Updated: May 29, 2019
Today we make a big announcement for AJ Spain. This has been some time in the making and we've been discussing the idea for a couple of years.
The AJ Spain founder members, Alex and Paul, are taking on their own, personal challenge: an expedition to Corsica to attempt the Northern GR20, next year in June 2020.
The Grand Randonnée 20 has long held the reputation of Europe's toughest hike and the Northern section is its most spectacular and challenging half. Normally taking 7 to 9 days to complete, we're making this challenge tougher still and attempting to complete it in just 5 days! That's around 90km and between 7000-8000m vertical (figures from http://corsica.forhikers.com/gr20). Oh, and just to add to the challenge, we'll be taking the optional detour to the top of Corsica's highest peak - Monte Cinto (2,706m) - almost double the altitude of any peak we've ever attempted before!
Inspired by our work with DofE participants, we're adding yet more challenge: the Northern GR20 in 5 days, unsupported and self-sufficient! Most who attempt this route eat and sleep at the mountain huts at the end of each stage. We won't! We'll camp, carry all gear and food and buy no re-supplies, not even water. This, we feel, will be the purest way to experience the toughest trail Europe has to offer and will be in the spirit of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award expeditions we support in our day jobs.
Remember, we might be DofE leaders and keen hikers and campers but we are by no means ultra-marathon athletes - not even close! We both have full time jobs, as teachers and DofE leaders, and busy family lives. This is a major undertaking for us and, whilst more seasoned mountaineers and adventurers may not be impressed with what we're trying to do, we are taking up a personal challenge and pushing it to the limits of what we believe we could achieve. Personal challenge for personal growth - that's core DofE ethos.
There'll be lots of related content on this blog - from our planning and research, both considering different options for gear and techniques - to our progress with the (considerable!) fitness training we'll need to undertake and a series of practice trips to dial in kit and routines and find out what works for us. Also, we'll be fundraising for the DofE Challenge and trying to get sponsors/partners.
So, follow this blog, our Instagram feed and our Twitter account (links up top) to see how we get on with preparing for this challenge. Give us your ideas/experiences/suggestions in the comments below or on social media.
We have one year to be ready. Please, support us if you can and... wish us luck!