Kicking off a Yes-Year with a post-pandemic summit!
Sometimes you just have to say YES and that’s how my Mount Toubkal adventure began. A chance Facebook post from mountain leader Jo Bradshaw who guided me up Kilimanjaro 5 years ago, and a split-second decision to email Adventurous Ewe and sign myself up. Happy new year, I’m off to climb the highest peak in North Africa!
When you’re married with kids, spontaneity often feels like a thing of the past. Replaced instead by sensible routines and school term planners. Saying YES gets harder. But the dreaming never stops, so this year I was determined to turn ‘I wish’ into ‘I will’ and make space for some much-needed adventure. An all-woman trek to the roof of the Atlas Mountains and summiting on International Women’s Day – what could be more inspirational?!
The lovely Sue, from Adventurous Ewe (it even rhymes!) was visiting family in Australia when I first wrote. She was warm and welcoming, and upon discovering I was based in Italy (not the UK) was the first to say YES you can come. One YES became two and before I knew it, I was booked on a flight to Marrakech and added to the WhatsApp group of fellow trekkers. Slowly and steadily other ladies trickled in, and the chit chat began. What day is everyone travelling? Where from? What boots to buy? Merino or not to merino? Best snacks? Anyone fancy staying an extra night? YES! And that’s how I came to meet Jo 2, who had also trekked with Jo 1 (the mountain guide) and, wait for it, also with my uncle Phil the medic. Amazing how a simple YES was creating new found links between people who’d never previously met.
As the weeks counted down and we shared tales of our training and preparation, little did we know we were already forming bonds. Bonds that would inevitably become stronger on the mountain and carry us up, and down, together. It’s always daunting to travel with strangers. You never know how things will work out. And I love to share an adventure so the natural next step was to reach out to my favourite aunty Sarah who’d summited Kili with me and convince her to come. She said YES.
I needn’t have worried as from our first moments together our group was one. Twelve women from all walks of life looking for adventure and who had all said YES, we can do it. Motivated by our 2 Leaders Jo and Sue who knew we could do it. Powered on by our Moroccan guides who helped us do it.
There is so much more I could say about this mountain adventure. We shared moments of joy and laughter. Tears of pain and fatigue. We wobbled at altitude and slipped and slided on snow. We ate like our lives depended on it. Shared snacks like lifelong friends. We talked like no tomorrow and lived for the moment (loving the no phone zone!). We rejoiced at the summit and congratulated ourselves on a mission accomplished. And when we got home, and someone mentioned the magic word – reunion – there was a resounding YES from all.
So if you’re wondering if you’ve got what it takes to scale a mountain. The answer probably begins with a YES.