- First, share this post with your network
- Second, if you live close to Ottawa, come to our launch on October 25th at the Senate Tavern (Bank Street) – Tony Perdomo, from Exodus Travels will be there to talk about the trip and all the details.
- call Monique Perras, our travel agent at Club Aventure – 613-789-8000
- email me (email@example.com) and I can answer any question someone might have about the trip.
Somewhere out there is a trekker who will help us get to a climbing group of 20 people and who will push us over the $100,000 mark. Maybe your job is to pass this note on to them!
It is really hard to figure out what to write about after 2 weeks in the mountains. There are so many impressions, ideas and feelings that come with accomplishing a really difficult trek. I really thought I would have so much to say after completing the Tour de Mont Blanc, but inspiration is coming slowly.
The Tour De Mont Blanc deserves to be written about. It is a dramatic, difficult trek that tests one’s endurance at every step. The Col de Tricot 2120m, summitted by our group on climbing day 9 was really one of the great challenges of the Tour.
The Suunto map at the beginning of this post really does not do justice to the day. But it gives you some idea of the scope of the day.
We started up the Col and it really looked similar to other climbs we had done over the past two weeks. However, it turned into a steady, long grind up a 500 m ascent in 30C heat directly into the sun.
I have learned that it is a really good idea not to look up too much on these climbs. the summit never seems to get any closer. You have to go into yourself a little bit and make the mountain the path right in front of you. It has to be one small, steady step after another, one switchback, then another all the way up.
The climb probably took us an hour and a half, but you wouldn’t be able to tell this from the photo I have included here. This is the maddening thing about photography on the mountain, it is really hard to convey the perspective, the steepness of the ascent.
The group strung out over the mountain. We all struggled in the intense heat. John, our wonderful guide encouraged us up the col – small steps, breathe deep. He set the pace, slow and steady – the same every day. John told us that it had taken him at least seven years to work out this pace. Often it was like meditation in the mountains, this day it was the only pace that would get us to the top.
Even so, John ended up carrying two extra packs for trekkers who were suffering from the heat and the push to the top of the col.
We reached the top of the col and the group spread out exhausted. We took off our boots and socks and lay in the sun. It was still hot, but there was always a beautiful mountain breeze that was our reward after a difficult climb.
Just before leaving the col, I took some footage that I have included here. I don’t know if this shows any better the difficulty of the trek, but it is the best that I have.
Funny, as I listen to this I hear myself saying that we have an easy descent coming up. I don’t think there were any easy descents on the TMB. What we did have was a long steep descent followed by a second climb up another col then for some of us a crazy 700m running descent in the gathering thunder back down to Chamonix to catch a bus to our campsite.
As the joints and muscles heal back here in Canada, I can say that this was easily one of the most challenging treks I have ever taken part in – right up there with Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Ausangate Range in Peru. What continues to bring all this together is the wonderful camaraderie of our Climb for Kids group and the knowledge that we are doing all this ultimately to raise money to help transform lives back home.
Oh yes, there is plenty more to write about the TMB, but just like our recovery, I need to be patient and let the process play out. This was a spectacular trek with great people all for a wonderful cause. It deserves the time needed for reflection.
We all achieved something important and special, something worth celebrating, something that teaches each of us something. There is lots more that needs to be written. Lots more to learn.
We are leaving in 20 days.
For seven months our group of trekkers have been training, fundraising and learning together to get ready for an epic journey around Mont Blanc. Three countries, 170 km. With only 20 days before we leave my attention is turning towards the mental preparation necessary to do this trek well.
Just like last year in Peru, everything changes when you make it to the mountain. All the planning and preparation comes down to the 14 days we are in the mountains. The word that resonates with me right now is preparation. Educators all know about how to prep, it is what makes all the difference for a successful school year. Getting ready for the Tour de Mont Blanc is like one long prep. We certainly have had the time, now we are moving to the front of the room.
The prep takes place on several levels but I am not going to catalogue it here. That is not interesting at all. But there are elements that are good to write about.
First, training the body is an essential part of the voyage and it is really liberating.
Focussing on your body and seeing it as your vehicle for success is not something we normally do. We usually take our bodies and our physical health for granted. Cars take us to work and even if we work out we seldom see ourselves as the vehicle. I really like the Chase Mountains series of Youtube videos because he is all about prepping for the climb.
The video above is really helpful as he breaks down the type of physical preparation you need to do to be successful on the mountain. Take a look at this video – it is pretty short. The one big thing, the one thing that takes a really long time is mobility – up to 3-6 months! My mobility is terrible, but I have been working at it for months. Recently (too late for sure) I have started doing more yoga. My 61-year old body simply isn’t as mobile as it used to be.
One other person who I follow who really speaks to preparation is Elia Saikaly. I have followed him for years and he has spoken to students in three schools I have worked in. He has lots to say to kids, especially those who struggle to fit in. As a young person, Elia lived on the streets, got kicked out of several schools and rebelled against all authority. His story of turning things around is compelling.
The Unclimbed Series featuring Elia and fellow climber Gabriel Filippi is really interesting. In episode 3, Elia focusses on preparation. This is really worth watching if you plan to take on any really challenging task. You don’t have to be planning for the summit of an 8000m mountain. Your challenge is unique to yourself. The preparation, however, has to be done. It is partly physical, mental and I would say spiritual as well.
It is a comfort to be focussing on the physical. The trip planning and the fundraising are just about done. We are on track to raise $35,000 for Christie Lake Kids and with last year’s campaign, we have raised over $60,000 for inner city kids in Ottawa. One program – STEM education for girls actually started because of the fundraising we are doing.
Preparation allows for transformation. Physical prepping transforms your body and mind. Good program prepping is transforming the lives of low-income kids in Ottawa.
Transformative Recreation® is our unique way to engage kids in having fun, but also a powerful way to help them develop the values & skills that will help them to change the way they look at themselves, their relationships & the world around them.
Good preparation allows you to tell important stories – Elia has done this for years. The Climb for Albinism is a wonderful example of how this can all come together to produce something important and good.
These trips need careful prepping. Preparation can lead to something important. What is true for the classroom is equally true for adventures that raise awareness and support Transformative Recreation.
There is lots of video material to look at in this post. It all helps to explain why we prepare. Here is one more, a quick summary of what we have done this year to get ready for Climb for Kids II.
Soon we will have an inReach map up on the Christie Lake Kids website so you can follow us in the trek around Mont Blanc. Hope you follow us. Hope you contribute.
When we return, we still start to prep for Year III. Life is all about good prep.
Who would true valour see, Let him come hither
One here will constant be, Come wind, come weather.
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent His first avowed intent,
To be a pilgrim
Pilgrim – person who journeys to a sacred place; a traveller or wanderer.
Lightfoot Companion to the Via Francigena
Retirement is a funny thing. After decades of defining oneself by an occupation, the time comes where your definition needs to come from somewhere else. It is a different journey with fewer signposts.
After two and a half years, I think I am putting some of the pieces together. While there is work from time to time, retirement for me is becoming defined by the sojourn. This was not the plan, but it seems to resonate.
Two years ago I climbed to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and entered the world of thin air and extreme trekking. Later, I travelled the old military roads of the Scottish Highlands with my daughter Colleen. The following year, on our first Climb for Kids trek, we climbed the sacred ground around Ausangate in Peru.
My son Liam and I followed this up by walking the Pathway of the Gods in Amalfi. We also traced ancient Roman ruins at Pompeii and Rome. Very soon, our second Climb for Kids group will be trekking 170 km around Mont Blanc.
Now I am starting to plan for my longest journey, part of the Via Francigena next October. We are also actively planning for Year III of Climb for Kids. The next trek will be an epic climb, but we won’t announce this one until the end of the summer.
I think what is happening here is that in my retirement I am becoming a pilgrim. There is an ‘avowed intent’ that is linking all of these walks. I think the most important intent is to connect or reconnect with people. On my treks in Scotland and Italy, I had the wonderful privilege of travelling first with my daughter Colleen then with my son Liam.
There is a true beauty in reconnecting with your adult children. We all change as we grow older and we all need to take the time to make sure our relationships stay vital and fresh. You can do this really well by walking and talking or sometimes just travelling in silence.
Climb for Kids is a wonderful experience for all sorts of reasons. I wrote about Year II last week and you can see that post here – Communities Move Mountains. This trek is about connecting too. Most importantly I get to travel and plan with my wonderful partner Heather Swail. We did our first high-altitude trek together last year in Peru and we experienced the beauty of the mountain together. After so many years together, it is still possible to learn things about your partner, especially when you are trekking under conditions of high physical stress.
We have a great group this year and we will learn a great deal about each other as we travel around the highest mountain in Europe. Mountains take you to another place. They help you to hold others who travel with you in higher regard. They help you to gain a greater respect for yourself and for what you are able to do. The mountains truly make you a pilgrim.
There is a really good story that John Muir told about trekking. He never used the word hike and neither do I. He liked the word saunter because of its connection to an ancient practice.
Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.
So this is my saunter. It is defining much of what I do these days, although until now I didn’t know if I had put this together. I still have to start writing about the Via Francigena and I will either soon or after the TMB. There is so much to learn and a world to saunter in. Each journey takes me to another holy land and I guess that makes me a pilgrim.
Incredible Friday night CLK Climb for Kids Fundraiser with fantastic music by The Teachers and the Moneyman, so many friends and supporters, terrific silent auction with a huge, surprise donation, lots of competition over beautiful homemade items, FATBOYS gift certificate and keg won by Wendy, motivational send-off by Canadian Olympic athlete Segun Makinde and NOW, over $28,000.00 raised for CLK kids. And we are not done!
Communities move mountains!
Heather Swail Climb for Kids
We are now 44 days away from our second group trek. This time we are walking around the highest mountain in Europe – Mont Blanc. We will walk over 170 km and camp along the way. Our trek is rated as a level 4 or moderate/challenging by our trip coordinators Exodus Travels.
You are moderately fit and have an interest in remote or challenging environments. Some previous experience is required for activity based trips.
These ratings are a really good way to measure the amount of difficulty involved in a trek. By comparison, Mt. Kilimanjaro is a 6 and the ascent of Mont Blanc is considered an 8.
The bulk of our fundraising is now over except for a really great wine auction that goes until June 15.
By the way – we are happy to sell you a ticket if you want to help support us!
Our fundraising goal for this year is $30,000. Right now we are at $28,000 so I think we are going to make it. This means we will have raised over $60,000 for Christie Lake Kids programs in the past two years. And as Heather put it, we are not done!
This is the humbling power of community. When you come up with a good idea that supports innovative recreation programming for kids people gather around you.
Our last fundraiser at Fatboys here in the Byward Market brought together all sorts of wonderful people united by the desire to support something really important. The opening page of the Christie Lake webpage symbolizes what they do.
I am really struck by the approach they take with kids. They call it Transformative Recreation and what they really want to do is change the destiny for kids living below the poverty line here in Ottawa.
Transformative Recreation® (T-REC®) is our program model, guiding all of our efforts as we encourage our children and youth to build resiliency and realize success on their own terms. T-REC® is founded on a mixture of best practices in the field of social recreation, as well as the lessons of success derived from over 95 years of serving the Ottawa community. Our programs focus on developing physical, social and character skills, with the intent of developing four key outcomes:
Positive Peer & Adult Relationships
Positive Future Outlook
The community that is coming together to support this work is truly wonderful. This includes our whole family who comes out to all the events, designs our Climb for Kids logos, contributes silent auction items and even acts as the coat check staff when needed. Community includes my oldest friend Bob Kennedy, whose band Teachers and the Moneyman played at our last event.
Teachers and the Moneyman
It includes lots of teachers from Heather’s School Vincent Massey and teachers from my last two schools, St. Greg’s and St. Anthony. It includes 24 businesses and two great bands who have supported and sponsored us throughout the year. It includes former trekkers who climbed with us last year in Peru.
Apart from the money we are raising for kids, I think the community-building is the most significant part of this experience. People are contributing their expertise and resources to help put us back on the mountain and as the project grows, the community widens.
Next week the group will gather again to hear from another amazing trekker Mike Baine who has done the Tour de Mont Blanc and has also trekked in Peru and to Everest Base Camp. He will talk to us about this trek and we will talk to the trekkers about how to prepare for the TMB. Meanwhile, we will continue to look at the figures to see when we break through the $30,000 barrier.
At the same time, we are actively working on preparations for Year III of Climb for Kids. We won’t announce this trip until Year II is over, but the planning is a continuous process that really only slackens when we are on the mountain.
The community grows daily. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the largest group of supporters, the people who are helping us surpass $30,000 – all our donors. I know that I have at least 30 people who have contributed to my fundraising total. I am around $250 short of my personal goal of $2500 and I know that I am going to make it. Each trekker has a similar group supporting their efforts.
Community Moves Mountains, that is for sure. This is an experience that enriches the lives of everyone who gets involved. It is really great to spend lots of time on a project that brings life and hope to so many people. Thank-you to all the wonderful supporters out there and welcome to all those who will continue to join us in future days!
Climb for Kids group members at our last fundraiser
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 a topic I am learning about.
A year and a half ago I retired from a very active job as an elementary school principal. It was a good decision and I don’t regret taking it.
For the first time in 31 years, I am learning and experiencing lots of new things. I have trekked to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro through the Western Highlands of Scotland and most recently the Ausangate Range in Peru.
I am much fitter than I was when I had a regular job. Before I was just too busy to keep in good shape and I am a bit shocked how little real exercise I got. My moods were really affected by my work and it took way too long to return to a calm state after the strains of a long school year.
My pace is not so crazy anymore. Apart from my training, I write a lot more, I read and listen more too. I listen especially to lots of podcasts on VoicEd Radio and I really enjoy the work I am doing to help Stephen Hurley and this wonderful venture into the world of internet radio.
There is another side to this which I find interesting. I saw someone last week that I used to work with when I was a principal. She asked what I was doing these days and before I could answer, she made the reply.
I didn’t really bother to correct her, there didn’t seem to be much of a point. When you don’t have a regular job people sometimes don’t know what to do with you.
This is an interesting part of retirement, or it might just be the result of getting older. It is easier when you are not defined by your job to be discounted by others. It is easier to disappear.
It is interesting how quiet things can get. I volunteered to act as a supply principal for my school board when I retired – silence. I have volunteered and applied for other jobs with the same result.
A school in our neighbourhood doesn’t have a regular principal or VP, but because I am from a different school board I can’t even offer my services. I used to do lots of work for the local faculty of education here in our city – that work dried up as soon as I was no longer an active principal.
Other things just don’t make much sense. I visit my mother in the hospital almost daily, but my brother won’t answer my notes to him on how she is doing. It’s almost as if this work is unnecessary and irrelevant. Friends, many of them retired as well, don’t reach out. Opportunities seem to dry up. It is a little like you begin to disappear.
This could go on for a while, as long as I define myself by who I was. At 60, I doubt that I will ever be actively employed again. This is a world that is dominated everywhere by youth – there is still little value placed on the older ones in our society.
To counter this, I need to find my new value. I need to look for the positive opportunity whenever it comes up. I don’t think conventional employers like school boards and universities will change. In some ways that is too bad because I think I have a great deal to offer – especially when a school has no administrators!
Instead, I need to find meaning and value in my own projects or in projects where the door is still open. VoicEd Radio is terrific that way and the creative work within this growing community is wonderful.
The work we are doing with Christie Lake Climb for Kids is a challenge and has the potential to channel more financial support to children who really need a positive change in their lives. This project was started last year when we took our first group of trekkers into the Peruvian Andes up to 5200m. The group trained and fundraised for a year and we made almost $28,000 for Christie Lake Kids programming.
So the future will be defined by the projects that work and the people who are open to what I can still offer. This is a new path.
I am no longer defined by a job I did for 31 years and how I define myself now has to be based on other factors, many that were not all that important when I was working full time. This is a work in progress, one that I don’t often read about but one that is probably worthy of further discussion.
It is interesting with more and more people retiring all the time that this doesn’t seem to be a topic that gets much attention. Do we have any sense of the social capital out there that still has great value?
Maybe this should change. Maybe we should talk more about this.
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!
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.