Shot for the Day (8 June 2015)



Back in 2003, after completing a 4 month stint as expedition photographer for Raleigh International in Coyhaique, capital of Region XI in Chile, a few colleagues decided that the best way to end the experience was be to trek Torres del Paine, situated at the southern tip of Chile.

Amongst this ensemble, only three of us were foolhardy enough to attempt the full loop and circumnavigate the entire range.  It was April, the very end of the season and all the refugios were being closed down for Winter.  Consequently, we had to carry all of our food with us for the multi-day trek ahead.

Temperatures varied from a comfortable 20 degrees Celsius during the day to a chilly minus 20 degrees Celsius at night.  We restricted our gear as best we could but our packs stilled weight in at just under 35kg each.

The effort, however, was more than worth it, as we were constantly treated to such beautiful vistas as the one above, with not a soul for miles to break the tranquility.  In the end, it took Tom, Bill and I just under 8 days to complete the trek.  I eagerly hope to return and do it once again in the future.

Shot for the Day (22 April 2014)

Ascent of Mount Kinabalu

Long time since my last post.

Over the Easter weekend, I was fortunate to have some time on my hands and ventured over to Borneo (Sabah, Malaysia) to visit Kota Kinabalu and attempt to climb Mount Kinabalu.  After completing the 4095m climb at 5am in the morning, I sat on a freezing summit, a whisker from the equator, to watch the early morning sunrise.

Soon after, I dropped a couple of hundred metres to the start of the highest via Ferrata route in the world, to commence a 1.2km route.  Although this does not sound all that spectacular, when you are almost 4km up, believe me, there are some giddy moments, especially the first part of the route that takes you vertically off the start ledge.

Via Ferrata on Kinabalu

Vi Ferrata on Kinabalu

Alas, I was too busy having fun on the via Ferrata to snap any photos.  Here are a couple of images from other climbers on the route to give you an idea of the experience.



Day 9: Moorudalur to Berufjordor

Woke up the next morning to the sound of rain. Had to pack away a soaking tent which was a bad start. The wind was phenomenal. I was due to meet Dave so had to cycle 8km back up the gravel track. It was very hard so I waved a coach down and loaded the bike on to travel to Egilsstadir. As I left, I heard that there were Country wide warnings about the wind. It was so bad that Campervans and cars with caravans were being warned not to drive. A couple of cars were blown over very close to our route, this made the whole day very intense and the weather was still horrific with terrible rain.

Once we had left the bus we had lunch and aimed to set off again. It was getting really cold and unfortunately I had given Angelique my fleece to take back to UK during the warm sunny spells last week. Fortunately I found a shop to by one and got on the bike to follow route 1 south. Cycled through the valleys but after 25kms it turned into a gravel road. It was very hardcore and still incredibly wet. We had to climb in the rain, going uphill in progressively worse winds. There was a shortcut recommended by locals down a track. She had said it was downhill and easier that way. But it wasn’t. It was uphill and only wide enough for one car – we felt very vulnerable in the teaming rain through thick fog. Rivers were bursting their banks and it was really cold. Everything was wet, it was as miserable as hell. Then we had the issue of descending down a 17% extreme ‘slope’.  It was incredibly steep. Fierce wind, pissing with rain, water and gravel everywhere. We both needed to use brakes all the way down. Dave’s brakes started to fail first and then Julien’s.  We had to stop and tighten both bikes brakes in the torrential rain. As well  as the Hollywood like conditions around us, we also experienced a real movie scene moment. A car stopped with two passengers within it.  One opened the window and just handed Dave a big bar of Cadbury chocolate and then drove off (!). We just stopped and crammed half each. At this point,  Julien was suffering from mild hypothermia. It was very difficult to hold on to the brakes. Dave’s were so bad  that in the end he ended up running down the hill with his bike. It was horrendous. Like a bad horror movie.

We eventually got down to sea level in the East. Looked at map and found a safe place to stay called Berufjordor.  We had to climb 2kms back up the hill to find it but it was dry and warm, we were not in the mood for damp tents and found a lovely hostel. It was very cosy.8 other tourists had passed us on the way up ( 6 Israelis and 2 Dutch) and they had said that they would have the soup on ready for us. The landlady was lovely and offered to wash and dry our clothes. We had a lovely evening, we were both exhausted but enjoyed chatting to our new friends. Got to bed at 2am. Found out at the end of the day that it was the worse rain that the country had experienced all year.

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Events Team
Kids First Trust

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Day 6: Kinnafjall to Akureyri

Woke up to another beautiful day, Julien treated himself to a bit of a lie in. It was still cold but bright always helps.  Broke the tent down.   Set off and headed 55km down the hill towards Angelique’s location.  The head winds were at it again and even though the cycling was downhill it was only possible to reach 8mph, cycling into the winds is heartbreaking and always a challenge .  It was an unrelenting 4 hours. When we met up with Angelique she deduced that Julien needed to lose some kit to make the head winds easier so we had a bit of a turn out and Angelique will be taking 10 kilo’s of stuff and leaving it at the airport on her way out tomorrow.

Currently Julien’s leg muscles look like I imagine Popeye’s would.  Now having a nice meal and preparing to wave Angelique off in the morning. Dave is on his way and is flying out tomorrow although Julien will be heading to Akureyri in the middle of nowhere so it will take a few days to meet up.

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Day 5: Blonduos to Kinnafjall

This morning was a beautiful one to wake up to. Sunny and bright, not words we would have associated with Iceland so far.  The road out of Blonduos was calm and tranquil and we covered about 35-40kms without seeing any traffic. However, this was clearly too good to be true. As we turned a corner we could see a rising valley ahead of us.  Shit! came to mind. It is difficult to put this into words but we could see tiny cars up ahead of us climbing very very slowly. This did not bode well for us lowly cyclists.

We climbed 500 metres higher and higher up the hill. It was grueling and exceptionally tough. As we reached a plateau at the top of the mountain it was still fairly sunny and warm and the scenery was awesome.

As we began to head down towards Varmahlio (a small town housing 120 residents) we could see the massive drop ahead of us and it was a long long long  ride down. The weather was  beautiful and  really warm. We safely reached the bottom and after an amazing lunch  thought ‘life is great’.

Over lunch we looked at the map and saw that we could get 45 km towards our next destination.  Unfortunately our luck was out and the stand on Julien’s bike broke. No stand on a touring bike fully loaded is frankly a pain in the arse as you can’t just stop for a drink. You have to find something to lean it on. This put Julien in a grumpy mood. Then the weather clouded over and it got cold. Our non-stop uphill climbing of only  15km took us a whole  4 hours! We were so high up that we got to the point where there was snow all around us. We were yet again battling strong head winds  and we were freezing cold. Finally we reached the path at the top. We had drunk a lot of water and were very thirsty. The wind chill made it below zero. Julien had full weather gear but Angelique’s full weather kit had one missing in transit so we hailed her a lift down the mountain. Julien camped alone at the top of the mountain and experienced -2 degrees in the tent.  That said it was a beautiful evening with clear skies and the now familiar light nights.

Please support Kids First Trust by sponsoring Julien on his Just Giving Page

Events Team
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020 7841 8955

Day 4: Stykkisholmur to Blonduos

We awoke on Saturday morning having slept well in Stykkisholmur.  After breakfast we had a good review of the map and thought “bloody hell it is gong to be a long way from here to get anywhere useful” so reluctantly we cycled back to Borgarnes. It was another hard ride back and a bit of a detour but was definitely the right decision. The ‘return’ journey seemed harder partly  due to  Julien’s very heavily laden bike and the fact that Angelique’s make-shift  panniers shifted with every notch on the road resulting in us having to stop to re-adjust them after each minor bang. We covered almost 100k back to Borgarnes.

Although this may upset the more adventurous of our followers we elected to take the local bus to Blonduos which is a small seaside town in the northwestern part of Iceland.  Our leg muscles were bulging and the logistics of our kit were getting us down. Approximately 1000 people live in the town and the distance from Reykjavik is about 245 km. The word that sums up our first view of the town was ‘weird’ but we mean that in an eerily endearing way. There is an unusual building that looks a little bit like a pudding bowl with the top lopped off.  There were few people around and the only thing missing from this ‘Omen’ style scene was the tumbleweed. We found a little camp area and stuck the tent up.

Please support Kids First Trust by sponsoring Julien on his Just Giving Page
Events Team
Kids First Trust

020 7841 8955

Day 30: Alta to Repvag

Julien had a really tiring day yesterday but he made it to where he was aiming for, a small village called Repvag.

The weather really improved with loads of sunshine all day.

He started out from Alta and had a huge climb from sea level to the mountain plains at over 500m.

He saw more cycling tourists yesterday than on the whole trip combined!

Julien stopped in for lunch at Skaidi 90 km from Alta. He then decided to aim for Repvag another 70km away.

On the way Julien had to face another long climb and decent to the coast.

He cycled another 50km on the costal road, including a tunnel of 3km through a mountain.

Last night was the first time Julien saw the midnight sun on this trip.

He arrived late at a campsite that he describes as ‘dicey’. But the sun was still shining for first time in a week.

Julien is now only 88km for Nordkapp. He will make a final push on Thursday and if all goes according to plan will arrive at the northernmost point of Europe after 2600 miles!

Here is the Google Map for today – Julien is nearly there!

Please sponsor Julien on his Just Giving page and give your support to the Child’s i Foundation. Thank you!

Day 29: Kautokeino to Alta

The weather picked up a bit on Tueday and Julien cycled on to Alta the biggest city in the area but home to only 7,000 inhabitants

He followed the E6 road to Alta which was mountanious with some pretty tough hills along the way.

The hills were low lying with sharp gradients which is a bit of a nightmare for cycling!

Julien stopped in at Maze for a quick break. It is incredibly expensive in the Finnmark area with a 500ml bottle of coke costing about £3.50!

After leaving Maze Julien hit his favourite bit of tarmac on the whole journey!

He followed a road that hugged a cliff and followed a huge river. Julien said the views were similar to a loch in Scotland and simply stunning.

As the river widened, Julien was surrounded by giant fir trees and it was like being in Alaska.

He says riding along this road was a real highlight of the journey and an absolute joy.

Julien noticed that his back tyre was bearing too much weight and stopped to check it to discover that the tyre had completely worn away  in places.

It would be a major job to stop and change it so Julien cycled on to Alta hoping the wheel would hold out for a few more miles.

On the way Julein passed a frozen waterfull and when he arrived in Alta he could see snowcapped mountains in the distance.

The camspite was on the far side of town another 10km away, but Julien’s tyre held out. On the way Julien saw the first signpost for Nordkapp!

It is too cold to camp now so Julien has been staying in heated cabins with the comfort of a real bed and his own shower!

Unfortunately he has to cycle back to the other side of Alta to reach the nearest cash point which will add 20km to his journey tomorrow.

But after that he will be ready to cycle on to Nordkapp, he should hopefully make it there by Friday!

Here is today’s Google Map. You can sponsor Julien on his Just Giving page. Please also vist the Child’s i Foundation and see if you can help out. Thanks!

Day 28: Enontekio to Kautokeino

Julien had a fairly starightforward day on Monday. He left Enontekio early and cycled towards Kautokeino, the first major town in Norway.

It was a bit of a struggle to get to Kautokeino. It was very cold all day at around 4 or degress with constant wind and rain.

Thankfully when Julien arrived in Kautokeino the weather brightend up.

Julien had an appointment with the Norwegian tourist board and decided to take the rest of the day off to prepare for the final push to Nordkapp.

In Kautokeino he vited Julhs the first silversmith in all of Finnmark.

Finnmark is the home of the Sami people who are like the inuits of the area.

The Jewlers Julien met were Norwegian but learning the Sami culture and they gave him a guided tour of the area.

Julien was hoping to spend some time with the Sami but unfortunately this is the time of year that they begin to migrate.

However, Julien was able to get some great pictures of the area and these will be uploaded to his Flickr page as soon as he can get a good signal on his mobile phone.

Here is today’s Google Map. Please support the Child’s i Foundation by sponsoring Julien on his Just Giving page.