Updated: Feb 22
UPDATE: Competition has now ended, Claire decided to donate $100 to 'Protect Our Winters' and $100 to 'Ancient Forest Alliance' after her winning story titled "Discover yourself with travelling and volunteering" .
At BCV, we are excited to announce our "Venture Series" - short stories and interviews with the aim to inspire, captivate, inform & entertain! Based around the topics of backpacking, exploring, adventure sports or life in a seasonal town.
Venture - "to risk going somewhere or doing something that might be dangerous or unpleasant, or to risk saying something that might be criticized"
To get the ball rolling we want to invite the BCV community to start sharing their stories, with the goal being a weekly segment posted on the website. For your efforts, the winner will have a donation of $200 cad made in their name, to the charity of their choice (must be a fully registered charity / not for profit and accept online donations). Considering we currently have under 150 members there is a good chance you will win!
Rules: the story must be about you, include at least one picture or short video, maximum 1500 words / 5 minute read. A minimum of 10 stories must be entered before a winner is announced, the story with the most shares will win. We plan to publish at least one story every week.
It can be about anything really - epic adventure, leaving a career to do your first ski season, pushing yourself to overcome a fear, hiking in the jungle, or whatever wonderful / uncomfortable / brave thing that happened to you! You may have succeeded, lost, been incredibly lucky, learnt a valuable lesson or laughed at your misfortune - we want to hear it all.
Year / Date
Persons involved / Group size
Pictures / Video
To send in your venture tale for the chance to win $200 cad for the charity of your choice, please either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org , DM us on our facebook page www.fb.com/groups/basecampv or use our contact form.
As an example I'm going to tell you one of my "Venture" stories:
Title: Mont Blanc, Gouter Route
Year / Date: September 2014
Location: Chamonix, French Alps
Persons Involved: me (Jon), my friend Sunny, my wife Julia
Activity: Alpine mountaineering
Story: I was a keen climber when I had moved to Chamonix the previous year, but had minimal alpine mountaineering experience. Mont Blanc looms over the town at 4810m, and I knew I would attempt to climb it. Though not a very technical route, the Gouter can be demanding and dangerous in the wrong conditions.
(Our camp is at 'Tête Rousse' 3100m, the 'Grand couloir' is the most hazardous rockfall crossing, 'Refuge du Goûter' is a hut at 3800m, 'Abri de secours Vallot' is an emergency shelter perched at 4350m, and finally the series of domed false summits before the peak of 4810m)
'Le Grand couloir' (pictured) is the most dangerous part in many ways, it is also worryingly referred to as 'the corridor of death' as ice & rock chunks constantly cascade down this 400m long gully that must be crossed. I was planning to climb the mountain by myself, but as luck would have it an Irish friend called Sunny was eager to join after I told him my plans in the pub. Sunny had never really climbed a mountain before, but that didn't put him off! He had a couple of days experience walking on a glacier with crevasse rescue practice, plus rock climbing skills, so I thought 'good enough'.
In mid September, we had a perfect weather window. Sunny, myself and my wife (she was there for support!) camped at a site called 'la tête rousse' at 3100m, setting up the tents around 4pm.
(arriving at our camp in high spirits, me and my wife Julia are excited to set up the tent)
For the next 7 hours we were hearing constant rock fall hurtling down the mountain, and I remember being fairly petrified by the thought of crossing the gully. Our plan was to leave around 3am to be on the summit for shortly after sunrise, and back down before the heat of the day warms up the mountain too much (often the rockfall is caused by melting ice, especially in late summer). We were lying in our tents trying to get some sleep, but kept awake by the constant clattering of rock fall. Around 11pm we were both thinking we should abort mission, but as the night air cooled the noise stopped. We didn't hear any more after 11pm and ventured forward, leaving camp at 3am, with a full moon illuminating the mountains towering over us.
We crossed the gully safely by 4am, and was on the snowy Goûter ridge by 5am as the sky brightened, feeling good and ready to tackle the long icy ridge. There is a hut that sits at 3800m on the ridge, it was way too expensive for us plus we were confident to go for the summit from our lower camp. I remember both of us feeling fit passing the hut, and overtaking people who had just started hiking 20minutes prior whereas we had been going for 2.5hours already. Essentially we had climbed 700m and had 1000m more to go, easy! Lots of chatter between us, and no doubt in our minds we would make it. We hit 4000m and began to slow down, our steps became more of a deliberate effort, and we took it in turns to set the pace.
(looking down at "l'Aiguille du midi" in first light, shrouded by a stunning lenticular cloud)
One thing no-one mentioned to me about climbing this route is the amount of false summits. Even though I knew the next dome peak was probably not the summit, I was constantly wondering if it was the one after that. At approximately 4,300m you lose some altitude before going up, and this for me was when my motivation began to fade. When I slowed down to a crawl, Sunny would take the lead and not only set the pace, but try to spur me on. When I could see him losing momentum I would take over and find a renewed strength, we leapfrogged like this many times!
Then you get to the ridge with the first proper view of what you are pretty sure is the summit. You don't want to let yourself believe 100% it is the summit, just in case it isn't! 4,500m was when I really felt the altitude affecting my walking ability, and I took each step seriously when the ridge became thin & icy as a slip could be fatal.
(first proper look at the real summit, the final 300m of ascent is slow but encouraging)
We attempted to have some food & drink, but soon discovered the water in our packs was completely frozen, the food was not possible to chew without breaking a tooth, so stuffed a bit inside our jackets in the hope of thawing and on we went. We made it to the summit in clear skies, with just a small amount of wind.
(on the summit in the morning sun, high above the surrounding mountains)
The way down became bitterly cold as the wind picked up, I remember holding the ice axe in my hand that was facing down slope (usually you would want it up slope) simply because it was completely numb and I could not tell if I was holding it or not, let alone using it in an emergency. As we descended, our energy levels picked up fast, and what an incredible feeling it was ! We had so many people ascending asking us how far the summit is, or if the next crest is the summit, we both enjoyed answering the questions and spurring them on.
(resting my legs on the way down after encouraging random teams to keep on pushing)
Getting back to the rocky ridge, you are reminded the most dangerous part of the day was yet to come - having to cross the gully in the late morning sun. On making it to the edge of the gully, we took the time to stop and observe before crossing. Within 20 seconds of waiting, rocks began hurtling down at full speed just meters away from us, all bouncing around head height. We came up with the plan to go one at a time, with the lookout partner shouting one of 3 instructions if they saw rock falling: "back! forward! stop!". Sunny went first and ran across the gully in about 10 seconds, much to the disapproval of a guide on the other side who is trying to teach his clients to move carefully at a deliberate pace. We came down to camp, Julia greeted us with some hot beverages, and we basked in the sun staring up at the Goûter ridge, watching the rocks hurtle down it.
(Ready to head back home, the Goûter hut can be seen clearly in the top right skyline)
In my 17 years of climbing this wasn't the hardest, longest, or most unique trip, but it was one of my proudest. I have no doubt in my mind that I would not have made the summit had I attempted a solo ascent, and even though I believe we approached the mountain with the right amount of preparation, knowledge & safety I do also believe it tested my novice mountaineering skills in all the right ways - I was humbled but motivated to do more. Me and Sunny created a great partnership on the mountain, and that shared understanding is an unbeatable feeling for me!
To send in your venture tale for the chance to win $200 cad for the charity of your choice, please either email us at email@example.com , DM us on our facebook page www.fb.com/basecampv or use our contact form. Join our Facebook Group here