Expedition Behaviour

In 1965 Paul Petzolt, founder of the National Outdoor Leadership School in Wyoming used the phrase “Expedition Behaviour” for the first time.

For him it represented a series of principles which guide the decisions and behaviours of an expedition’s members in order to achieve the maximum across the team with the minimum of stress. By 1974 he’d refined the idea enough to write 17 pages on it in his seminal “Wilderness Handbook” and it continues to be at the core of NOLS courses today.

Expedition Behaviour means being prepared, on time, organized, flexible and humble; seeing the humor in everything; exercising a tolerance for adversity, uncertainty and discomfort; and putting the needs of the group and others on the same level or above one’s own needs. Some people do it instinctively, others take a while but eventually, given the reality that wilderness places in front of us, almost everybody gets it.

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Hiding in the bushes?

We’ve been in North Wales all day, whittling sticks, chopping wood and building shelters as part of a stone soup bush craft session based at Boulder Adventures. Everybody has brought along ideas and we’ve shared them, improving practice and making all of us safer. Claire (above) seemed rather attached to her shelter and didn’t want to come out.

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10 years to save the world : Responses

I recently posted an open letter to my friends call “10 years to save the earth”. I got a number of repsonses, the ones that kept me most amused are below.

Anna had more pressing concerns:

“10 years? The end of the day seems like a lifetime away at the moment :) Glad to see you’re keeping us all on our toes, though!”

Alia was looking towards leadership (I think):

“There seems to be two parts to doing stuff – doing stuff and handling the communication needed. Will have a think.”

Adam posted it in his blog saying:

“an extremely thought provoking and memorable email” adding “Got me thinking…”

Other Blogs to Enjoy

Howies Brainfood rss-feed-icon-14x14

Howies not only make really good quality clothing but their blog “Brainfood” is filled with little snippets of information that are both interesting and informative. No long essays, just a drip drip drip of environmentalism, outdoor life, sports and clothing.

The Cleanest Line rss-feed-icon-14x14

Written by the employees, friends and customers of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Since it’s employees include Lynn Hill and Yvon Chourinard as well as some leading environmentalists and outdoor writers it is nearly always a great read.

Paul Deegan rss-feed-icon-14x14

Paul Deegan is a mountaineer, presenter and journalist who posts thoughtful views on living and working in the outdoors. He’s also a dreadful skier.

Life in the Vertical rss-feed-icon-14x14

Mark Reeves is a climbing instructor and coach based in North Wales. His blog is frequently badly spelled and some might find his choice of language offensive but it does provide a good insight into making a living in the outdoors.

Kit Up rss-feed-icon-14x14

Inspiration and information can come from the most unlikely source. This blog, subtitled “Warfighters, show us your gear” contains posts about equipment useful to soldiers. Frequently though, soldiers want the same as outdoor people, tough, light, effective gear that does the job. It’s worth keeping an eye on simply to see what our camouflaged brethren are using to do similar things.

Ever Been Lost?

compass_handHave you ever been lost? In the hills? In the city? Underwater? In your own mind?

Jamie Neal has. Christopher Columbus has. Macaulay Culkin has.

We’d love to hear your story, comment below or mail me.

Fortune Cookies and Climbing Mountains

On the Three Peaks event I ran for Evolution Services this weekend I spent some time talking to one of the participants about the feeling of achievement that comes from climbing a mountain. This feeling is very satisfying, often represents real learning and, importantly from a trainers point of view, impossible to fake.

There is no way in the world that moving some barrels and planks around on a patch of grass to cross a ‘river’ marked out with ropes can ever compare to building a pontoon to cross a real river. Read More »

The Dirtbag Diaries Podcast

If any of you regularly listen to podcasts I can’t recommend Thedirtbag_diaries Dirtbag Diaries enough. Fitz Cahall introduces and narrates these short journeys into outdoor life.

From tales of accidents and examples of extreme courage to silly stories and beginners luck, Fitz does a great job of getting to the soul of the outdoor person. He comes closer than most to explaining why we go into the hills or onto the river and push ourselves beyond our comfort zone. Read More »

Quotation: Andy Kirkpatrick

“This is what I love about friendships, especially climbing ones. You never know where they might lead. One day someone’s a stranger, another they hold your life in their hands.”

Andy Kirkpatrick

Training for the Unexpected

This 2002 obituary for Goran Kropp, the Swedish adventurer and mountaineer contains this passage which describes how he prepared himself for the unexpected.

“While doing his national service in a Swedish infantry regiment, he trained for Alpine climbing expeditions by sleeping in a gravel pit. His tough, self-imposed programme included setting his alarm clock at random: if he woke at 3am he would walk 30km in full combat gear; if he woke at 6am, he would walk 60km. “I wanted to get used to living with the unexpected,” he said.”

The rest of the obituary further emphasises how dedicated this man was to both adventure and minimal impact techniques.

“Kropp aimed to tackle each expedition “in harmony with nature”, without support and leaving no trace of his passing. “It is important for me to leave nothing behind me on a mountain,” he said.”

You can read the rest of the obituary on the Telegraph website.

Photo from MountainZone.com.

What have you Bruised Recently?

We’ve just spent the weekend surfing at Saunton in North Devon. Blue skies and clean waves were conspicuously absent but we did have a lot of fun. I’ve never been board surfing before and I’ve got a new found respect for those whsq_surfo make it look so effortless and easy.

Returning home on Sunday night I realised I was covered in bruises. There is the one on my back from falling off the board into 4 inches of water after I misjudged how far ashore I had come.  I’ve got one around my left ankle where my leash pulled tight after I let go of my board while wading out. The one on my chin is the most visible, caused by throwing myself forward onto my board with a little too much vigour.

They might make me a little bit sore but I am proud of my bruises. Really proud. They are like little campaign medals and, to me they represent two things. Read More »