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August 8th, 2013

Less than 24 hours to go!

All packed up now and it is incredible how much can fit in one bag! With knowledge that everyone has set off, some in Delhi some even in Leh already, I definitely feel like I am last to leave, I’d love to see if anyone else has gone as camera crazy as me, however,  as the Media and Communications Manager I feel it is my responsibility to! I have even printed a lunar chart so I know what time and night will be best for stars. As the weather stands at the moment, it will be the 13th of August, which is when we are set to be camping on the shore of Lake Pangong Tso. This body of water is shared with China and will be the farthest east we travel, some 30km from Leh itself.

I have also just found out that the food on the trip will be vegetarian, following mostly Tibetan traditions as Leh is partially influenced by Tibetan/Nepalese culture.  I thought it’d be interesting to take a before and after picture of myself; Before whilst at home, and then after having two weeks in the mountains hiking, cycling and rafting in the summer sun but freezing nights, and the whole time having a very different diet to normal!

Our team is much smaller than Antarctica nearing around 25 including leaders as opposed to the 70 of us in Antarctica, however that Antarctica team as made up of people from 28 different nations, many more than the Himalayan team! This will help give the expedition a very different feeling!

On our 4 day trek to Sumda Chenmo we will be completely out of contact and without power, heading to a village that has never had electricity. Once there we will be able to see how people have existed in such a hostile environment, with so little, they will be able to teach us so much, we also have a surprise for them as well and I cannot wait!

Being the photographer, 4 days with no power is not a comforting thought, and so I bought myself a solar charger, the one I went for is big enough to charge laptops, meaning it can charge anything! I was worried at first that it would not be worth the rather high cost. But as soon as it arrived I felt out sturdy it was and I saw the little red light glowing, indicating it was receiving sunlight! The comforting knowledge that I will always have power whenever I need it really is priceless.

After testing it’s charge time in the sun, and using it’s internal battery to charge my phone and cameras it was time to pack.

 Here I have laid out all the gear I will have on me whilst trekking, the things that will probably stand out most are the disposable cameras. I am taking these purely because of my experience in Antarctica. Fellow team member Millie Telford from Australia primarily used disposable cameras, when I saw the results I was blown away. Because they aren’t incredibly sophisticated pieces of technology, they’re vulnerable to the elements and actually show the conditions of the environment more, making for very humble but interesting photographs. They also act as a backup in case for some reason I have no power!

All packed up! My day gear fits in my camera bag and a bumbag (fannypack)!

 I can’t believe in 24 hours time I’ll be arriving in Leh, finally getting to meet Paras and see Robert Swan again. I feel like after Antarctica, the Himalayas are the logical next place to visit. They hold similar natural features, remote deserts, towering mountains and enormous glaciers, the difference being the amount of Human life within the mountains. I have seen nature at it’s purest, now I will see nature and man living together.

It is fair to say that the Himalayas are not a conquered wilderness. Unlike the deserts of Dubai or swamp lands of Florida, the Himalayas have stayed as is, and it is mankind that has adapted. On this expedition we will learn how they have done so to last for so long, and question why it has not been like that everywhere.

Oli Wheeldon