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Another 5 reasons to go on an expedition.

Another 5 reasons to go on an expedition.

So, in an earlier blog post, we gave you 5 great reasons to go on an expedition, now whether it is with us (we hope it is) or any other Scout expedition, we truly hope that it will be a life changing experience. Here are another 5 great reasons to put on those hike boots and start walking.

Getting away from the crowd; Many beautiful places in the world are also some of the most visited, but while other visitors are taking the easy road to the most popular sites, you can venture to more remote locales. Having this opportunity brings you up close to the wildlife and to seldom-explored areas, allowing you to see wildlife that can be found nowhere else in a way few others can.

Give something to others:  As part of the community project, everyone will have the opportunity to give something to others, whether that is painting a classroom so they can learn in a safe environment , to building a toilet house to provide better sanitation. Working with locals in our community projects is invariably one of the most enriching and life-enhancing parts of the expedition.

The people: The people on the team, as well as the people you meet, are sure to become lifelong friends. There is nothing quite like sharing a tent for a month, dealing with expedition challenges together to form lifelong friendships.

The CV: From a purely academic point of view, an aspect which is undoubtedly important for many young people, expeditions look great on your CV.

In 40 years time, ( or even sooner…) youll probably regret the things you didn’t do, rather than those things you did.

Contact us and get involved!

Email: (Patagonia@hsx.org.uk) or stay tuned to the blog for more details.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/HSXPatagonia

Twitter: @HSXofficial #Pat2017

Early Bird Catches the Worm!

Early Bird Catches the Worm!

“Way too keen in my opinion”! That’s how Joe felt about the few eager HSX members who decided to make the annual pilgrimage to the Lake District earlier this year, to embark on a wild camping micro-adventure.


Normally we’d leave our homes on Thursday night, arriving at Great Tower Scout Activity Centre in the early hours of Friday morning, ready to hit the Lakeland Fells for the Easter Weekend. However Chris, having convinced his HSX Patagonia 2017 expedition leader and a couple of companions, braved the Thursday morning rush-hour traffic, eventually heading into the Langdales, for some much needed team bonding and Mountain Leader practice. Undeterred by the overcast conditions, the team headed into the fells, micro-navigating to Angle Tarn, where they set up camp for the night, bagging a series of peaks in the blistering early morning sunshine before the inevitable rain set in again!

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The Ad+Venture trip is the most popular trip outside of Hampshire, and this year saw a strong turnout of 44 members, comprising of the Cambodia 2016 expedition, Patagonia 2017 leader team, Antarctica team and other HSX members. Needless to say packing this many adventurers into such a small space generate quite a lot of excitement, with lots of adventures being planned in spite of the miserable conditions.

The plan for the weekend saw Matt spent time with his Cambodia team as the expedition leader, maintaining contact time with his team, which makes a massive difference when on expedition. There would be no rest of the rest of the Antarctica team however, which saw them divide their time between their own personal goals and Antarctica tasks.

On Good Friday Joe took two under 18s multi-pitch climbing on White Ghyll crag, practising for his MIA assessment, whilst Dave took a group single pitch climbing on Scout crag and Ollie went fell-running around the Fairfield Horseshoe. This was the best day weather wise, feeling like and early summer’s morning. However, with dark clouds looming the rain soon rolled in, bringing an end to the day’s activities by mid-afternoon. For some of the under 18’s it was the first day they had been climbing and it was great that the Antarctica team could help facilitate this.

Saturday saw Chris, Joe and Ollie run the Kentmere ring, one of the most scenic circular routes you can do in the Lake District… if you can see it! They were joined by Alan, Jamie and Ross, who all braved the deteriorating weather conditions, enduring horizontal rain, howling gales and stinging hail. Covering 26km and over 1300m of ascent in just over the 4 hours, this was a good pace and the team were happy with their performance, giving them a boost of confidence for their up and coming Jurassic Triple. However all was well once the team had gone into Ambleside for some post run rehydration! But don’t judge we, of course we had our post run chocolate milk, as ordered by our sports nutritionist Dr Hill from Solent University.

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If the team thought they got wet on Saturday, then Sunday was going to bring them another slap in the face. This time rain and hail gave way to strong winds and snow up on the hills of the Lake District. Joe went out with two under 18s for a scramble on Harrison Stickle, which is just west of Pavey Ark. Ollie and Chris opted for a lower level walk helping people practise for their ML assessments, teaching micro navigation and flora and fauna identification. Normally focussing on lichens, mosses, birds and the odd small mammal, the team almost stepped on an Adder making the most of the basking opportunities between the heavy downpours!

Not wanting to rest on our laurels, the evening were packed with practised presentations for our Cotswold presentations, planning our training for the year ahead and discussing our sponsorship strategy and where we’re going for the next year. This side of our the expedition planning is just as important as getting out and training in the mountains, and it was also a big moral boost knowing the ball is rolling quite well at the moment with exciting trips, challenges and events lined for this year.

Don’t forget the basics!

Don’t forget the basics!

“Don’t forget the basics!” reminded our ski instructor Ludo, as we peered tentatively over the edge of the steep icy black run Clocher de macle.


Rewind the clock back four days and we were being rudely awoken by the piercing sound of our early morning alarm call. “Why on earth did we book onto the 05:30 flight!?” exclaimed Dave, “it’s not even 02:00 yet!” replied Chris as we began to stir from our all too short sleep.  “Well, look at it this way, at least we’ll be on the slopes by lunchtime!” chirped Adrian, trying to extenuate the positives of being on one of the first flights of the day.

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It’s surprising how a short hop from Gatwick can take you to the best alpine skiing in mainland Europe. Even better, was the stunning sunrise above the blanket of cloud covering France on the way and the relative ease with which we got booked into to our apartment in the Les Bergers area of l’Alpe d’huez (after a chaotic game of shotgun to secure the best bed, that is). Shortly after arriving, we were getting kitted up, picking up our lift passes, and hitting the slopes. The aim of the week was to practice what we had learnt on our visits to the Snozone in Milton Keynes and sure up our technique; pretty easy when your bed is 50 metres from snow!

For Ollie, Joe and Matt, each morning began with ski tuition with instructor Ludo. Ludo was a veteran ski and snowboard instructor in winter, sailing instructor in summer and the coolest Frenchman you’ll ever hope to meet, with a penchant for the ladies. With over 20 years’ experience, the team knew he’d be perfect in helping to develop their skills on skis. Ludo kept hammering home the “the first basic” of skiing, however, little did they realise this was to be the first of seven “first basics” introduced over the week! The individual aims of the three guys (and Besty from HSX by whom they were accompanied) were to graduate from the basic snowplough turns, to a more complex parallel turn. In the meantime, Chris, Dave and Adrian, all competent downhill skiers, spent the time exploring and pushing themselves hard on red and black runs.

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We were treated to uninterrupted blue sky, bright sunshine and well-above average temperatures throughout the week. Combined with below average snow-fall, it felt more like late alpine spring than mid-winter and as a result, the 35 runs that were open (instead of 130) were pretty busy, whilst the best skiing to be had was in the morning. In order to get to the best conditions, on day two, the team headed to the higher slopes at the top of the mountain, where freshly made artificial snow was waiting. Making the most of this, Chris and Adrian attempted some easy off-piste skiing and the others refined their skills on the blues. Unfortunately, even the best laid plans don’t go smoothly and losing track of time, we discovered that the lift to the top of the mountain was closed on our return. This left us with no option but to head down La Sarenne; one of the longest Black runs in Europe and reciting Ludo’s advice “don’t forget the basics!”

Midweek, we decided to treat ourselves and headed into town for a traditional Alpine Raclette. Simply put, this involves eating your own body weight in melted cheese and bread, which for some, resulted in some serious stomach issues afterwards and arguing about who was going to use the single toilet first! Besides eating a lot of dairy and meat, we tried to eat as healthily and cheaply as possible and often favoured heading back to the apartment at lunchtime to gorge on freshly baked baguette and lots of tasty fillings and cooking for ourselves at dinner; it was Christmas after all…

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On Christmas eve, Ludo invited the team to join in with celebrations organised by the ski school. We were treated to a spectacular (if not slightly odd) interpretive dance story of French Father Christmas, complete with neon lights and fireworks and the whole event was topped off by an impressive precession of lights down the mountain slopes by the ski instructors (and of course, the complementary glass of Vin Chaud).

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In our minds, we knew that the Psychology of waking up on Christmas day away from our families was always going to be difficult to get used to, however it was great to spend the following day skiing with great friends in such a spectacular setting. On Christmas morning we gathered around the breakfast table to open our ‘not so secret’ secret Santa gifts and headed out for the last ski of the week, with a secret intention we had successfully kept from Matt. Heading over to L’Alpette in the afternoon, we gave him the surprise of investing him as an official Scout right there on the slope after some good fake-acting on Ollie’s part to cause a distraction whilst the team got their uniforms on and the flag at the ready. Matt recited his promise and finally became a fully-fledged Scout, despite having being in HSX for three years!

Keep an eye out for Matt’s investiture video and more photos of our week on the Slopes!

HSX Ad+Venture 2015

Another jam packed weekend of adventure in the Lakes! Over 40 participants descended on Great Tower Activity Centre for the annual HSX trip. 

Day 1 (Good Friday) saw the hills shrowded in mist so a day of walking on Wetherlam, Old Man of Coniston and Kentmere Ring was enjoyed by three groups with lots of navigation skills being tested. The Antartica team spend the morning together discussing plans before mountain biking on the other side of Lake Windermere. 

On day 2 a team of climbers headed over the border into Yorkshire for some single pitch climbing whilst the rest headed into the Langdales with one group multi pitch climbing on Gimmer and Raven Crag and a group of athletes representing TeamHSX in a FRA Fell Race to the top of Harrison Stickle and back.  

 

On Saturday evening a team camped out under amazingly clear skies a Grizedale tarn and woke up to an awesome sunrise above the clouds before waking the Hevellyn ridge.  

The rest of the group split on Sunday with some exploring underground caving in Yorkshire; a group walking the Fairfield horseshoe and others multipitching on Castle Rock. 

Lakes 2015 saw everyone have an amazing time with lots of varied adventurous activites!  

Scotland Day 1… That certainly blew away the cobwebs!!!

Scotland Day 1… That certainly blew away the cobwebs!!!

As is tradition in February half-term, HSX head up to the Cairngorms, for a week of winter mountaineering! Having left Hampshire on Friday night, most of the group arrived at 7am Saturday morning after an epic drive up from the South Coast.

Arriving at a more sensible 2am Chris, Dobbie and Joe got out onto the hill to assess the conditions on the nearby Corries, and got to the top of Cairn Gorm, enjoying the pea-soup conditions, micro-navigating back down via 1141m.

The main group got up at around 12 and went for a small walk to Ryvoan bothy which offered some good views, before heading into Aviemore, to enjoy a Hot Chocolate at the recently renamed Café Mambo!

Sunday we all got out together and battled through 60mph gusts into Corie Cas. Once we arrived at our destination we practised basic winter mountaineering skills, including cutting bucket seats, self-arrest, walking technique, step cutting and testing the snow stability, by digging an avalanche pit. Unfortunately we were not able to use crampons today due to the soft snow and wind strength.

We practised all this with a journalist and photographer joining in with everything; this was an interesting experience for all of us, with Ollie deciding he should be followed by the Paparazzi everywhere (he’s such a diva!).

Arriving back at the Car Park we found out that the mountain road was closed (due to storm force winds!), so Russ couldn’t meet us for our pick, but luckily we had one van at the Car Park, so we were able to ferry the group down (much to the jealousy of the other walkers making the long decent to the bottom of the mountain).

For the rest of the week we’re planning on putting these skills into practice along with learning more advanced skills and also planning an overnight in snow holes/bothys.

One and a half times the size of the USA: 10 surprising facts about Antarctica

One and a half times the size of the USA: 10 surprising facts about Antarctica

How much do you know about Antarctica? The team has been busy doing their research about the continent they are going to spend 80 days on in 2018; here is our top 10:

10) The lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth was -89.2oC (128.6oF), recorded at Vostok Research Station on 21st July 1983

9) The highest recorded temperature at the Amundsen-Scout South Pole Research station was -12.3oC (9.9oF) in 2011

8) Only 2% of Antarctica’s surface is not covered in ice; called an ‘Antarctic Oasis’ these are generally found on the warmest part of Antarctica, the Antarctic Peninsular, mountain tops and some coastal areas

7) The South Pole has a desert climate, almost never receiving precipitation and air humidity is near zero

6) Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest place on Earth

5) Antarctica is one and a half times the size of the United States with an area of 14 million km2

4) The West Antarctic Peninsular is the fastest warming place on Earth, experiencing increases in mean temperature in the order of 1oC per decade since the 1950’s

3) Antarctica is losing 159 billion tonnes of ice per year

2) Until about 50 million years ago, Antarctica had a temperate climate and evergreen forests, having been part of the supercontinent ‘Gondwana’. Captain Scott and the Terra Nova expedition were the first to provide evidence of this after the discovery of ‘Glossiopteris’ fossils; an ancient tree fern found on all of the Southern Continents

1) The Antarctic Ice Sheet contains 27 million km3 of ice; 61% of the fresh water available on Earth