Saturday, 30 May 2015

Trek to Everest Base Camp with me for Nepal.

Since January I have been training for an attempt to reach the summit of the world's sixth highest mountain, Cho Oyu in Tibet, without the use of supplementary oxygen.

Unfortunately in light of the Nepal earthquake and subsequent Avalanche at Everest base camp, which destroyed our camp, all equipment and killed three of our team, the expedition has been put back until 2016, to allow the Sherpas to be with their families and communities and give Henry time to re-establish his equipment and Sherpa team again.

We are all devastated by the loss of Kumar, Pasang Temba and Tenzing, and incredibly grateful for the generosity and support of so many thousands of people in the UK who organised fundraising events and donated to disaster relief efforts, and now the grass roots projects that will be rebuilding lives and communities for years to come.

I was particularly touched by Chesswood school who raised over £7000 for Nepal doing a sponsored walk! Lots of climbing walls have also put on fundraising events, and I am very grateful for the businesses who have contacted me so far to organise talks in return for donations to various projects, I hope we can nail those events down and continue to fundraise even now a lot of media attention has turned elsewhere.

A friend of mine is currently in Nepal filming for the BBC. He text me today to say that they flew over entire villages that had been flattened, and there were vast areas that landslides had destroyed. The monsoon is just around the corner. The fight for these people is not over yet. If there's an event you can put on to raise even a few pounds, it will make a difference to so many. Please do what you can.

Looking forward, I am now planning to walk to Everest Base Camp in March/April 2016 with the aim of pulling together a team of people who want to go on the trek of a lifetime, support Nepal with both their heart and their wallets, and raise money for various grass roots projects.

If you're interested in joining me on this trek, please get in touch: if there's a big enough group, I'll get organising logistics.

So many people have said to me over the years that they'd love to do this trip, so now's your chance!

From there, my plan is to then head to Tibet to attempt Cho Oyu, so you'll be seeing me off on the toughest challenge of my life too. I really hope lots of people get in touch!

The two earthquakes have devastated Nepal, but we can't simply feel sorry for the people affected. We must take action. So whether you stomp to base camp with me next Spring or on another trip in a few years time, please make a promise to yourself that one day in the near future you will visit Nepal. 

Please make that commitment. 

Namaste. Bonita

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Learning New Skills

So much has happened these last few months. I can't believe it is April already! 

 I've been very fortunate so far this year to have teamed up with Ordnance Survey, who I've learnt are the biggest data mapping company in the world- every time you use your sat nav or Google maps, the data has come from OS. 

And there was me thinking OS were just the makers of our beloved paper maps!

 I launched an exciting competition for OS to the public, where the pictures that we snap away on our phones and digital cameras can become the new cover photos of over 600 OS explorer and land ranger map tiles. 

OS have had nearly 10,000 entries so far! 

If you want to enter one of your photos, I explain how in this short YouTube clip:

Upload your entry at WWW.OS.UK/PHOTOFIT

Good luck!

 It's been a glorious start to the year and I've had some great days out in the Lakes and Brecon, trying to brush up on my map skills. 

I didn't know that 90% of hill walkers are followers, with only 10% on average leaders- able to navigate and read a map, did you?! Thinking about it, I am definitely a follower, so my goal for 2015 is to become a leader! 

 In Brecon I had a fun day out with Jake Thompsett working on nav skills. It's all there in the back of my head, but I could really feel the cogs turning trying to remember in gusts of 60mph! It was a beautiful day out, and we barely saw any other people except for one group. Definitely worth the 6 hour round trip.

 My advice to you if you want to brush up on your nav skills:

1. Practice what you can at home, where blustery winds and numb fingers won't be an issue. You can get to grips with finding grid positions, identifying map symbols and learning the process taking a compass bearing. 

2. Once out on your chosen walk, choose landmarks on your map only a few minutes apart and try and hit as many as you can along your way. This is actually quite a lot of fun- like a treasure hunt (but without the treasure), and a good family day out during Easter holidays too.

3. Learn how quickly you cover distances. Such an obvious tip but something I overlooked until Jake pointed it out. I now know that it takes me 68 paces to walk 100m on flat-ish ground, I also now know that my speed it roughly 4kmph on easy terrain. Knowing these things means that I have more tools to draw upon when navigating, and is so useful I can't believe I didn't do it before! Great tip from Jake: print out and use this table along with a stop watch- once your watch beeps you know that you should have roughly covered the distance you intended, provided you didn't take long breaks:

I hope these tips help any budding leaders like me, and please let me know your nav tips too!

Most importantly- just get outside, it doesn't matter how simple the terrain is and how well you know the area, taking a map with you and learning how to marry the landscape with what you see on paper is a skill that simply takes time and experience, there are no short cuts. So what are you waiting for? Get OutSide!

P.S throwback to 2010  with Jon Gupta and my first ever experience of using a paper map- my face belies how confused I was!