Last night I had a dream that I was with Ranulph Fiennes having a long chat about what a mission in itself planning an expedition is. This chat I had with him in my dream, isn't that far fetched from when I met him the other day. Within a few short seconds of meeting Ran (in real life) he was giving me advice on life in general and also expeditions.
If Ran still finds planning an expedition hard work even after all these years, I thought it would be something to make a point of here in this blog. Especially as most people just assume you buy some kit then get up and go. Sadly, it's not that simple.
For Patagonia, despite the actual race being organised, there has still been a surprising amount of logistics to work out. Other than the obvious, personal kit and flights, it's been quite a puzzle.
Being the Captain means I am responsible for making sure things run smoothly right up until the start line (then it's all for one and one for all). There is so much paper work that I have to get from every team member which includes medical certificates, first aid qualifications, kayaking certificates, insurance details and more. Trying to organise that with four very busy people can be quite time consuming.
On top of that, you've got the biggest kit list I have ever seen. Now, I used to think that the Arctic was bad for kit, but at least that was one, maybe two disciplines rather than four like this one. Patagonia is a mixture of hiking, climbing, sea kayaking and mountain biking. Then there's the safety equipment e.g. sat phones and radios. The only way you can do this affordably is to hire the expensive items like sat phones, call in favours and figure out deals for specialised items like the bikes. We are lucky enough to be working with Beacon bikes who are designing our brand new bikes for us - Thanks Beacon!
Sometimes with the really important gear you just have to bite the bullet and spend the money. At the end of the day, it's worth going for the jacket that you know will be 100% waterproof but is £100 more than another or, you're holding off buying items because you might (just might) be able to get them at a discounted rate... When it really comes down to it, the gear is what could save your life and in order to know that the gear works, you have to test the hell out of it, so don't wait around too long.
Luggage is a pain too. It's the little things that add up and cost money. We have a lot of gear and will have to book more bags on the flight. As well as this, the complicated bit comes after the race.. Myself and another team member are staying on to explore more of Chile and then Argentina with a little mountaineering in there too. Yet we'll need to ship race bags back to the UK... All things to consider when planning adventures.
Getting the word out is something to take note of too. For the last three months, I've been meeting with various well known explorers to let them know about the trip and about our team. The Royal Geographical Society have been wonderful too. A big shout out to Shane Winser for helping us with stalls at the Explore 2015 weekend (a great event that anyone interested in adventure, expeditions and fieldwork should go to). The benefit of doing all of this is really so that when we return, we will have a take off point and be able to take what we learnt from the trip, further.
So there's a snap shot of logistic planning for this trip.. I do spend a surprising amount of time at my laptop when in pre-expedition mode. Yet, as any 'adventurer' will tell you, it's all part of the fun and gets the excitement going!