James borrell is a conservation scientist and science communicator, with a particular interest in how species adapt to changing climate.

8 Expedition Lows

Expeditions aren’t all fun all of the time. Low points can leave you wondering why you’re there, pushing you towards giving up, amplified by the very nature of expedition life. Fortunately, they usually make for good tales of adventure afterwards. Here’s 8 expeditions lows.

1) Coming down with some dodgy tropical bug on day 2 of my first ever expedition.

2) Trekking to a resupply in Norway in order to receive my A level results (turned out ok!).

3) Carelessly slipping on a snow slope on the Haardangervidda, and having to self arrest. The low point was having to pull myself together and continue.

4) First night in a bivy bag, in Wales, in March.

5) Getting so wet from rain and waves that my life jacket auto-inflated whilst sailing the Atlantic. Sounds quite mundane in retrospect, but cold and sleep deprived at night in a gale, it was frustrating to put it mildly. Worse still was carelessly replacing the canister below deck and accidentally making it inflate for a second time.

6) A disorientated 3am boat journey in the Amazon, with a suspiciously rising internal water level, a broken rudder and only my head torch for light.

7) Hearing of expedition tragedies, that have occurred half a world away.

8 ) Realising that on the last day of the expedition, having used boats to extract everything out from base camp to a town along the coast, that you’ve left some very important kit (that a nice man loaned you) sitting in a stream to be cleaned. Error.

On balance though, it is far easier to think of the many exciting, exhilarating and rewarding high points and whats-more, in retrospect many of the lows don’t really sound too bad.