Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Twenty-five and still alive

Twenty five is by no means old, and I'd like to think not even at my prime. However, this is an age that has made me think about the last five years; what have I achieved? Where am I heading? What do I hope to accomplish in the next five years? This all sounds very much like a boring new years' resolution blog, but I hope it's much more than that. I hope it's the start of my next phase of adventure, a time when I have come to truly realise that if you want to achieve great things, there is only one person you have to turn to in order to get the ball rolling - yourself.

Don't get me wrong, the last five years have been awesome. I have been with Millie for nearly the same amount of time - which has been incredible - and I'm now employed doing something I have done as a hobby for the last ten years. So I couldn't be a pilot due to colourblindness, but in 2010 when I returned from my 8-month trip, I came to the point where I had to decide what I wanted to do. Video Production seemed like the logical thing to get into given my background with filming skateboarding for the last six years, and the dream of 'starting a video production company was born.

I don't think back then I had any idea about some of the things I would have to do in order to eventually be filming for a living. It was certainly a lot more hard work than simply buying a decent camera... and luck was definitely a big part of it too, but here I am, and I am very thankful for that.

Where is this all going?

Basically, for the last five years, I've done a lot of great things, but I don't think I've done enough of the one thing that gets harder and harder to achieve as you move on through life (unless you take the right steps to make it happen) - adventure.

I've kept up my passion of reading mountaineering books and fantasising about the great routes to the point where sometimes it feels like I have climbed them myself and over the last few months I've had a real hunger to go and do something similar to what I've always been reading about - train for an expedition or climb, go out and do it and come back with a story to tell.

Some of the things I read are and always will be out of my reach, such as the North Face of The Eiger; ridiculously dangerous and exposed. There are some routes however that seem much more achievable through a respectable amount of hard work and dedication.

In order to kick-start this dream, I will further build my climbing skills throughout this summer - in fact, I am going to North Wales again in a couple of weeks - and develop my snow and ice skills come winter, and then my first big adventure will be to try and summit the highest peak in the Alps - Mont Blanc.

This is a peak that is very accessible to a reasonably fit individual, and through a guided accent is a very good way to learn more about high altitude mountaineering and dealing with real snow and ice based situations - not to mention the incredible view from the top.

On our 'family holiday' in Switzerland last month, we ventured out to Chamonix and took the mountain lift up to the Aiguille Du Midi - a peak that neighbours Mont Blanc. This was a good chance to see the route close up and experience the high altitude environment. It was really quite amazing and I can't wait to be on the other side of the viewing platform ice-axe in hand.

My next post will most likely be after Wales, where we will attempt Tryfan once again and a first for me - Crib Goch and possibly the Snowdon Horseshoe.

Fittingly, I'll close this post with a photograph Millie and I in front of Mont Blanc itself, as I lose all dignity in the favour of the practicality that comes with a selfie-stick.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Switzerland 2014 | One Week In The Mountains

Last summer's trip to Switzerland has been edited into a short film cut together from various GoPro and DSLR clips - enjoy!

Switzerland 2014 | One Week In The Mountains from Santiago Pilgrim on Vimeo.

Off to Wales for the second time in a week today so hopefully some more footage will be out soon!



Monday, 15 September 2014

The first of many. Well, that's the plan at least.

Ben and I pedalled off from Tunbridge Wells a little later than expected, it was gone one o'clock when we gave up waiting on Max and decided to meet him en-route at the Old Vine in Cousley Wood. 40 minutes later we had arrived - thirsty, tired, and shocked at how long the first 4 miles had taken us. We had to do 26 more before sundown. The kit on my pannier weighed probably the best part of 30 kilos and Ben was riding a BMX.

Max joined us shortly after we ordered our drinks and we chatted for a while about how each of us had prepared for the journey - it was clear that I had been the most prepared person by buying a pannier and setting it with more than two hours to spare - Max was hungover and had only just finished bolting his bike together. Still, with the spirt of adventure fresh in our hearts and dreams of sandy beaches and cold beers, we set off once again.

It was hard going, harder than what I ever expected. It took a lot of determination one some of the hills, and it seemed impossible on others, but once we got a rhythm going we made some progress. We reached Hawkhurst - just under half-way - by about 5 o'clock. Of course, we had a pint and relaxed for a while.

The weather was pleasant with no wind or rain, we were able to keep plodding along at a steady pace. Slow, but steady. It wasn't until after 7 o'clock that we reached Rye, with still 5 miles to go.

Google estimated the trip to take 2 hours 44 minutes - yeah, right!

We arrived at Camber Sands with just enough time to pitch our tents before dark.

Sleeping on the sand wasn't as comfortable as I predicted - next time I will try digging out a bed.

We cycled down to the sea and Ben even had the courage to swim in it. I am normally the one to step up to such challenge but I must admit; it was cold and I was very dry and comfortable, and with a 30 mile ride back with already beaten up thighs, I didn't want to add to my burden.

The ride back took a while, stopping at pubs was again our only paradise in a world of pain - okay that's a bit dramatic, but it was nice to stop for a few drinks :)

Although it did pour down briefly, we avoided any significant rain. We arrived back in Tunbridge Wells just before sundown. I felt tired, but alive and full of the good spirit that you get after completing and adventure.

This was a tiny ride in comparison to what I am proposing to do next year. In fact what we did in two days, I am going to need to do in half a day, six times over.

I will try and improve my stamina and speed over the next few months. I have been running almost every week since the ride and I'm not up to 10 miles, I have also been swimming and I've kept up my weekly rock climbing outings. Of course I have also been cycling to work which doesn't seem like much, but has helped dramatically when cycling uphill - it is now a lot easier and I believe it is these obstacles that slow down progress in a long ride.

Hope you enjoyed reading this - click play to watch the footage from my GoPro of the ride. I will keep you updated on my training!


Friday, 15 August 2014

What is it that makes someone plan a new adventure?

Perhaps it's the challenge, the feeling of accomplishment, the desire to explore or maybe just a way of breaking the everyday routine with something extraordinary.

I have found my next adventure, and it is something that I've never really done before. It's something that will require a lot of training, and perhaps build towards something bigger in the future.

In 2015, I am going to cycle the Three Peaks Challenge in less than three days.

Three Peaks Challenge Route - National Geographic
This involves climbing Ben Nevis in Scotland, cycling over 300 miles to the Peak Disctrict, climbing Scafell Pike then cycling a further 140 miles to Snowdonia and climbing Snowdon - all in under 72 hours.

I have never cycled any more than just a few miles, but after reading books like Cycling Home From Siberia by Rob Lilwall, I have been inspired in this method of travel. The freedom to be able to travel cheaply, choosing your route and facing the elements along the way.

My training will involve a series of shorter trips, which will not only get my build my strength but also help me to become efficient in camping/carrying kit and everything else that a cycling trip will involve.

I will start the training by a trip to Camber Sands - at just 30 miles each way, it will be a great way to start this amazing adventure.

I will let you know how I get on!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Beats' USA Bike Ride

"I’ll stick out my thumb and I'll trudge down the highway
Someday someone must be going my way home
Till then I’ll make my bed from a disused car

With a mattress of leaves and a blanket of stars
And I’ll stitch the words into my heart with a needle and thread 

Don’t you cry for the lost

Smile for the living
Get what you need and give what you’re given
You know life’s for the living so live it
Or you’re better off dead"

It's particularly those last two lines that strike me from this song, it reminds me just how important it is to do the things you love, no matter how dangerous, difficult, or out of the ordinary they might be. Because if you're not living life to its full potential, then you are wasting your time on this beautiful earth. 

Come May this year a friend of mine, Rob Beattie, will be cycling the length of North America on his own, in just 10 weeks. He is funding the trip by himself and raising money for Cancer Research - which is obviously one of the best causes out there. He has never done anything like this before and I'd like to take this opportunity to say; I admire what you're doing, I am extremely jealous, and I hope it goes well and you have the time of your life - I know you will! 

If you don't have the money right now then simply share the link to Rob's website, if you do, then donate at least a couple of pounds of an amazing cause, but most of all, remember to live your life how you want to live it and be happy!

Donate here.

Follow Rob on his journey here.

Monday, 30 December 2013

560 Miles - 3559 Feet - 11Km

Setting off at 4.30am, we drove through a couple of storms towards Snowdonia where we found a beautifully decorated Snowdon with just a touch of white stuff visible on the upper slopes. Certainly nothing like what we experienced back in April but there was one element that made this day challenging in its own right - 100mph winds on the summit.

We took the Pyg track which in fine conditions is a very easy route. However, the strong gusts of wind made this route very interesting, with slippery ice as you reached the ridge on the last section. We made it despite all this and ticked off yet another summit on what has - in 2013 at least - proved to be a very versatile mountain with a range of challenges to throw at us.

We climbed with a highly experienced Norwegian pair, Sissel Smaller and her partner Petter. We met them as we set off and spent the day with them, not only are they incredibly friendly people but their knowledge and stories from their many climbs, including the '7 summits', made for some awesome conversations throughout the day.

We made it up there in what was for myself at least, a personal best. 2 hours up 2 and half down, we then came back down safely and drove the long but completely worth it journey home back to Kent.

Pyg track.
Scouting the route.
On the ridge.
Summit - Santiago, Sam & Roy.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Spartan Run? Well, it was bloody hard.

With a slight delay, I can now report back on how I found the 'Spartan Run' in November.

It was hard. It was freezing cold. It was raining, a lot. No one told you how far along you were so there was no sense of proximity to the finish, only sketchy rumours from fellow speculative Spartans. By the end I could barely run anymore, totally exhausted, knackered. I don't think I've ever been so worn out before. It was awesome...and would I do it again? Yes, anytime! It was an incredible and somewhat unexpected challenge as Tough Muddder was so easy in comparison.

Tomorrow morning I'm on the road to North Wales with Sam again, should be good to catch up as he's been in South Sudan since I last saw him in April. A couple of other chaps are coming along too including Roy who I ran Tough Mudder and Spartan with, so it should be a good day. The weather is forecast to be absolutely awful so a navigational challenge lies ahead, and we're very much looking forward to it.

The plan is to do the Pyg track, to Snowdon summit and back. We were hoping for something more challenging but there is serious wind and rain to take into account so it may end up challenging enough!

Traviajero.com is back!

On a completely different note, you may remember that a few years ago the blog was under traviajero.com. I since lost the domain due to my failure to renew it. The bastards who subsequently bought it made some sort of random travel site out of it, which obviously didn't do very well because I've just spotted the domain up for grabs again, and I'm pleased to say I've got it back!

Traviajero is a mixture of the word traveller and the spanish word with the same meaning, viajero. I thought of this before my big trip in 2009 and although it was more fitting back then, I am going to revert back to this domain as it reflects my passion for travel, be it a day-trip to Snowdon or 8 months in the Americas, I will always be up for an adventure.