MISSION TO MOROCCO
Tiso Supported Athlete Iona Rendall is used to challenging herself. Whether it's heading our for a solo summit camp, or taking on the infamous Great Glencoe Challenge, she's not afraid to push herself to explore the mountains. Having started a walking club less than a year ago, she's now helped many other people put aside their fears and experience the joy of the outdoors. This September though, Iona is heading a bit further afield. We caught up with her to chat about taking a group or walkers to Morocco...
Can you explain a little about the expedition & what you hope to achieve?
My Morocco Expedition is a 10 day hike to reach the 3 highest peaks in North Africa; M’goun (4,071m), Ouanoukrim (4,089m) and finally Toubkal (4,167m). We will be camping in remote locations along the way and will be lead by Three Peaks Africa and guides who are local to the area. That’s the facts and figures but here’s the real stuff….I’ve never hiked at altitude before let alone taken on such a daunting and challenging trek. I hope to prove to myself and others that you don’t have to be an elite athlete or a world renowned adventurer to set yourself a goal and conquer it.
How did you get involved organising this trip?
Marie Cheng is the founder of Three Peaks Africa and we arranged to meet up last year at the Women's Adventure Expo in Bristol. She then flew up from London for the Aviemore Adventure weekend I organised alongside Yugen Explore. Marie explained she runs '3 peak' expeditions up Kilimanjaro and that she was considering some new locations. Following the Aviemore week she got back in contact to ask if I would like to take a group out to Morocco for my very own expedition. I didn’t hesitate! Since then I have been recruiting people for my team and so far I have 10 people from my walking group who have signed up for this extraordinary challenge and there are 5 places remaining. Marie works tirelessly to provide exceptional hiking trips. As she's started her company from nothing I can appreciate how much determination and passion she puts into it so it felt right to work alongside and support such a unique organisation.
What do you think the biggest challenge in Morocco will be?
As I’ve never hiked at altitude I have no idea how my body will react to that. I’m not worrying about it just now though as i’ll just take it as it comes. All I can do is prepare myself as best I can. So as part of my training I’m trying to do as many hill days as I can and I’ve increased my days in the gym. I feel like it’s important for me to build up good overall strength and balance as well as stamina. It’s all part of creating a positive mindset as I think the long days on the expedition will be a real test.
Why is challenging yourself important?
Until last year I’d never really set myself any challenges. I decided to walk the Great Glencoe Challenge in July 2018 and I trained hard for that 26.2 mile hike. During that time I realised how much more determined I was when I had a goal I was working towards. It is a whole new level this time but again, it’s good to tell myself I’m working towards a goal, and that keeps me motivated and determined. We all know what we could potentially be capable of but until we really challenge our limits we’ll never truly know.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to the team work and the camaraderie during the expedition. Already there are some real characters in my team and it’s going to be great to bring everyone together. We’ll need to draw on each of our strengths at different times so it’s great to have such a mix of people. I’m looking forward to the remoteness of the travelling we’ll be doing, experiencing new cultures, learning more about the area and witnessing the sheer beauty of it all for myself. I’ve heard of a lot of people who have summited Toubkal but very few who have taken on all 3 of the highest peaks.
What are you nervous about?
In all honesty it’s not a question I’ve really asked myself. The excitement and the anticipation have more than compensated for any nerves at this stage. Obviously I hope that my team will actually enjoy the experience but that’s out of my control. I’ve stipulated that anyone signing up for the expedition must also be part of my walking group ‘Iona’s Adventures’. This is to help make sure that they are willing to be part of the community, potentially train together when possible and take on the expedition as part of a team rather than a solo mission. This should help everyone get to know one another beforehand and therefore help everyone enjoy the expedition even more!
Why do you love the mountains?
Being in the mountains is my head space. It allows me to escape from those everyday worries, concerns, thoughts and distractions. Not only that but nothing beats that sense of achievement I get from reaching the summit and looking out at the incredible scenery around me. Whether alone or as part of a group, it’s a wonderful feeling to put one foot in front of the other and realise just how far that can take you. I’m a big believer in the outdoors and exercise forming an important aspect of looking after our mental health and wellbeing as well as our physical health. It may not be a healer but it certainly helps it to feel more manageable.
How can interested people join your team & walking group?
If you want to become part of my incredible team then there are 5 places remaining. The cost of this trip organised by Three Peaks Africa is £795 (excluding flights) and this really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a 10 day expedition summiting the 3 highest peaks in North Africa. Nobody on the team so far has ever done anything like this before (myself included!) so if you’re up for the challenge and willing to train hard then I’d love to hear from you and chat to you more about how you could become part of our team! If you want to start smaller, join my walking group on Facebook (Iona's Adventures) or look me up on Instagram to see where we've been and where we're walking next!
MEET THE TEAM
- Name | Thomas Faulkner | IG @thomasfaulkner_
- Favourite Hill | Beinn Eighe
- Why Did You Sign Up? | To motivate me to get out on the hills in 2019 and to give myself a goal to work towards. Seemed like a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and sign up for something different and exciting.
- What Are You Looking Forward To? | Wild camping under the stars, on the side of a mountain, in a foreign country with a bunch of great new friends!
- Name | Nonie | IG @nonieoliver
- Favourite Hill | The mountains around Sölden in Austria - they're ace!
- Why Did You Sign Up? | It’s a trip of a lifetime and a great chance to climb epic mountains with some ace folk.
- What Are You Looking Forward To? | Meeting the gang properly, camping in the wilderness and seeing lovely sunrises. Woop woop!
- Name | Susie Oliver-Mcfadzen | IG @susiefaeselkirk
- Favourite Hill | Don't have a favourite hill - all the hills!
- Why Did You Sign Up? | Turning 40 this year so wanted to do something epic! I am at my happiest when in the mountains whether it be hiking or snowboarding so this trip seemed like a perfect adventure.
- What Are You Looking Forward To? | The whole experience; the scenery, sense of achievement, and being around other like minded people who appreciate the outdoors! It should be a hoot!
- Name | Lindsey Christie | IG @lindseychristie
- Favourite Hill | Ben Macdui
- Why Did You Sign Up? | I wanted a bigger challenge and always have a good time hiking with Iona!
- What Are You Looking Forward To? | Eating loads and enjoying some epic views.
- Name | Ellie Munro IG | @elliemunro
- Favourite Hill | I’m not sure I have a favourite hill (I don’t really have favourite anything’s) but I’m still fairly new to hill walking, so maybe my favourite is waiting out there somewhere for me
- Why Did You Sign Up? | ? I signed up for this expedition as I always see others out doing amazing trips and get so envious. I realised it was time I started doing instead of watching! It gives a chance to see a part of the world I haven’t been to yet. I also wanted something to aim for and help me increase my fitness levels.
- What Are You Looking Forward To? | I’m truly looking forward to the whole trip (if not a little scared aswell) but I think we will create some great friendships and bonds, and the group is so encouraging and supportive of each other that I’m sure it will distract from the tougher parts of the challenge!
- Name | Jamie Neill | IG @jamieneillscotland
- Favourite Hill | Suilven - climbed during my North Coast 500 roadtrip. A daunting mountain on first sight from Clachtoll & a great walk in myself, with a steep ascent. The views were far & wide on a memorable day.
- Why Did You Sign Up? | Munros & the National 3 Peaks Challenge in the UK within my first year of dedicated hiking, so going to a new country & challenging myself physically was an instant attraction. I signed up within 24 hours of meeting Iona for the 1st time.
- What Are You Looking Forward To? | The feeling of challenge & achievement whilst hiking plus the team spirit & supporting each other all the way.
- Name | Craig Murray | IG @jocky_chan
- Favourite Hill | Buachaille Etive Mor
- Why Did You Sign Up? | I had been looking out for a challenge to do this year as I turned 40 back in January and wanted to find something that would not only push me both mentally and physically but also take me out of my comfort zone. I picked up a heel injury back in 2017 which limited what I could do for about 14 months and so promised myself that when I got fully fit again, I would try and do as many things as possible whilst I’m able and injury free. I love being outside and climbing the mountains of Scotland and although relatively new to hillwalking, what an awesome thing to have on the mountain CV. This is without doubt going to be an experience of a life time.
- What Are You Looking Forward To? | I’m not only looking forward to testing myself both mentally and physically as this will be without doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I’d say I’m more looking forward to experiencing it as a team. I think most of us, if not all of us haven’t done anything on this scale before and so it will be awesome to see everyone pull together as a team.
- Name | Jimmy Gaylor | IG @jimmygaylor
- Favourite Hill | Beinn Dorain/Ben Ledi - It's not a Munro but I was brought up at the foot of it
- Why Did You Sign Up? | I signed up for this for a number of reasons including getting out of my comfort zone and giving me something to train for. It’s also always been an ambition to hike abroad and to do it with people in a similar position to myself is very appealing.
- What Are You Looking Forward To? | A beer and a foot rub on day 10
- Name | Glen Craib | IG @glencraib
- Favourite Hill | Lochnagar
- Why Did You Sign Up? | Think that doing three 4000m peaks over 8-9 consecutive days is going to be fun and a challenge, certain to be some sore feet along the way. I am sure the views and the surrounding scenery will far outweigh a few aches and pains. I have never been to Morocco and I love exploring new places, so what better way than to hike around climbing three of its biggest mountains - better than just chilling at the pool I say.
- What Are You Looking Forward To? | I am most looking forward to making new friends along the way. Hopefully a few are interesting characters! Sharing a story, a laugh and a joke with people who enjoy the great outdoors like myself. I have never met any of these people joining the hike but am already certain it's going to be a good laugh, even if I get blisters. Also, I love camping, so bring on the camping outside......... My view on this may change after a few days with smelly feet and snorers
Best of luck to Iona and the team. It's sure to be an amazing trip!
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