Back in August, I posted a story about the Peak to Peak 2014 Expedition, an attempt by adventurers Grant “Axe” Rawlinson and Alan Silva to climb the highest mountains in the U.K. and France, while traveling between those two peaks completely under human power. I’m happy to report that they were successful in their endeavor, and had a heck of an adventure along the way.
The two men began the expedition by first climbing Ben Nevis, a 1344 meter (4409 ft) mountain located in Lochaber region of the Scottish Highlands. If you know anything about Ben Nevis, you probably know that there is a popular tourist trail that leads to the top. But Grant and Alan weren’t planning on taking that route. Instead, they wanted to go off the beaten path, and scale the North Face of the mountain, which actually requires some technical rock climbing to complete. Unfortunately, a late start didn’t allow them the time to go that intended climb however, so they elected on an alternate route known as the CMD arete. This wasn’t as technical, but did involve quite a bit of rock scrambling instead.
After successfully reaching the highest point in the U.K., the two men climbed aboard their bikes the following day, and started to ride south. They peddled their way through the Scottish Highlands, past Glencoe Valley, into Glasgow, and eventually across the border into England itself. Their cycling journey continued through the Yorkshire Dales, in and out of quaint little English villages, and includes a fair share of stops at popular pubs along the way.
Eventually, the duo arrived in London, where the next phase of the journey would begin. They had to face the daunting task of crossing the English Channel, which they did by kayak, although there was a hitch. French regulations prohibit paddling across the channel, to Grant and Alan completed most of the journey under their own power, then boarded a support ship to take them across a French shipping channel so that they would be compliant with the rules and regulations. This was a 5-6 mile stretch of water, which prohibited them from making the entire journey under their own power. While it is okay to swim across the English Channel, the French don’t want any unseemly paddlers coming to their shores.
Once safely in France, they returned to their bikes and started their ride towards the Alps, and Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe. It took them 8 days to do so, following back country roads, as they were not allowed to cycle on the main highways. They once again enjoyed scenic, pastoral, countryside, along with inviting French villages, good food, and lovely places to stay.
By the time they arrived in Chamonix, and were preparing for their final challenge – a summit of Mont Blanc – the boys were starting to run out of time. They had set aside just 24 days for the entire expedition, and they had been on the road for more than 18 already. They needed good weather, and some luck on their side, if they hoped to complete the Peak to Peak adventure on schedule.
Climbing the mountain would take a couple of days, as they made the ascent in traditional Alps fashion, going hut-to-hut, until they could launch a final push to the top early one morning. A successful summit came later in the day, and Grant and Alan would eventually descend back to Chamonix with their mission accomplished.
I have given you just a brief overview of the journey. If you really want to hear what it was all about, you should read the full account that Grant posted to his website. It contains far more details and good information for anyone who would like to make a similar expedition in the future.
Congratulations to Axe and Alan on competing this adventure. It is a good example of what is possible when you have just a few weeks vacation to play with, but want to do something adventurous, without requiring a lot of money. This is definitely an inspiration to adventurers everywhere.
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