September weekend this year, as always, proved to be a very interesting one. Not only as it marked that we are near the end of our training with now just two weekends left before departure, but for the first time since joining HSX, team Cambodia wasn’t the new expedition team!! With Chris Slater and his team launching the Patagonia Expedition a few months earlier, we were eager to befriend them (who were great) and share all our experiences and knowledge from our training with them.
We started the weekend at the small climbing wall at Ferny Crofts Scout Activity Centre, and were taught a selection of new climbing skills. For me, this was the highlight of the weekend, building on our knowledge from other weekends but now progressing our development into now teaching other people…! First of all we had to set up a climb without any idea or instruction of what to do, which went surprisingly well; following some slight cheating by looking at one that was already set up (Cough Cough). After climbing on our ground anchor set-ups, we went abseiling, learning how to lower someone down and then how to ascend ropes. Next was lunch and homemade Pizza’s, I’m not sure Rosemary had anticipated our level of excitement or potential mess when she planned this…. But it was great fun and some were more successful than others to say the least.
The afternoon was spent doing a selection of admin task. The team had our first aid training, we’re now thoroughly prepared for any situation, having run through muggings, emergencies, end of the world type scenarios, and of course, the runs. It was really nice to go through every part of the trip, looking at our hotels and flight times, because it made the whole thing more real. Less than 3 months to go!
It turns out that perseverance pays off, because in the evening we got out of a climbing film (to Matt’s disappointment!) in favor of watching Magic Mike. Despite the dodgy camera angles and obvious small budget, it was a good film (made better by Cerys’ immense knowledge), possibly highlighted by several older HSX members re-enacting certain scenes throughout the film.
To make up for our film choice, the older members of HSX did get us back with a brisk session of PT first thing on the Sunday morning; great fun if you feel like dying and being dead. We ran until we reached the river at Ipley Bridge, along the way doing a mixture of sprint intervals and 50% effort intervals. Once at the river (I’m sure you can guess whats next) we all went in; some needed more encouragement than others, to do squats and then under the bridge. Running back up the road it was just a case of surviving, our team was the image of perfect health; I was wheezing, Anna pushed herself enough to almost puke, and Cerys was half dead from a chest infection.
As well as Daniel Heatons Birthday (he loved the Frozen themed cake) on the Sunday it was also Happy Birthday to HSX, celebrating the 30th anniversary. Joined by members past and present, it was inspiring for us to see how it all started and the journey it has been on to become the HSX that we have known over the last year. We had a BBQ expertly cooked by Kenneth and Ed, which was greatly enjoyed by everyone, and after an emotional speech by the man that started it all; Russ Parke, we had the biggest birthday cake for everyone. It was a perfect end to a great weekend.