WILDHIVE FOUNDER CHARLES HEADS TO THE MOUNTAINS
In May, Wildhive founder Charles headed off on an expedition to reach the summit of Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains, North Africa. Find out why he chose to take on this challenge...
Why did you choose this expedition?
At the age of 52, I have been trying to take my wellness more seriously. This also reflects our mindset at Wildhive. I understand that wellness isn't just about physical fitness but about mental wellbeing too. Feeling more positive by engaging in activity not only helps me to look after myself but also helps me at work too.
Part of my wellbeing drive has been to set myself a challenge - both physically and mentally. And so I have decided I would like to climb Kilimanjaro which is planned for February 2024. In preparation for this, I chose Toubkal as my first high altitude trek.
What preparation do you need for Kilimanjaro?
Kilimanjaro is quite a challenge for someone who has never done anything like this before. High altitude expeditions require a good level of fitness and you need to know how to manage your body at high altitude.
A friend of mine recommended a company called 360 Expeditions. They have been excellent in helping with preparation, planning and organisation. They have recommended some preparatory climbs and Toubkal is the highest mountain in North Africa at 4168 metres. In September I will be taking on the 1000 Lakes trek in the Pyrenees, which is a challenge in itself.
How did you find the Toubkal trek?
The Toubkal trek was as much a mental and psychological challenge as it was a physical challenge. It's not an easy trek, mainly due to the altitude which is challenging on your body and in particular your breathing. This can be managed if the pace is slow and you breath properly and steadily. But seeing what you have to climb each day, knowing that you will be trekking for up to 10-12 hours a day is quite a mental challenge.
What was the highlight of the trek?
There were 6 of us in the party and we trekked for 3 days with a mule to help carry some of the kit. Day 2 was an exhausting climb but we caught our first glimpse of Toubkal. The 3rd day was the push for the summit. We left the refuge at 5am, trekking in the dark over difficult terrain and finally reached the summit at 9am.
Overall the expedition was amazing. Reaching the summit is definitely the highlight of the trek but also to experience the rural areas around Toubkal and the incredible views that surround you was wonderful - you feel on top of the world. There was a fantastic team atmosphere in the group and this really helped us all to complete the trek and accomplish our individual goals.
After we descended, we spent the night in a lovely mountain village (Imlil) before heading back to the bedlam of Marrakesh which is in complete contrast to the time spent in the rural communities.
Taking part in these treks allows you to see some wonderful and remote parts of the world and experience how other communities live which can make you feel quite humble.
Do you have any advice to someone looking to embark on a similar challenge?
Fitness preparation is paramount. Lots of challenging treks in the UK before you embark on a higher altitude trek, such as Toubkal. Invest in a really good pair of walking boots, take a camera and lots of sweet treats to boost your energy on the climb!
Engaging with a company such as 360 Expeditions is essential to ensure you are safe, well equipped and do all you can in preparation of reaching your goal. Their organisation, support and advice was excellent.