How to plan an expedition - part 2

Posted by BMC on 28/03/2002

The first article looked at finding suitable mountain objectives and how to obtain any necessary permissions. This sheet focuses on the practicalities of actually making your trip happen.

Most of what has been written about expedition organisation seems to be based on a model of a military campaign with logistical hierarchies, battle plans, big trucks, and large numbers of porters. Such an approach may work well in some circumstances, but it is not the method to recommend for the vast bulk of trips to the Greater Ranges.

At the other end of the scale there is the so called alpine approach, which gets muddled with climbing styles but may not actually mean being a lightweight and low impact expedition. As a rough guide to scale, if when you set off into the mountains, you and two friends can fit all your equipment and food into one taxi then you have a lightweight expedition, and as such you are likely to minimise your headaches and have a lot of fun. With a lightweight approach you will be able to easily adapt to changes in plans, travel and accommodation arrangements will be straightforward, and you will have much closer contact with local people.

Travel
Whatever the size of your team the first problem is travel. Inexpensive flights are relatively easy to arrange and the baggage allowance to Asia is just okay for very lightweight climbing and trekking trips. Common sense suggests that you look for the cheapest flight, but you may wish to consider other factors such frequency of service, journey time, and the possibility of changing return dates. Cheap flights via funny places can be enlightening experiences. Baggage allowances are much more generous across the Atlantic, but if you are heading for Asia it is becoming increasingly difficult to squeeze extra baggage on at the departure gate. You will get on wearing big boots, but the days of wearing ropes and karabiner necklaces under your duvet, with a day sack full of ice-screws, pitons, crampons and ice-tools are long gone. So unless you are very lightweight you will need to negotiate for an additional baggage allowance. You may have to do this direct with the airline after you have booked your flight. Some airlines are familiar with this but for others good persuasive skills will be essential. Whatever you agree with the airline stick to, others will be relying on the goodwill of airlines in the future.

Accommodation
Finding accommodation on arrival in the destination country is not normally a problem but do not be naive and take the first option that is offered at a so called special rate. Look at more than one guest house or hotel and check out the rooms and prices. For a lightweight trip internal overland transport can usually be arranged easily on arrival and very inexpensively. However, internal flights to popular areas are normally booked well in advance and so you may need to arrange these before departure.

Provisions
Base camp cooking equipment and provisions are best purchased in the host country and fresh food can usually be obtained at or near the road-head. If you are using a cook at a base camp, if it is possible, let him help select the food. Letting him cook local meals will help to ensure your food is prepared properly. A diet of rice, dahl, chipatis, and vegetable dishes with the odd plate of parantha, and fried egg and chips, seems to work fine at base camp. However, if you insist on eating European food prepare for very soggy pasta, and custard with your steak and kidney pudding. Often your favourite chocolate can be purchased in the capital city on arrival, so there is no need to take large amounts of specialist food in your baggage. Items like toiletries can also be purchased on arrival and save precious grams from your baggage allowance. An early visit to a market is usually an enjoyable introduction to normal life in the country you are visiting.

Fuel
For cooking in the mountains liquid fuel is not a problem in most areas of the greater ranges, and locally purchased stoves can be reliable for use at base camp (check very thoroughly when you purchase them). If you are using liquid fuel for high-altitude with a European or American stove, filter the fuel carefully before use (coffee filter paper works well for this). However, if you are using gas for high-altitude cooking, and gas is not available in the country you will be visiting, get ready for the ultimate in bureaucratic hassles. Your starting point is the Yellow Pages to get a freight agent at this end. If you do not have import authority from a body such as the Indian Mountaineering Federation in the case of India, you may as well be prepared for a holiday in a customs shed. Having said this some trips never have problems dealing with customs or tourism officials. The secret to success is being prepared (which means duplicate copies of all relevant paperwork including photocopies of passports, visas, insurance certificates and anything else that might be useful) and a persistent but patient approach. 

Read part one here

 



« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 534 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Where are they going? The BMC Expedition Grants
1
Where are they going? The BMC Expedition Grants

The following teams received grant aid from the BMC for expeditions taking place during 2017. Most are still to leave the UK; some are currently in the field, and some have recently returned, though the results of their endeavours are presently unknown. In general, only the designated expedition organiser is named.
Read more »

List of general mountaineering grants
0
List of general mountaineering grants

A list of organisations, Trusts, commercial companies and charities that are able to provide funding support for trips. Be sure to check out each organisation's awarding criteria carefully before making an application to avoid disappointment and also wasting your time.
Read more »

James Monypenny: first ascents in China and tips on expedition planning
1
James Monypenny: first ascents in China and tips on expedition planning

James Monypenny has just returned from a month establishing first ascents in the Genyen Massif of China’s Sechuan province. He offers an expedition report on climbing in the area, and some top tips for self-organised expeditions to remote regions of the world.
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
0

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

RELATED ARTICLES

Where are they going? The BMC Expedition Grants
1

The following teams received grant aid from the BMC for expeditions taking place during 2017. Most are still to leave the UK; some are currently in the field, and some have recently returned, though the results of their endeavours are presently unknown. In general, only the designated expedition organiser is named.
Read more »

List of general mountaineering grants
0

A list of organisations, Trusts, commercial companies and charities that are able to provide funding support for trips. Be sure to check out each organisation's awarding criteria carefully before making an application to avoid disappointment and also wasting your time.
Read more »

James Monypenny: first ascents in China and tips on expedition planning
1

James Monypenny has just returned from a month establishing first ascents in the Genyen Massif of China’s Sechuan province. He offers an expedition report on climbing in the area, and some top tips for self-organised expeditions to remote regions of the world.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »