Posts Tagged ‘photography’

On the glacier - IllimaniThe two climbers from our 360 Extremes training project in Bolivia, alone on the glacier up to the summit of Illimani; two insignificant dots on the ice, making a slow journey up in the thinner oxygen levels at over 6,000 metres (19,600 feet) above sea level.

Down from the mountainClimbing down the knife-edge ridge from the summit of Huayna Potosi, just over 6,000m above sea level. With a 1,000m  drop on one side and 500m on the other, it’s slightly scary for anyone with a bit of vertigo..!

 

The Niteroi bridge

The Niteroi Bridge and the route we were to take – Photo: Lourenço Alcimar

Back from another half marathon in Rio de Janeiro, my second such race, but this time going from Niteroi, over a 13km bridge, to Flamengo beach. A steady up-hill over the main hump of the bridge for the first few kilometers, and then just about downhill or flat from then on… more or less (there were occasional slight upward slopes that helped make things harder, especially towards the end when you think that the hard parts are over with)!

View over the bay

Looking over the bay from Niteroi to Rio de Janeiro Photo: Lourenço Alcimar

Altogether it was pretty different from the previous course which was straight along the beach for 17km before having a devilish uphill for a kilometer or so before going down to the finish. This time we had splendid views over the bay and it was neither too hot nor too cold, and altogether quite enjoyable as well as pretty unique. With this uniqueness comes the popularity – around 8,000 athletes joined the race, about twice as many as the previous one I was in.

My time last time was 1h54m59s and this race, with a bit more training (which was admittedly interrupted for a little while by my pulling a calf muscle and then re-pulling it when I tried to run too fast too soon), I managed to reduce this time to 1h50m31s. So I was pleased.  I am suffering a bit as I write now – my right knee hurts (just below the knee to be precise), and the outer side of my left foot is not great, so am hobbling a bit and it wasn’t nice getting up this morning!

Also, at the same time as being pleased for beating my previous time, I was slightly disappointed: my pace for every kilometer up to 19km was between 4m41s per kilometer and 5m26s/km and I was pretty much dead-on completing it in 1h46m… In the last two and a bit kilometres, however, my body faltered and my pace reduced quite a bit to around 6mins/km. From then it was all psychological and pushing myself to get to the end.

But still, I suppose this can be my next goal for the Porto Alegre half marathon which happens at the end of June. It looks to be a hillier course for that race, however, so it might be tougher, but hopefully it should go alright.

Medal ceremony with Lourenço! Photo: Lourenço Alcimar

Medal ceremony with Lourenço! Photo: Lourenço Alcimar

buenosaires-natBuenos Aires is a wonderful city, and a welcome escape from São Paulo – and going to the San Telmo market on a brisk morning is certainly one of the highlights.

 

Dare you to walk over to that ridge...

It has been a good year and a half since we officially started working to this project; a good couple of years or more since we came up with the ideas. A lot of things have happened and a lot of things will still be done. It goes without saying that without  sponsorship, the more ambitious parts of the projects, the Poles, will simply not be possible – the whole logistics of these parts would be prohibitively expensive. But, in cutting down our daily expenses on little luxuries; spending less money going to restaurants, more time training and building the project, we have been able to do a lot more than we ever could have imagined that we would do prior to committing ourselves to this, and we still will be able to do a lot more.

Riding through the snowWorse case scenario and it doesn’t work out (yes it’s a worry!), we still will have opened up a completely new world of adventure and sports that we wouldn’t have done otherwise. If we hadn’t committed ourselves to this… goodness knows what we would be doing, but am pretty sure that we would not have gone mountaineering in Bolivia, and am pretty certain we would not have ridden from Land’s End to John O’Groats in winter. We probably wouldn’t be going to the gym and be in anywhere as near as good health as we are today, and I doubt that we would be entering into the various races we are going into now. We probably would be just working away, content but not happy with everything, in a standard city life somewhere, wondering what wasn’t quite right.

But fortunately we did come up with this whole mad-cap crazy project, and the world that has been opened to us is incredible. So much to do! Kite surfing (training for the polar training) in June… (hopefully) a two-week adventure race in Chile in February 2014, to be swiftly followed by our polar training at Baffin Island for a few weeks in February-March 2014… followed by either another mountaineering expedition or a traverse of the Greenland ice-cap (something that no Brazilian woman has ever done, as far as I have seen, so Natalia will be the first!)… exciting stuff! And then off… in August 2014.

The question is, do we wait a year longer if we can’t get sponsorship, or just go anyway on a round-the-world bike ride…? that is a good question and one that I do not yet know how to answer.

Opening upA shop lady sets up the outside of her stall in the morning along one of the colourful roads in the centre of La Paz. Plenty of neighbours competing to bring in the commerce from the tourists who stumble across the street and the number of people going along the street goes up massively as the day progresses.

 

 
The Loch of Butterstone just perfectly smooth with the foothills of the Cairngorms behind it on a still winter’s day in Scotland.

 

The Train Cemetary - BoliviaThe Train Cemetery in Bolivia, where trains are sent to rest and rust away at the edges of the Salar de Uyuni salt flats.

 

Huayna Potosi, with its summit under cloud - quite daunting!

Huayna Potosi, with its summit under cloud – quite daunting!

It has been almost a year since our first major training project, mountaineering in Bolivia, and I am very definitely missing it all and would love to go back. I don’t know what it is exactly – I must confess that I did not enjoy every minute of it; I got pretty sick for a couple of days; I must have lost a good few kilograms of weight going up those mountains; the fear of heights and looking down those steep steep drops… those 1,500metre falls just inches to one side, and those 500metre drops just inches away on my other side… nope, those knife-edge ridges were not nice! Mountaineering certainly leads to a lot of suffering if you ask me, especially when you are adapting for the first time to the high altitudes; your body just isn’t used to it and doesn’t know what to expect. Looking back at the video when I got sick and remembering back, and the change in my own physical state from good and enthusiastic, to vomiting and other nasty things, is too alarming to think about; literally in an hour or so!!

But I miss it, and I look at the photos and videos – even the one when I got sick – and the good memories of it all easily outweigh the difficult parts.

Why..??!

I guess all the moments which were hard were all balanced by the exhilaration of the challenge; really going for a goal that I had never done before but had wanted to do, and in facing some of my worst fears; going against the exhaustion with the altitude and the fatigue that the lack of oxygen causes in the body; managing to get to the summit and (more importantly!) back again… definitely amazing feelings. Seeing the tents of base camp, after 15 hours of climbing from midnight, just as the weather closes in… a superb sense of accomplishment. So I really do want to go back.

When will we be able to? Good question. I thought about it for this June, but we really do need to train for the kites, so we are going to Fortaleza for training with that for a week or so. Then we will have to keep working to keep income in for paying for this whole project; a month or so training up in northern Canada in February next year… meaning that may be possible next June or July – this would be the last chance before heading on the actual journey… so here’s hoping.

Waste by the Brooklyn BridgePassing by the Brooklyn Bridge just days after Hurricane Sandy struck New York. The rubbish of all the waste caused accumulating in the sidewalks.

Galapagos cliffs

Nazcar Boobies at the Galapagos, grooming each other by the cliffs in the midst of a massive amount of neighbouring wildlife . It is difficult to even walk without having be careful to put a foot on an iguana basking in the sunlight or a boobie nest in the middle of the path.

Galapagos - SantaFe001

The wildlife on the different islands of the Galapagos is fascinating and abundant, with each island having their own unique environments. The Land Iguana of Santa Fe island will be found nowhere else.

By the frozen river, Haerbin, northern China - hoarfrost clings to the trees as warm vapour freezes over night onto their branches. The river to the side is frozen solid in the -40C environment.

By the frozen river, Haerbin, northern China – hoarfrost clings to the trees as warm vapour freezes over night onto their branches. The river to the side is frozen solid in the -40C environment.

Banff-Jasper011

 

Going on to the Columbia ice field feels like going to the moon, jumping on and off these fantastic buggies with huge wheels and on to this freezing cold, alien world on the glacier coming down from the plateau…