Sometimes I lose sight of how much progress we have made at Earth’s Edge over the last 11 years, but when I think back to when I started in 2007 it always makes me smile. At that time the company was me and my laptop sitting in my parent’s front room waiting for emails and hoping the phone would ring! The economy was in the toilet and at 24 years old it was difficult to build trust with potential clients.
In 2009 I came up with the idea of the Tri-Adventure Expedition. Ladakh is, in my opinion, the best place to trek in the world so it was the obvious choice for the first Tri-Adventure Expedition. When you start any type of travel company the hardest part is getting clients and having failed to get enough people signed up in 2009 and 2010, I finally got a break in 2011. Zoe Holyoak at Concern Worldwide put her trust in me and booked the expedition to help raise funds for Concern.
It turned out to be one of the best trips in my life, I met great people and had tons of fun. The trip was made extra special because I had my dad George (expedition doctor) and my best mate Cormac (videographer) on the trip.
What is the Ladakh Tri-Adventure?
As the name suggests, this adventure has three parts; Cycling, hiking, and kayaking. We did four days on bikes right off the bat. After that, we hiked for 4 more days, and finally, we jumped in boats and spent two days fighting our way down white-water rapids. It was tough but simply incredible, and you felt like you earned every kilometre on the trip.
The beauty of our Tri-Adventure Expeditions is there is never a dull moment and you are challenged in three different ways on the same expedition. The great thing about running expeditions in Ladakh is that typically none of your clients knows what to expect and as soon as you land it just amazes people on a daily basis! It simply is one of the top destinations for adventure sport in the world, making it the go-to destination for our first Tri-Adventure Expedition. As soon as we touched down in Leh, capital of Ladakh, people were awestruck by the scenery.
The banter started from the off by jumping into a 4-day, 70km cycle. On the first day, we started with a 10km downhill spin out of Leh and a tough 15km climb to reach a small pass at 3,700m. After an epic descent from the pass, there was was a short 8km ‘relatively flat’ section to reach our campsite in Basgo. The issue was a “flat section” in the Himalayas is still very hilly by any standards so I received lots of abuse from tired cyclists on the end of that day!
I think the scenery made up for it and that evening we visited 16th-century Monastery with stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The scenery over the next two days was simply unreal as we followed the mighty Indus river as it cut through the dramatic moonlike landscape of Ladakh. Our final day of the cycle was very tough as we ascended 700m over 22km in seven hours in extreme heat. What made it tougher was that the last 4km was on soup-like sand!
Anyone who has worked for a family member will tell you, you always get shafted. You either don’t get paid properly or you get poorly treated. Well in my Dad George’s case I didn’t pay him, and of the 20 odd bikes we had, I gave him the worst one ? The frame was way too big for him meaning he was struggling to get power onto the pedals! He soldiered on like a champion considering he was over 65 at the time!
The trekking section was absolutely stunning as we crossed four high passes the highest being just over 5,000m. While I love camping and sleeping in tents, if its warm enough I always try and sleep outside. On this trip, it was just warm enough to sleep outside every night except for a couple of nights on the trek when I slept in the mess tent. On one particular night in the mess tent, I had an uninvited visitor with me; a small pashmina goat. Famed for their wool which is used to produce stunning shawls, they still feel the cold like the rest of us so he decided to spend the night in the tent too.
Obviously being the charitable person that I am, I had no issue with this until around 5 am in the morning when I woke up to the sound of him taking a piss on the bottom of my sleeping bag! When the team found out they obviously found this hilarious and changed my name on the trip from Jam to Jaaaammmm in honour of my woolly friend! If you are going on the 2018 expedition be sure to say hello to him if you see him! On the fourth day of the trek, we arrived at the Grand Canyon of Asia and descended the four hours to the floor of the canyon to see the mighty Zanskar river. I first kayaked the Zanskar in 2004 and was excited to get back on this river which is widely considered one of the worlds greatest rafting runs.
By the time we reached the river people were tired after eight tough days (4 biking & 4 trekking) on the go. Most of the team were looking forward to two easier days but that illusion was crushed at first sight of the river. The Zanskar is a high-volume class IV river with some huge rapids all in a “box canyon”. This means once you start you are committed to reaching the end of the canyon.
Between the thrilling white-water and the huge Canyon walls, it made for a special experience and great way to finish our expedition. When we finally got back to the Indus river and finished the expedition people were exhausted, but the sense of satisfaction amongst the group was amazing. People were blown away by how tough the trip was and I was so impressed with how well everyone did.
If you are looking for a true adventure, an expedition that not many people do this is the one for you. We are running the expedition again in August 2018 and we still have some spaces left. Get in touch if you are you up for the challenge! You can find out more information, and sign up to the Ladakh Tri-Adventure here!
If you’re interested in seeing the amazing video that Cormac put together, you can watch it on Youtube below!