide when it is time to move on from one experience to start something new. For me, this is the time. This week, we signed off on Year II of Climb for Kids and we are back into the cycle of recruiting trekkers, social media announcements, training and a new launch.
While I don’t want to let go of this first trek through those beautiful mountains, it is time to turn to a new destination. Now we are preparing for Year II and the Tour de Mont Blanc.
The Tour de Mont Blanc will be a different type of trek, which is a great reason for doing this. A really different challenge. The trek is in the moderate to high altitude zone, but not the very high altitude zone (4500m-5000m) we experienced during the Ausangate climb. We will be walking over 170 km around the Mont Blanc Massif travelling through three countries and camping all the way. I think this makes for a great second adventure for Christie Lake Climb for Kids. As one article puts it, “More of a shrine to the Alps than a simple walk in the mountains, the TMB is the definition of a Bucket List Hike.”
So, the training starts again. We will probably do more long-distance walking this time to get ready for the long days. This is one of the many attractions to taking on a new adventure every year. We are in a constant cycle of training. Every day we have to consider what we can do to prepare for the next challenge.
Of equal importance is the money we will continue to raise for Christie Lake Kids. Christie Lake is all about transforming the lives of lower-income kids throughout the year. We wouldn’t be doing this unless we could make a contribution and a difference in the lives of children. For this reason, most of the climbers who signed on last year were either educators or connected in some way to programming for children.
This is also all about building a community. Last year, I had 29 supporters who helped me raise $2100.00. Each climber can talk about similar numbers. Together, we raised over $28,000 and put on two great fundraising socials with lots of silent auction and corporate sponsors. This community will grow this year. We will attract new sponsors and new climbers. The positive energy will expand this great social venture!
This is what makes Climb for Kids such a great opportunity for growth. We transform ourselves by training, fundraising and climbing. We help transform the lives of children by rallying people to give to a really important cause.
So now we need 14 people to sign up for a great adventure. The new group will have some great experiences together. We will work with each other for a year and we will challenge ourselves in ways that are difficult to imagine.
Adventure and committing to helping others transforms. Helping others gives us an important new focus. If you want to do something truly wonderful this year, join us!
Here is what you need to know:
The Booking Form can be downloaded here
The full itinerary is here
TRIP COST: $3525.00CAD
DEPOST DUE AMOUNT UPON BOOKING: $500CAD
This does not include insurance (mandatory) or flight.
It is really great when a project comes together.
A year ago we came up with the idea for Climb for Kids. The idea was to raise money for a program in Ottawa that is transforming the lives of low-income children throughout the year through recreation and leadership programs – Christie Lake Kids.
A venture like this works really well when you have lots of great community partners. First, we based our model on the wonderful initiative of Shawn Dawson’s – Dream Mountains. For eight years, Shawn led trekking trips to Africa, Nepal and Peru and in the process raised over $1 million for local charities. I had the wonderful privilege to take part in one of these climbs to Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2017. This was truly a transformative event that showed me how you can link adventure up with support for community agencies.
These projects are all about partnership and mutual support. Shawn continues to help us by offering his restaurant Fat Boys as a location for our group fundraisers. He has also helped us with training and is definitely part of our support community.
We also work with a group of travel agencies and businesses including Merit Travel and Exodus Travels along with Great Escape Outfitters and Sail. Merit was our go to travel support who were with us all the way, especially when the group ran into some significant troubles getting to airports in Peru. GEO provided jackets for the group and Sail gave the group discounts on equipment for the trip. Investors Group acted as a corporate sponsor who really helped us with some of our equipment costs.
We also had the wonderful assistance of a group trainer – Shaun Kehoe. Shaun started working with some of the group in February and we continued training with him right up until the beginning of August. His work with us certainly made us stronger for a very tough trek.
On a different level, there were countless sponsors and individual contributors who helped our group raise over $25,000 for CLK. This was $10,000 more than we expected in the first year of this project. A huge success for the first year of Climb for Kids!
The best social enterprises are those with broad community support. Much of our success depends on the social capital we have raised over the past year. Our group of 17 trekkers were supported by hundreds of other people and businesses. We were united in the belief that it is really important to support transformative recreation for low-income kids in Ottawa. This is what binds us all together.
The real success for Climb for Kids lies in developing a legacy of fundraising. Our first year was a great success so now we need to begin work on year 2. We have a trip planned out, again with the assistance of Merit and Exodus. We will announce the new trip soon and we will start looking for recruits for the second venture to take place in July 2019.
We want to continue to link adventure, fundraising and community into a dynamic social enterprise. As I have written, this is all about people. Our 17 trekkers were so well supported throughout the past year. We will continue developing with wonderful community into year 2. Ultimately, we are supporting kids and that is what makes this all so worthwhile.
We will grow our support, recruit new climbers and sponsors and we will trek again in less than a year. We are empowered by a terrific community.
Now is the time to recognize and thank this wonderful community. We are so grateful and we have gained so much and most importantly, we did all this together!
Sometimes it is hard to sort out what to write after taking part in a monumental challenge. That is what the 5-day Ausangate trek was – a truly inspiring, challenging adventure that tested the physical and emotional limits of the 17 trekkers who took part in the journey.
The Ausangate region is cold in the Peruvian winter. We stayed at beautiful lodges where the temperatures plummeted when the sun went down. One lodge was at 4300m, the other three were above 4750m. We lived above 4700m for four days – that is higher than the summit camp for Mt. Kilimanjaro. We reached an altitude of 5150m – 200m short of Everest Base Camp.
So, there is lots to write about, a huge amount to absorb.
What comes to mind first is the people. Seventeen Canadians made the choice to trek for five days in this remote part of the Andes. Apart from our guides, cooks and shepherds, we seldom saw anyone else on the route. The high altitude, cold and tricky trekking conditions took a toll on everyone. Living continually at extreme high altitude was a new challenge for all of us.
Then there were our guides, Holgar, Mathias and Eric. These three guided us every day and in one case, into the night. They taught us about the mountains and told us stories about the apu, the mountain gods.
The cooks and cleaners travelled with us. The shepherds guided 20 llamas and horses with all our gear over the same steep mountain passes that we trekked. They reached our campsites well before us and set up the lodges for meals and restorative nights.
It is all about the people and this is where the true story lies. There were countless acts of generosity and kindness over the 5 days. You can’t trek through these mountains unless everyone works together and supports one another.
One incident, captured on video. One the longest day – 10 hours of trekking all above 4800m, we climbed the last hill to get a view of the Rainbow Mountain. It was later in the day and we had already summited one pass at 5000m. People were cold and tired.
The last hill was very steep and it fell off dramatically on all sides. Eric, one of our guides took the climbing poles of one of the trekkers and pulled her up the last hill. Several others were cold, tired out and gasping for air in the thin atmosphere.
We put one trekker ahead of the others and instructed the others to follow the same slow step pattern. The climbers ascended the hill in unison.
Take a look at the opening video for this piece. If you look closely, you can see the climbers following each other. You can see our guide Eric leading us up the hill. You can hear the laboured breathing and the wind whipping by.
This is people assuming a challenge and succeeding. This is what it looks like to trek in the Ausangate.
Our first day of acclimatization started yesterday. We made it to 3800m which is really good for the first full day in the Andes. I think the more important acclimatization, however, was our introduction to the deep spirituality of the mountains and the lands of the Inca.
Really, when you are traveling to a great mountain I think it is really important to be introduced to the story and the spirituality of the mountain before you ascend. This is what we are in the process of doing now. We visited Saqsaywaman, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay – all spiritual centers for the Inca overlooking Cusco which is known as the navel of the Incan empire that once stretched from Columbia down to the tip of Argentina. Cusco was the heart of the Incan world.
looking into Cusco from Tambomachy
Off in the distance, we could barely see Apu Ausangate the place we will be heading on Monday. The Inka religion uses the term Apu to refer to a mountain that has a spirit that is alive. The mountain is certainly sacred and is truly connected to the Incan world as a place of great significance as a giver of water from its glaciers. Farmers around Cusco still take a yearly pilgrimage to the mountain, barefoot to collect a piece from the glacier. They then return to sprinkle the water over their fields.
This is a really important way to travel. Learn about the significance of the place where your feet will tread before starting on that part of the journey. When you do this, the trek will have so much more significance. It will bring about meaning that we could not have imagined before the trek.
This is a good link to what we are doing. This is not just a holiday trek. We worked hard raising money for Christie Lake Kids before we left. Our actions in the months before the trip will have meaning to people we do not know back in Ottawa.
It seems appropriate then that we are learning about the Inca symbols, the spirituality of water, the apu and the mountain. Learning brings on respect and greater respect leads to powerful experiences.
Today we continue our acclimatization by traveling to the Sacred Valley and Pisaq. Another much more famous traveler, Ernesto Che Guevara traveled there in 1952. He wrote:
After trekking for two hours along a rough path we reached the peak of Pisac; also arriving there, though long before us, were the swords of the Spanish soldiers, destroying Pisac’s defenders, defenses, and even its temple.
The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey. Ernesto Che Guevara
Part of our learning is not only about the Incas but also the destruction of this great culture and civilization by the Spanish. All stories here come back to tales of the conquest. It is also the story of reawakening. It certainly was for Che Guevara as he traveled through Peru in 1952 and it is for us.
The trekking and the learning continues apace.
The Inka Cross or Chakana is a strong symbol of the old cultures of the Andes and is considered the most complete, holy, geometric design of the Inkas. This symbol is often found in old places and holy centers in the Andes in Peru and in Bolivia. The Chakana has had, and still has, a considerable meaning to the Inkas and it also represents many meanings in its design.
A: At the top to the left
B: At the top to the right
Hana Pacha – Heaven
The upper world, light sophisticated energy. The stars, divine creatures, and gods.
Kay Pacha –The earth
This world, light and heavy energy, here and now, Mother Earth. People’s lives.
Uqha Pacha –The Underworld
Heavier energy, but not Hell, may be lucky, beautiful things. Death.
C: At the bottom to the leftPeace
D: At the bottom to the right
The holy animals:
Condor/eagle: represents the upper world in the sky
Cougar: represents powerful land animals
Snake: represents the lower world
Wiracocha / God
Pachamama / Mother Earth
We have made it to the ancient Incan capital of Cusco! After 17 hours of traveling, we have arrived and are starting to acclimate to the high altitude here. We are at 3400 m and at this height, your body quickly starts to act in strange ways. A flight of stairs is a feat, repacking your bag is a challenge, walking up a beautiful street can leave you panting with a racing heart.
This is a beautiful place. Cusco is nestled in the Andes, the people are welcoming and the streets are bustling with energy and life. Our group is excited and ready to go and now after a good rest, is in great spirits and adjusting to the altitude challenge.
Acclimatization is an interesting process. The first day is a bit of a shock, there are a lot of breathless moments. Tomorrow will be better so we will have our first short hike of 3 kilometers in the morning. The key will be to walk slow, slower than you would ever walk on a downtown street in Ottawa. The next day will be even better, then we start trekking in the Andes at over 4300 m for five days. We can see the mountains now and we know this will be a great challenge.
While we still have wifi, I will continue to write. This is a very positive group and we are raising money for a great cause. The physical and mental work ahead is daunting, but I am sure that we are all up to it.
Experiment. Fail. Learn. Repeat.
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