On Friday evening, as most Cranleighans drove off for a much anticipated long weekend’s rest, the India Expedition team extracted themselves from the Upper Fifth parents evening and swapped formal uniform for trekking kit and waterproofs. We met up with Ash, who is to be our leader, and Jo, at a new venue for all of us – the South Downs Bunkhouse near Arundel. The aim was to help forge a team and get in some practical preparation in readiness for our expedition to Ladakh, in northern India, this coming summer.

Over the weekend we looked at a wide variety of skills and equipment, with the team members coming away with a working knowledge of first aid, the likely effects of altitude, what to do if a river has to be crossed and how to use axes and crampons if snow has to be negotiated. Practical issues of hygiene together with reminders about inoculations were addressed and details of the itinerary and the bureaucracy associated with visa applications were revisited. Kit was discussed and a short, if unpleasantly damp bimble, brought to several people’s attention the need for waterproof waterproofs (the clue is in their name) and the inadvisability of wearing jeans.

On a less tangible front it was great to see the team begin to gel and start working together on tasks such as preparing our meals (though I am still not quite sure about diced potato with a rice sauce, served on pasta with undercooked chick peas and a side order of naan….) It is perhaps fortunate that in India we will have a cook to look after us on our trek.

Things are now beginning to get a little real and the beginning of July is creeping up on us.  Everyone has plenty to think about in terms of preparation, both practically and mentally, and there is clearly still a long way to go before we are ready to tackle the dramatic challenge of the Himalaya. However it was abundantly clear after this weekend that we are going to be in very safe hands with Ash and Jo and that come what may, we will have an amazing time in India. Many thanks to the now thoroughly exhausted team and in particular to Ash and Jo for facilitating such a productive weekend.

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