Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas and I really love that some people do this to their houses!!  I think perhaps this person’s passion for Christmas lights on their house is about on a par with my passion for the mountains and adventures in general.

I probably wouldn’t do this to my house, but I really love that this person has and that I’ve been able to enjoy it.

Even though a lot of people wouldn’t climb mountains (or jump off them!) I hope that when I share my adventures they are as eye opening and give as much energy, delight and amusement as this spectacularly lit house gave me when I drove past it!

Merry Christmas Everyone…

Love Squash! xxx

 

Check out these three!

One of the things that I really enjoy in my life is all the different people that I get to meet. I wanted to share these three with you…

Dave Cornthwaite

I was introduced to Dave via email back in February and we finally managed to meet up a few weeks ago. Dave skate bordered from Lands End to John O Groats, he then skate bordered across Australia – obviously! and after that he came up with a really incredible plan, Expedition 1000. Dave plans to raise a million pounds for charity by undertaking twenty-five separate journeys in excess of 1000 miles in distance, each using a different form of non-motorised transport.

He’s just returned to the UK after paddling 2404miles, the entire length of the Mississippi, on a Stand Up Paddleboard!

I saw Dave speaking in London last week – he’s very entertaining and totally inspiring.

And as far as I’m concerned, anyone who has a cup of tea while on their Stand Up Paddleboard is cool!

Dave having a cup of tea on his SUP! Cheers!

Check Dave out – www.davecornthwaite.com


Simeon

I was at the London Ski Show a couple of weeks ago and I saw Simeon in the distance. He was on a stand and next to him was a jumper with a huge pocket on the front of it, a huge pocket – with a very big button! I didn’t have a clue who he was, I’d never seen him in my life before but I instantly liked him… so I walked over and introduced myself.

Turns out Simeon was not only the designer and maker of the jumper with the huge pocket… but also the creator of many other fabulous things! His tag line is ‘getting away with it since 1981’ which I especially love because that also happens to be the same year I’ve been getting away with it since!

I don’t think I have the words to do Simeon justice – he’s simply spectacular… I mean look this picture of him. It’s on his blog and underneath it he’s written, ‘If i ever had to get a brief case it would be a lot like this’.

Effortlessly so cool!

This is where you will find the Jumper with the huge pocket – www.bantum.co.uk

Julie Summers

People sometimes ask me what I think about Mallory & Irvines expediton. Do I think that they made it to the top of Everest in 1924 before they tragically died on the mountain? I generally answered with a lot of ‘hmmmms’ and ‘maybes’… that was mostly because I didn’t really know that much about the expedition, certainly not enough to give my opinion on it anyway. (It surprises some people to hear that I am not very well read on Everest or many mountains really. But after reading ‘Into Thin Air’ I decided that I would read more about mountains when I was no longer climbing them. If you have ever read ‘Into Thin Air’ you’ll perhaps understand that such a book might put you off ever climbing a big mountain, I want to climb with an open mind… and without the kind of fear such a book can give you).

Anyway, a friend saw in the local paper that Julie Summers was speaking that evening and perhaps I might be interested in going to the talk. Julie Summers is Sandy Irvine’s great niece. She’s also an author, a broadcaster and a historian. About her talk, ‘Everest needs you, Mr Irvine’, she says, “although I cannot supply the answer to the question of whether Mallory and Irvine reached the summit of Mount Everest in 1924, I can take people on a journey of discovery, after which they can form their own opinion”.

I went to the talk. It was fantastic.

I met Julie briefly in the interview and she signed the book I bought to read for when I’ve retired! If you ever get chance to hear this lady speak, about any subject, definitely go. She’s a fabulously captivating speaker.

This is her book.

Julie Summers book about her great uncle - Sandy Irvine

Julie’s website is – www.juliesummers.co.uk

Let’s all do Yoga!

As far as I was concerned Yoga has always been something other (more flexible!) people did. Hippies do it, people travelling and ‘finding themselves’ do it, people in India and visiting India do it, cool people do it and spiritual people do it. Then I started to realise every type of person was doing it… and I tried it and I loved it! Really loved it.

That was a year (or two ago). You see Yoga, for the beginner at least, requires that you go to a class, going to a class means that you go to a yoga centre and that is usually much easier if you are in one place for a length of time. My problem is I never seem to be anywhere for any significant length of time. However, I signed up for a taster course and I did about 8 sessions and I really liked it. Then I was on the move again and Yoga took a back seat.

Here I am pretending to do Yoga - for those of you in the know, yes - the pose is completely wrong!

However, just a few weeks ago I was in Vancouver visiting my smallest friend (she’s 3ft 7!) and she was looking in possibly the best shape I’d ever seen her in and was incredibly happy. I asked her what was going on and she just smiled and said, ‘yoga mate!’. I was travelling (with a slightly taller friend) who is also looking utterly fabulous at the moment and guess what? She’s doing it too! So the three of us (in height order – I’m the tallest by a few feet!) went to yoga together. Bikram Yoga.

I was pretty terrible in my first class, but the second was so much better and very quickly I realised Yoga is possibly one of the best things (I think) we can do for our bodies.

So many of the sports we do are high impact and have some kind of damaging effect as well as a positive fitness effect. Take running for example. Great for fitness but not so great for your knees, hips and back. Don’t get me wrong here, I like running…. I’m just aware that with Yoga it seems I’ve found something that conditions and strengthens without any negatives.

I would recommend it to everyone, of all heights! I think that it compliments every other sport you do and even though I struggle to regularly be anywhere for any significant length of time I’m going to do as much Yoga as I can.

Shardlow Primary School

I went to Shardlow Primary School to give a presentation and talk to the children about my adventures. The whole school attended so the age range was from 4-11. I’ve never had such a young audience and I loved the reactions and questions, especially from some of the younger ones! My favourite question was probably ‘Do mountains break?’…

Me with some of the children

I asked the children to design a poster that showed what their dream was. It was tough to do but I have narrowed it down to 7 posters that are now on my facebook page and the one with the most ‘likes’ will win a prize. To see the final 7 and vote please go to my facebook page.

Facebook page – Squash Falconer

Below are a few of the finalists – I thought this one was very clever!

A very well thought out poster!

This one is also one of my dreams…

This dream must be shared by millions!

And someone was obviously listening when I said what I was doing next!

Maybe this young man can join me on my trip??

Ready to go!

I’m all packed and ready to go,  I’m still 22kgs over!  However, I’m going to wear my boots (and look really cool at the airport and on the plane) then that’ll make me only 21kgs over – so it’s not too bad afterall!

Packed and ready to go...

I’ve been receiving some lovely cards/messages and words.  The support I have had, not just for this trip, but all my life really has made everything that I do possible… and without going into a big long speech I simply want to say thank you to everyone who has played a part.

So Squash, ‘What has been the biggest challenge so far?’…

Lets hope it isn’t 21kgs of excess baggage!!

 

 

Knickers, Emails & Packing Chaos!

So the big question – How many pairs of Knickers does one take on a trip to climb Mt Everest???

The answer – One pair for each day, obviously!  That’ll be 60 pairs then!

60 pairs of Knickers!

As you can see from the photo there’s a very splendid pair of knickers that I’ll be taking with me.  ‘My Everest Pants’!  These knickers were a present from a lovely friend.  I received them in the post a few weeks ago and was utterly delighted! I’ve worn them once just to try them for size, the next time I put them on I’ll be attempting to summit Mt Everest!

My Everest Pants!

Despite having the best intentions in the world to get my packing done well in advance, as usual it’s come down to the last minute.  I’m always the same with packing for a trip though.  It doesn’t matter if I have a day, a week or a month – I’m always packing, re-packing and then re-packing some more right up until the moment I have to leave.

I’ve spent the last few days spreading my kit all over the house, today was a good day, I managed to get it all into one place!

All my kit for the trip!

I even managed to do a ‘test pack’ into my bags.  Thought I’d better check how I was doing on weight.

I have a luggage allowance of 23kg for my hold luggage and 7kg for my hand luggage. A combined total of 30kg.

Not sure how I’m going to get away with my three bags – one weighs 24kg, one weighs 18kgs, and my hand luggage weighs 10kgs.  A combined total of 52kgs.  How do you hide 22kgs?  Hmmmmm….

Between counting knickers and packing my kit I’ve been busy with emails/blogs and all the online stuff I have to do before I fly to Kathmandu.  I’m leaving in less than 24hrs… so I’d better get on with it!

Busy on my computer...

ExtremeSportsPhoto.com

I feel extremely lucky to have met David Spurdens.  He’s a sports and aviation photographer – a very good one at that.

Dave offered me the opportunity to work with him on a photo shoot a few years ago in the Alps and we’ve worked together ever since.

It’s like a dream job for me – I get to run around doing the things I love and I get paid for the privilege!

Fitting in perfectly with my Everest trainning , just a week before returning to the UK, Dave has been over to the mountains and we were able to get some shots done.

Capturing the perfect running shot can take a whole afternoon.  For me it’s like interval training.  Bursts of sprints along a decided route, then a walk back to the start point to go again… and again… and again, until the shot is just right.

Squash having a lovely run in the mountains!

You may have heard about or experienced for yourself the distinct lack of snow in the Alps this year, the planned ‘skiing powder shots’ became ‘ski posing shots’!…

Skiing/posing it's all the same thing!

In my own experience there has to be a friendship or a certain rapport between a photographer and subject.  I think you can see the difference in the photos.  When I’m smiling or grinning in a shot you can bet 9 times out of 10 it’s because Dave has said something that I couldn’t possibly repeat on this blog!

Going back to School!

Squash Falconer Speaking at OSLA

 

I was really delighted to be asked to return to Ockbrook School, where I spent 15 years of my life, to speak at the Ockbrook School Leavers Association Dinner.

In recent years I’ve reflected a lot about who I am and why I am who I am and there’s no doubt my time at Ockbrook hugely influenced that.

I wasn’t too naughty but it would be misleading to say I was ‘a model pupil’!  I have such happy memories of school.  I really enjoyed thinking back to my time there, especially about the ridiculous antics my friends and I got up to.

Looking back through my old school reports I found things that were written about me when I was 10 that still apply now!  Mrs Holmes, one of my favourite teachers, wrote this –

‘She has a good sense of fun, verging occasionally on the mischievous, which, whilst is entertaining, I hope she never lets get out of hand.’

A story about school -Click on this link to see a short video clip of a story about one of my ‘achievements’ at school.

Squash telling some stories

Looking back through old school books I found my school diary and despite thinking my passion for mountains came when I was older, this entry, written when I was 7 would suggest otherwise. (It also clearly shows what an exceptional artist I was!)

Squash's School Diary 17th October 1988

I get asked a lot why I do the things that I do.  It’s not an easy question to answer but it undoubtedly has a lot to do with being supported in my dreams and being given the confidence to go for them.  There is no question that Ockbrook was an incredible foundation from which I launched myself into the big wide world and why I now have the confidence to launch myself from the top of it!

Squash with Chris Saunders, organiser of OSLA