PLANNING YOUR OUTDOOR ADVENTURE - A GUIDE'S VIEW

Updated: Jan 27

Spending the time will save you time


Working out where your next adventure destination will be is always exciting. The anticipation and just the thought of doing it can keep you up at night.


Whether it's deep in the jungle, through the desert or scaling a mountain, you need to know what you are up against and plan ahead.


If you decide to join a group, then most of the planning is done for you.


You are given instructions, advice on training and gear, and you are responsible now for getting yourself ready for the task.


But if you are planning your trek or expedition yourself, then careful, detailed preparation and planning will be the difference between make or break.



Remember the 7 P's


Remember the old British Army adage, Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.


Nothing could be closer to the truth when it comes to the outdoors and neglect or complacency in this department can be life-threatening or worse.


I actually love preparing and planning for trips, and whether it's for a personal venture with a mate or two, or a group trek, I like to keep things fresh and normally a little out of the ordinary.


With any adventure, flexibility is the key, and if there is no contingency written into your plan, I personally believe you place too much pressure on yourself or the group.


Working to a tight, restrictive schedule is not the best approach, and you need to think ahead to implement alternatives or options if circumstances change.


There are many factors which are out of your control from dealing with weather, acts of nature, injuries to individual health, fitness and motivation.


Knowing that you have planned ahead, and covered the "what if's", can give you a little peace of mind.



The ultimate office


I often head out with a close friend on simple overnight hikes, which is my preferred office along with being a great place to train.


It is usually during these walks that we plan our future trips, discussing everything from gear to food, what equipment we can split up between us, where we will cache our food drops and also explore new itineraries and challenges.


It's no surprise that many of these brainstorming sessions have actually been transferred into some of the group trips I lead,


Pre-covid, I didn't have the chance to do a lot trekking in Australia, but now I try to do a handful of group trips generally in Tasmania, Northern Territory and Queensland.


Getting out there to research and evaluate the landscape has given me the chance over the years to tweak and make changes and additions to trips which I think make them more exciting or unique.


I remember, many years ago, a mate and I headed out to do the 223 km Larapinta trail from end to end, as I had never been, plus I had always wanted to offer it as an option to trekkers in the future.


We were both short on time, only being able to dedicate 10 days to trekking, which looking back was pretty fast, and could only manage to do it in September, which is also not the optimal time to go, as it is close to the end of the season and getting seriously warm.


We had blistering hot days, but adapted, getting up early, walking until lunch, resting in the shade and then hitting the trail in the late afternoon.


Despite the discomfort, I had one of the best trips and it was an awesome introduction to the Territory.


Obviously there were very few trekkers this time of year, which was superb for us, and we were able to enjoy the most spectacular hill-top campsites to ourselves and truly discover the intrinsic beauty the Larapinta had to offer.


Because we had to push further each day, we couldn't just rely on the trail-head campsites, and were often staying at sites with no facilities.


It required a bit more effort, carrying extra water, but many of these experiences are what I now include in my current itinerary, because they were just too good for people to miss out on.


Plus I added 5 extra days to make it the ideal time-frame and a lot more comfortable.


A friend told me, "be careful, this place gets in your blood", and he was so right, which is probably the main reason I now love heading out there each year.



Dare to change


I take this same approach to the overseas trips, which normally take up most of my time, being away from home, pre Covid, for an average of 200+ days per year.


I can remember the first time I walked into Everest Base Camp (EBC) in 2011. I had climbed many peaks before in Nepal and Tibet, but this time I was headed to EBC to climb Chomolungma, the 'Goddess Mother of the World' or Mt Everest.


I learned a lot on the walk in about the villages, the different route options, chatted with the locals, saw which accomodation I liked best for food, cleanliness and charm and worked out the most comfortable itinerary to get to Everest Base Camp.


I knew that feeling as good as possible above 5000m came down to many factors including hygiene, hydration, good food, a positive mindset, great company and most importantly, acclimatisation.


More than a decade on, I still use the same teahouses today and also get off the main trail, staying in the home of a local Sherpa family. My Sherpa team set up tents in Base Camp for two nights during the climbing season, or a private camp at the base of Kala Patthar in the off-season, which are both rare experiences for trekkers.


Climbing Kilimanjaro is another trip where I gain tremendous satisfaction. I have stood on the summit more than a dozen times now, which is nothing compared to my guides who have lost count, yet I never get tired of it.


There is something magical about standing on the highest freestanding mountain in the world, the tallest point in Africa, looking out across the glaciers, whilst almost being on the equator.


It is a strange sensation.


When I first started studying Kilimanjaro, I could not work out why the success rate was less than 50%. I read a lot of itineraries, and saw that they were too fast, and many companies used the crowded routes. I chose the less travelled approaches, and added extra time.


That was all that was required. A little bit of fine-tuning and applying knowledge and experience from years of high altitude expeditions, and I have the privilege of seeing more than 95% of my guests reaching the summit.



Plan for success


For me, there is no greater feeling than seeing someone succeed.


It doesn't matter if it is a week long walk of the Overland Trail or a 6 week climbing expedition in the Himalayas. The raw emotions and self-pride are priceless and I have been known to shed a tear or two when I see people complete what normally becomes just the start of their journey.


At the end of the day, I think it is important if you are planning your own adventure or joining a group, that you take the time to plan carefully and thoroughly, explore all of your options, and keep it exciting, safe and fun.


For me, I believe it is paramount to give people an interesting and unique experience and particularly when it comes to altitude, a better chance of success through well-planned itineraries, composed by experienced and knowledgeable experts along with a proven understanding of the importance of acclimatisation.


Just don't take shortcuts, or underestimate your journey. It can be full of unexpected surprises and challenges.


Just knowing you have planned ahead will just give you that extra peace of mind.


An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing - Dale Carnegie