Year in the life of a Rohan Wear Tester

Alan and Tim summit of Aonach Beag Rohan Pinnacle Jackets

Alan Ward – Friend of Rohan

I’ve known Alan for many years now and count him as a good friend and an excellent mountain guide. He has that excellent combination of huge enthusiasm for the outdoors and total unflappability in tough situations.
Here is a an inspiring account of what you can get up to in a year if you get fully qualified, quit the day job and get stuck in to the mountains of the world.
Alan has been rigorously weartesting for Rohan ever since he first got in touch with us. His particular forte is getting hard use into a garment and finding its weak spots. Invaluable for us in building better product. But I still haven’t given him what he really wants: a windproof fleece overhead top. Sorry, Alan! Tim Jasper Rohan.co.uk

January – India
My New Year began with my wife and I on a 14hr overnight express from Delhi down in to central India to look at tigers in the Bandhavgarh National Park. The train was a rattling experience and our New Year’s Eve champagne was long gone by midnight. In Bandhavgarh, where we stayed for five days we were lucky with eleven tiger sightings with one magnificent male walking past our vehicle so closely that we could have stroked him. My top tip for tiger sightings is to stay for five days as people we met who stayed one night had no tiger sightings at all. If planning an independent trip, do plenty of research, as not all tiger reserves have tigers these days!

Tiger by Alan Ward

February – Nepal
After the plains of India it was definitely time for a walk in the hills so I diverted in to Nepal before flying home.
With my friend Tim Jasper (Rohan Brand Director) we carried out a reconnaissance trek to Tara Top (2,800m) in preparation for a group of charity trekkers using the route later in 2010. We were the first trekkers into the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) so it was pleasant to have the foothills of the Annapurna range to ourselves. Read the story

Details of this charity trekking route can be seen on www.skylineevents.co.uk

Rural landscape in Western Nepal by Alan Ward

March – The Great Wall, China
I’m sure the 30 charity trekkers I flew to Beijing with had no inkling that the Great Wall for them would be a winter experience, cold and icy!
Charity treks are big business in the UK and the Pre-trek weekend courses I run in the Brecon Beacons are increasingly popular with charity trekkers.
It was cold on the Great Wall but everyone completed their challenge to raise funds for “Help a London Child” and “Have a Heart”.
It was an experience leaving Beijing as our Cathay Pacific A330 had 6” of snow on the wings. We boarded on time but spent six hours out on the apron waiting to be properly de-iced!

Details of this charity trekking route  can be seen on www.skylineevents.co.uk

Charity trek on The Great Wall of China by Alan Ward

April – Kilimanjaro (5,895m) Tanzania
At long last I finally get to climb Kilimanjaro and once again this would be as a reconnaissance trek for charity trekkers. Kilimanjaro National Park fees are expensive so this is never going to be a cheap destination and independent travel on the mountain isn’t allowed. There are very large groups on Kilimanjaro for much of the year but we (yes, Tim came along as well) were there in the low season and pretty much had the mountain to ourselves on the Machame Route.
Q. How did we cope? Well we both made it to the summit for a most spectacular sunrise over Africa.
Q. Was it hard work? Certainly the summit day was, with a midnight start for the long slog up to the crater rim and summit before an equally long and hard descent off the mountain.

For Tim’s account of this trip click here to read on Rohantime or check out Tim’s Kili Kit List

Details of this charity trekking route  can be seen on www.skylineevents.co.uk

Nearing the summit of Kilimanjaro (5,895m) by Alan Ward

May – Peru (An Inca Trail)
With congestion on The Inca Trail there has been pressure on operators to find alternative Inca Trails. This reconnaissance trek was intended to evaluate one such new route. The reconnaissance was for charity trekking with a brief to fit this in to a ten day itinerary. The five day trek was along ancient Inca trade routes and the itinerary included a couple of days in the old Inca capital of Cuzco and also a visit to Machu Picchu.
My top travel trip for getting out to Peru would be to fly LAN Peru.

Details of this charity trekking route  can be seen on www.skylineevents.co.uk

Peru Alan Ward

June – Brecon Beacons
Back in the UK it’s time to provide first aid training for locally based outdoor professionals and enthusiasts through the Rescue Emergency Care (REC) scheme.
Rescue Emergency Care (REC) is a well known and respected first aid training organisation founded in the mid 1980s by Dr Robert Phillips while working in remote healthcare and adventure rescue services. REC was set up to provide a comprehensive and flexible training programme that extends the competency of the participants. This unique style of first aid training has been delivered by REC trainers throughout the UK and Europe for over 20 years.
I deliver REC training courses (HSE approved) monthly in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Details of these courses can be seen on www.bigfootservices.co.uk

First Aid Course Rescue Emergency Care (REC) Alan Ward

July – Stok Kangri, Ladakh, India
This was a trekking expedition to Stok Kangri (6,137m) with five clients. Ladakh is a fascinating area to visit with a vibrant Buddhist culture and spectacularly rugged snow-capped mountain scenery. Whilst part of India, Ladakh is like an independent country where the people are extremely friendly and there is a definite sense of remoteness from the rest of India. Due to adverse weather conditions on our summit attempt only two clients reached the summit but the other three did very well in reaching points between 5,500m and 5,900m.

Details of this trekking expedition can be seen on www.themountaincompany.co.uk

Young monk in the Royal Palace, Leh Alan Ward

August – Iceland

With a group of fifteen charity trekkers raising funds for a wide variety of charities we trekked through a moonscape-like landscape for five days.
We trekked on the “LAUGAVEGUR” which is a 50km trail linking Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork. This route passes through volanic mountain ranges and areas rich in geothermal activity with steaming vents and hot springs. This is the same route which the 2009 Rohan Trek used.

Details of this charity trekking route  can be seen on www.skylineevents.co.uk

Trekking in Iceland Alan Ward

September – Brecon Beacons
Increasingly in the UK I am being asked to deliver navigation training and I use the NNAS (National Navigation Award Scheme) for this. The late Autumn is a good time of year for these courses and I was busy throughout September with NNAS courses.
NNAS courses include knowledge of safety and access issues when walking in the countryside, as well as an understanding of environmental issues and awareness of impacts.
The levels of NNAS award:
Bronze NNAS Award – navigation in the countryside using paths tracks and other linear features, basic map interpretation and compass work is included. Distance 2-5 kilometres
Silver NNAS Award – navigation in the countryside using skills acquired at bronze level and adding skills required to navigate to features and places some distance from paths and tracks, accurate compass work is required and an ability to use appropriate navigational techniques to go across country in some cases, eg. choosing an appropriate attack point. Distance 5-8 kilometres
Gold NNAS Award – navigation in the countryside using skills of the first two levels, but adding techniques and skills for dealing with complex contour features large and small. Distance 6-10 kilometres
Details of these courses can be seen on www.bigfootservices.co.uk

Navigation training (NNAS) in the Brecon Beacons Alan Ward

October – Mera Peak (6,476m), Nepal

A three week trek to a 6,476m summit was always going to be a challenge for me as an Expedition Leader. Four helicopter medivac evacuation flights for 5 clients and a blizzard at High Camp (5,800m) prevented our reaching the summit proved this point. Starting off with 12 clients and ending up with only 7 clients was not a leadership challenge I’m keen to repeat. Nevertheless, this was an extremely interesting trip with a great bunch of people with whom I’d happily trek again.

Details of this trekking expedition can be seen on www.themountaincompany.co.uk

Descending from Mera Peak High Camp Alan Ward

November – Mt Toubkal (4,167m), Morocco

This was another opportunity for me to work with Team Rohan as three senior staff needed to test clothing and review product lines. Mt Toubkal (4,167m) was the chosen destination and everyone reached the summit under extremely cold and wintery conditions.

For Tim’s account of this trip click here to read on Rohantime.

Interested in this trip then contact Alan on: info@bigfootservices.co.uk

Team Rohan in Morocco Alan Ward

December – Brecon Beacons

Back home for the Christmas holidays and some local courses: REC First Aid and a WGL (Walking Group Leader) Assessment course.

The WGL Award is for those who wish to lead a group of hill walkers in non- mountainous hilly terrain in the UK. You will learn such skills as group management, navigation, emergency procedures, access and conservation and remote supervision.

WGL training and assessment courses are run over three consecutive days or two weekends.

Details of these courses can be seen on www.bigfootservices.co.uk

Winter skills training for a blind friend in Scotland Alan Ward

Join Alan on one of his long-haul expeditions to the Himalaya or Atlas Mountains in 2011, two of which are charity treks (Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp) for Wales Air Ambulance. For details of these treks or to find out more about the mountain navigation and first aid courses run by Alan, contact info@bigfootservices.co.uk or look at www.bigfootservices.co.uk which also features a photography section of Alan’s worldwide travels.union of international mountain leader associations

Alan is happy to answer any travel related questions by email.

info@bigfootservices.co.uk
www.bigfootservices.co.uk

 

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