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Oxfam Trailtekkers Ireland – another great event…

With yet another great trailtrekker event in Ireland under our belts Across the Divide is really proud to have beeninstrumental in the conception and management of this iconic event…

See the Team results here…

To find out more about Across the Divides event management skills drop Mark Hannaford an line here mark@acrossthedivide.com

Join the Bobby Moore Fund in Brazil as they help to construct a new school in the remote community

The Bobby Moore Fund raises money for research into bowel cancer.   Stephanie Moore MBE established the Bobby Moore Fund, in partnership with Cancer Research UK, in 1993.   The Fund was set up in memory of Stephanie’s late husband, legendary footballer Bobby Moore, who sadly died from bowel cancer aged just 51.

This September the Booby Moore Fund head out to Brazil for 10 days to to construct a new school in the remote farming community of Corrente.   The original school building collapsed in 2008, and since then the region has been in desperate need of a dedicated school building, including two classrooms, a kitchen and bathroom.  Project Brazil promises to be an incredibly rewarding trip that will provide memories to last a lifetime.

Stephanie Moore MBE, Bobby Moore’s widow and founder of the Bobby Moore Fund, said:   “I have taken part in several Projects and found them to be the most rewarding experiences of my life. The help that is being given in these remote areas is vital for the local people to be able to remain in their village, and the money raised through the participants’ fantastic fundraising efforts is hugely important to the work of the Bobby Moore Fund.”

To book click here.

 

Kilimanjaro – Why Pay More?

As a company we place a lot of emphasis on the safety of our treks, and are not prepared to compromise on the safety of our clients in order to keep our prices in line with other operators who do not offer a product of a similar quality.

We have spent the last 5 years working with our Tanzanian local agent and our medics to bring our Kilimanjaro ascent profile as close to that recommended by the British Mountaineering Council as possible, without making the trip prohibitively expensive. We added an extra 2 days to the itinerary to allow more time for trekkers to acclimatise, and have found that this has greatly increased our summit success rate. We have also changed our staffing ratio from 1 ATD staff member for every 15 participants, to 1 ATD staff member for every 10 participants. We have also worked to become members of the IMEC Partnership for Responsible Travel by meeting the porter protection guidelines set by the Kilimanjaro Porter’s Assistance Project.

Across the Divide does not claim to be the cheapest operator of Kilimanjaro treks, but we do pride ourselves on being one of the safest operators on the mountain. If you are looking at other suppliers who offer a cheaper Kilimanjaro trek than we do. I would ask that you consider the following points before making a decision as to which operator to use:

  1. We take 7 days to summit which is 1 day more than our competitors. This makes us more expensive than those who offer a shorter itinerary; however the additional day allows participants more time to acclimatise and therefore dramatically increases their chances of summiting.
  2. We ascend the mountain using the Rongai Route on the north-eastern side of the mountain which, unlike some of the other routes, retains a true sense of wilderness. The Rongai Route benefits from fewer trekkers (usually one-tenth of those on the Marangu  – or “Coca-Cola” -  trail, which is the route that Classic Tours take) and is generally considered to be one of the easiest of the quality routes on the mountain. We believe that by taking 7 days to climb the mountain via the Rongai Route, we offer the best chance of summiting and are confident that this is the best choice for those looking for a quality Kilimanjaro experience with the least chance of difficulties.
  3.  We have a ratio of 1 member of ATD staff per 10 participants. Any staff we send on Kilimanjaro treks have prior altitude experience. This helps to dramatically reduce the risk of serious injury or death due to altitude related illnesses. We also carry a fully-equipped high altitude medical kit inc. oxygen and a Gamov bag, which allows for the immediate treatment of life-threatening cerebral and pulmonary oedema, reducing the risk of death. I would clarify the situation with regards to  other suppliers participant-to-staff ratio and their use of “volunteer doctors”.
  4.  We have a 100% safety record on the mountain, even with some incidences of serious illness, including one participant who had a suspected heart attack at 5,600 metres.  Our doctors have saved the lives of people trekking with other operators that did not have the same high level of support.  We believe we offer the highest level of medical support should you fall ill on the trek.
  5.  Our summit success rate for 2011 is 93%, with 97.5% of trekkers reaching Gilman’s Point (on the rim of the volcano). 2 of our trips this year have had a 100% summit success rate: the average for Kilimanjaro is just 42%. We believe that the quality of our staff and the time we have built into the itinerary for acclimatisation contribute to our high success rate.
  6.  We care about porter protection and we ensure that local staff are paid a fair wage.  We are proud to be a member of the International Mountain Explorers Connection’s Partnership for Responsible Travel Program which recognizes those tour operators committed to fair treatment of Kilimanjaro porters. I note that not all operators are not a member of the porter protection / responsible travel programme.
  7.  We use a local agent with 30 years’ experience.
  8.  Our groups fly into Kilimanjaro Airport, saving 7 hours of overland transfers.  This means that participants have more chance to recover from their longhaul flight before starting the trek, leading to a better chance of summiting.

We strongly believe that budget is not necessarily best when it comes to climbing Kilimanjaro. Whilst we could reduce our costs by losing the acclimatisation days, reducing our staffing levels, using a local agent who does not meet porter protection guidelines, and so on, we will not compromise on the safety of our trekkers, and feel that we offer a quality, ethical trek at a reasonable cost.

Book your trip of a lifetime to Kilimanjaro with Across the Divide

 

 

Children in Need’s Rickshaw challenge with Across the Divide

We are delighted to announce that we are working on a fantastic new event, The One Show Rickshaw Challenge for BBC Children in Need, launched this evening.

ATD will of course making sure Matt Baker from The One Show has all the support he needs as he cycles the rickshaw from Edinburgh to London.

Matt will embark on his arduous journey on the morning of Friday 11th November from Edinburgh Castle Esplanade and will attempt to complete the marathon 484 mile journey to the BBC in London, finishing live on The One Show’s Children in Need special on Friday 18th November on BBC One.

The One Show will go live to Hawick on Friday 11th November, the first stop in Matt’s Rickshaw Challenge. The programme will greet him live on air every weeknight as Matt crosses the finishing line at each location. Every day viewers will be able to follow Matt’s progress online at the BBC Children in Need website www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey and on Twitter at @BBCCiN, @bakermattbaker and #CiNrickshaw, as he travels onwards from Hawick to Hexham, Barnard Castle, York, Lincoln, Peterborough, Cambridge and finally London.

Throughout the challenge, Matt will be picking up passengers along the way, these will be a variety of surprise guests and Children in Need’s very own Pudsey. He will brave the harsh winter elements and battle steep hills, to cycle his rickshaw for up to ten hours each day and burn up to 9000 calories daily.

Route Summary

Day 1 Edinburgh to Hawick 53.5 Miles

Day 2 Hawick to Hexham 59.2 Miles

Day 3 Hexham to Barnard Castle 49.0 Miles

Day 4 Barnard Castle to York 70.6 Miles

Day 5 York to Lincoln 78.0 Miles

Day 6 Lincoln to Peterborough 73.2 Miles

Day 7 Peterborough to Cambridge 41.0 Miles

Day 8 Cambridge to London 59.3 Miles

We are delighted to be involved in this event we’ll be updating our social media outlets and blog on a regular basis to follow their progress.  Good Luck Matt and all the ATD team.

To Donate £5, text “MATT” to 70705, texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message, £5 will go to BBC Children in Need.  Go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey for full terms and conditions You must be over 16 and ask the bill payer’s permission.

Everest Marathon part 4 – Altitude

With a busy events season now drawing to a close and October striking, we are drawing a deep breath, and setting our sites to focus hard on marathon training for the next month.

Our last week has been spent in Ireland and between family commitments and catching up with friends, we’ve managed a couple of runs in the Mourne mountains, Co.Down  and Connemara, Co.Galway. Nice to change things up a bit and with distances progressing nicely it is looking more likely that the distance is achievable. Another factor, largely out of our control that will undoubtedly affect our performance on the day but hopefully not forbid our participation is altitude.

The main difference between running the Everest Marathon and a marathon in the hills of the UK is the effect of altitude. The higher you go, the air is less concentrated and so there is less oxygen. With less oxygen available, your lungs and heart have to work harder, and without proper acclimatisation serious illness, or worse, can result.  The effect of altitude starts to become noticeable for most people from around 2500 metres (approximately 7000 feet plus). With the Everest Marathon starting at 5000 metres (over 16000 feet) it is going to be very hard work even though we should be well acclimatised!

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Everest Marathon blog – part 3

Hello All,

Back for a quick update. Training continues to go well – battered out 16miles in the Chilterns today, so hopefully on track. Starting to consider giving up booze (poor will power on that one so far), giving up coffee (even worse will power), sorting out nutrition (eating as much as possible) and getting plenty of sleep (that’ll be the day working in the events world!), all in the name of training.

Just a bit of info on our fundraising! This wasn’t really our main priority in setting ourselves the goal of running the Everest marathon – more the lust to travel and have an achievable goal ahead to train for. Neither Patrick nor I really enjoy sticking our necks out and asking for cash, but Bufo ventures (the Everest Marathon organisers) recommended setting up a Virgin money giving page and we thought we would give it a go! The result has been astonishing and we have been both overwhelmed by people’s generosity and support of our endeavours and three very worthwhile causes.

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Trekker of the month – Alan Chamley

Alan is our trekker of the month.  He is a truly inspirational man he has taken part in three overseas challenges and has never let his disability get the better of him.

  • What made you want to do a charity challenge

The chance to travel to places that I had not considered before.  I’d never been beyond package holidays.  To go to the Sahara Desert, then Namibia, was something other people did.  With Iceland, lots of people will say it’s a place they would visit,  though most just don’t get around to it. 

  • How many have you done

Three

  • Which was your favourite?

They are like children; I like each for different reasons, and can’t really choose.  I guess the first is extra special.  Namibia, where we built school playground equipment and took part in some school classes, had the special element of giving help to a community.       

  • Which charity did you raise funds for and reasons why

RP Fighting Blindness – the charity’s main purpose is to raise funds for research into finding cures and treatment for the eye condition retinitis pigmentosa, which I have myself.  The Charity also focuses on information and support to individuals and families affected by RP, via its Helpline service, for which I do a weekly session. 

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Everest Marathon blog part 2 – The Trek and Race Day itself!

It’s been about one month since our previous blog and, despite being away working on various cycling events overseas, training has been going well! We have completed training runs locally in the Chiltern hills and slightly further afield, enjoying the UK’s many varied mountain areas e.g Brecon Beacons training run (see image). I thought I would take the opportunity to tell you a little more about the Jiri to Namche Bazaar trek and the Everest Marathon route itself.

In early Nov Patrick and I will set off ahead of the main Everest Marathon pack (possibly the only time that we will be ahead of them!) and get a rickety bus from Kathmandu to Changma and trek from Jiri  to Namche Bazaar. In Namche we will meet the rest of the gang who will have flown Kathmandu to Lukla.  The Jiri to Namche trek will take 8 days and should be excellent training as it traverses the valley systems of the lower Khumbu and therefore provides lots of ups and downs! View the route.

By the time we reach Namche  we will be at 3440m and will have an acclimatisation day before setting off on the trek to Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Lakes. View the route.

Finally, on 2nd Dec 2011 we will attempt the 26 mile run from Gorak Shep back to Namche Bazaar and hopefully the Everest Marathon shall be complete! View the route  .

From there it is a flight from Lukla back to Kathmandu for fine dining and a knees up before flying home, well…..that’s the plan anyway.

Why book with Across the Divide

We know that price is almost everything in this day and age and we understand that, but we are not budging on our values.   We have very high safety standards which means that we are not always the cheapest option, but we are one of the safest. We endeavour to have a UK medic on every trip, and provide up to date medical equipment and the latest in technologies out in the field.  We never compromise on our safety standards and we hope you’ll take this into account when choosing your overseas or UK challenge operator.

We recently asked a few key clients why they booked with us and these were some of their responses…..

  • You are very trustworthy
  • We know how much you value safety on the treks and appreciate the importance you place on this (i.e. a doctor on all treks, taking an extra day to ensure everyone gets to the Kili summit etc)
  • You help us to create the itineraries that we want and that sell so well to our corporate supporters.
  • Your in-country partners are usually fantastic
  • You send great teams of Expedition Leaders, Guides and Doctors on our Challenges – who pretty much always get excellent feedback from participants.
  • Your office staff are very responsive – I feel we have an excellent relationship and that you always get back to us promptly and add value wherever you can.
  • All of you are very friendly, approachable and experienced.
  • You really look after our participants well 
  • You are a small but committed team and we really appreciate that and the fact that we know you all – we know who to speak to about which element of the trek and appreciate getting the same familiar (expert!) voice 
  •  The knowledge that we have a fully qualified doctor who is trained to deal with emergencies in extreme environments is a huge comfort when taking 40 supporters of the charity abroad.
  • The ATD trip leaders really take all the stress and pressure off the charity staff members.  They run the projects extremely efficiently and are excellent at dealing with all situations whether it is an emergency or dealing with difficult participants.  The support provided at the information evening is also hugely appreciated and really helps to reassure any nervous or high maintenance participants.

So if you are speaking to your current overseas challenge supplier make sure you check about UK staffing ratios, if they supply a medical kit and what’s in it, and if a UK Doctor is on the trip.  These are key values which we know our clients appreciate over cost.

In Praise of Porters! By Claire Langford AKA…ATD Travel Writer

Those of you who have taken part in any of our high altitude treks will know the feeling: you’re short of breath, legs feel like lead, and you’ve slowed to a mere shuffle. Then a group of porters pass you, carrying at least four times the load that you are, yet moving at four times the speed!

The work that porters do is often key to the success of a trek, and yet not all operators recognise this. On Kilimanjaro in particular, local crews carry loads of up to 25kg up the mountain, before pitching tents, setting up the dining tent and catering area, collecting and boiling water and preparing a hearty meal for the trekkers.  They often still find the energy to sing and dance, to welcome the group into camp!

At Across the Divide we are committed to the fair treatment of porters on Kilimanjaro, and work closely with our local agent, Good Earth Tours, to improve the working conditions of porters on the mountain and ensure that they receive a fair wage for their work. We are therefore delighted to announce that we recently became a Partner for Responsible Travel with the International Mountain Explorer’s Connection (IMEC). IMEC created the Partnership for Responsible Travel Program to recognize those tour operators committed to fair treatment of porters on Kilimanjaro. In order to become a partner you must consistently meet IMEC’s guidelines for proper porter treatment on Kilimanjaro: this is monitored by IMEC’s local initiative, the Kilimanjaro Porters’ Assistance Project.

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