At this altitude each breath is increasingly harder as I try to suck in as much oxygen as possible out of the thin air. My breath hangs visibly in the air around my head every time I exhale as the temperature hovers around -2 degrees Celsius on our ice climbing in the UK adventure.
The lack of oxygen is starting to affect my muscles. Or is it the fact that we have constantly been going vertical now for nearly 2 hours. My left leg uncontrollably shudders again from the exertion as I cling to the solid ice wall. My fingers lock in a death grip on the slippery handles of my ice axe, the points of which are sunk no more than 2 cm into the glistening ice.
Splinters of ice continue to rain down upon my helmet every time I work them loose to drive them home again and again and again.
My head rings with the advice of the guide; “keep your heals down to work the crampons into the ice”. But instead my big toes ache from banging around inside my boot as they scramble for grip on the tiniest ledges. My brain cannot comprehend how these tiny 1 inch spikes hold my weight.
The stiff and frozen rope disappears above my head to loop around a single tiny ring of metal which is supposed to hold me in place once I take the inevitable slip. The other end is knotted in a haphazard looking fashion to my climbing harness which is starting to chaff in the most uncomfortable places. My forearms feel like they have been dipped in burning oil from the tension and I can tell they will only support my weight for a few more minutes at best.
And then the final piece of advice from the guide slowly creeps its way back into my mind…
“One last thing, whatever you do, DON’T look down”
I cannot help it. That overwhelming urge to know how far I will fall to my untimely death consumes me. I risk a glance over my shoulder to the abyss below me…
“Oh hurry up Cole you are nearly there!”
Rudely awakened from reverie I realise I am only 10m off the ground and in the safety of the world’s largest indoor ice climbing facility located in the heart of the Highlands of Scotland and not clinging to the side of Mount Kilimanjaro. Damn this is hard.
Ice Climbing in the UK
We ventured up to Kinlochleven in Scotland for a short weekend of adventure and to try our hand for the very first time at a spot of ice climbing in the UK. Now I can count the number of times I have been indoor rock climbing on one hand and definitely do not consider myself to be an expert at all.
In addition, I have been blessed with my Dad’s sense of Acrophobia, more commonly known as being afraid of heights so ice climbing in the UK gave me cold sweats before we even donned our climbing gear.
However, whenever I am faced with putting myself outside my comfort zone it always helps that I am highly competitive. This competitive streak has helped me overcome a number of different trials and there was no way I was going to let my mate Simon get the better of me by getting higher than I could. With that in mind we signed up.
We were told to dress warmly before we arrived and I am glad we did as the indoor venue is literally a gigantic freezer with the ice scraping the roof at a height around 13m.
Now that might not seem very high to some people but for sufferers of acrophobia it is the equivalent of scaling Everest. We spent about 15 minutes at the beginning with the guide getting kitted up with crampons, ice axes and nut-squeezing harnesses before being let loose on the wall.
When I say let loose I really mean it.
5 minutes of instructions with a quick tutorial on how to belay each other (in other words putting your life in someone else’s hands) and how to most effectively use our crampons and ice axes was the basics we needed. The simple instruction of “don’t smack yourself in the face or anyone else in the face with the ice axe” were duly noted as we swung as we hacked our way up the beginner wall.
Chunks the size of my fist rained down on the spectators below. We were very glad we had the helmets while ice climbing in the UK.
With the guide watching dutifully over our shoulders and only 5 in our group we quickly progressed from the beginner wall to the much higher and harder wall where they had held the Scottish Championships the day before.
I really was not lying in my story above, it really was that hard.
For the best part of 15 minutes I had clawed my way to within 1m of the top when I physically could not go on any further. My legs trembled, whether from exertion or my fear of heights I am not sure, and my forearms and hands just seized up completely. It took the remainder of my strength just to prise the ice axes out of the ice wall and swing out into the open air behind me to be lowered to the floor.
Thankfully I managed to get higher than Adela.
Have you been Ice Climbing in the UK?
Explore Auckland’s Coasts With One Exquisite Walking Hike
There is a wonderful place found in the far southwest of the Pacific Ocean. It is a place called Auckland, and it is found in the amazing terrain of New Zealand. It is a place that commands the attention of over 1 million people who prefer to live and reside in this majestic city.
Did you know that Auckland claims the top spot in New Zealand with its wide range of people and the most concentrated number of people within a city in New Zealand?
But why do so many people come to Auckland, New Zealand, and live there? What do they appreciate the most?
The truth is that the answer may vary, and it may differ from person to person, but it is hard to deny that nature is not a crucial part of their decision making. The beautiful city has fantastic places that offer great adventure and recreational activity.
You can take advantage of the diverse coasts, hidden coves, and more of the northern area in the North Island. It is known for its various boats, and some believe that it has more ships than any other city in the entire world.
It is a city that resides between two large fantastic natural harbors.
Let us find out more about how you can explore this majestic city with one fantastic walking hike.
For those who want to stay near to Auckland’s city and travel well, it is necessary to start your journey with the Auckland Coast’s breathtaking area.
Did you know that Auckland’s coast ranges over 15km, will take over four hours to traverse, and is somewhat challenging to navigate? But the truth is that it is worth it. Why is it worth it? Well, you can seemingly walk the length of an entire nation within the span of a few hours. If you wake up early in the morning and go on this journey, you can finish your hike by noon or an hour past noon.
But in that brief timeframe, you can experience several oceans, notice a slew of volcanoes, and have a glimpse into people’s regular lives in the New Zealand area.
This fantastic walk is excellent because of its duration and because you are able to experience lush greenery and park settings over 30% of the time. It is a great way to clear your head, get to know more about the people you are traveling with, and experience the refreshing Auckland air.
Experts suggest beginning your journey at the less intriguing Onehunga area and then moving forward with public transportation at the Britomart stop. You will find that you can travel east to take in the water sights with a bit of work.
When your walk is over, you can grab a fresh beverage at the Waitemata Harbour, a premium harbor.
You will want to make sure to bring some healthy snacks along for the walk because you may not notice different places to eat as you go on this part of the hike.
It is best to ensure that you understand that you must input the Ferry Building into your mobile device or ensure to use the local municipal iSITE for further guidance.
If you are limited on time, I would suggest that you go on this route because it lets you take in the entire area and understand this excellent place.
Hiking Adventures in Bryce Canyon National Park
If you are on the lookout for the perfect environment for an adventurous and challenging hike, look no further. Located in the Southern Utah region is the best park that is most suitable for your hiking adventure, the Bryce Canyon National Park. This is a great option to relaxed after you are through playing in $5 minimum deposit casinos.
This park hosts hike lovers from time to time and people even come from other countries in the world to experience the wonder of this park. The landscape and beautiful trails make this a choice venue. There is a rental service at this location if you love to stay behind.
You can enjoy the priceless glimpse of the sunrise and sunset from the different landscape. The part also permits visitors to create traditional camps at different locations for a more adventurous experience.
There are a couple of trails that you can choose from for your hiking adventure, and no matter your level of experience in hiking, you will find a track that matches your taste. Even if you are totally new to hiking, there is something for you at the Bryce Canyon National Park . Below is a list of some of the trails to try when you take a trip to this park.
The Rim Trail
This is the most accessible trail at Bryce Canyon National Park. It is suitable for those who just want to have a good time walking around and savoring the magnificent scenery of the park. From any part of the park, you can connect to this trail as it goes all the way around the park.
When lodging at the Bryce Canyon Lodge, it is a good idea to start your hike from the place known as the sunrise point. Just as the name implies, if you wake up early to start your walk, you’ll be able to watch the sunrise. If you have a camera with you, you’ll take some fantastic pictures.
Also, you’ll get a clear view of the Bryce amphitheater from this point. Just like in an adventure movie, you have to find a way to link up to boat Mesa, and on your way, you walk through some sites like the Mormon temple and Queen garden. This hiking trail is easy, and all you have to deal with is a total of approximately 200 feet elevation. You will surely have a nice time on this trail.
Navajo Loop Trail
On the order of difficulty, this trail comes next after the rim trail. The starting point of this trail begins from the sunset point around the southern area of the Bryce Canyon Lodge. Just like for the rim trail, the trail presents a nice view of the sunset, and with a good camera, you’ll be able to take exciting photo shoots.
Walking this route involves a visit to the Silent City, which is an aesthetic combination of limestone and urban expansion. During the hike, you will also walk through Wall Street, which happens to be a distinctive attraction at the Bryce Canyon park. You won’t ever want to miss the narrow walls. From this point, you may decide to go back to the sunset point or take other shorter hikes like the Peekaboo loop trail and Queen garden trail. Both routes are challenging and adventurous, but you will enjoy every bit of the challenge. After you have done this, you can then go ahead to have some fun in a $5 minimum deposit casino.
Mossy Cave Trail
This Trail presents an entirely different sight than the one that we have previously mentioned. From this trail, you will be able to catch the view of the towers in the park nearby without descending to the amphitheater. This hiking course begins at approximately 4 miles from the entrance to the Bryce Canyon park. However, if you visit this park and would like to enjoy something completely different from the other common tracks, then this is an exciting hiking trail for you to try.
Hiking is more than a walk, it is a fun and adventurous experience. All trails at the Bryce Canyon National Park are worth trying on your next visit. Whether you seek to have some fun or you just want to catch some beautiful scenery and feel close to nature, you will find the right place that suits you. Get ready to have an amazing hiking experience.
Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos
These are my favourite Camino de Santiago Photos from my pilgrimage along the French Way in March. A truly beautiful way to spend a few weeks.
El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.
To be honest, I was relieved.
The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.
So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.
There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.
Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.
There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.
And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.
Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.
Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.
Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!
While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.
Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.
I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian with both independent planning and a vacation planner. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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