It’s been a month since we arrived back in the UK and we’ve been working hard preparing for our overland mountaineering trip. We always knew it would be a hard task to plan a trip of this magnitude in such a short space of time, but over the last four weeks it feels like it has been a full time job for both of us.
Car - Toyota Land Cruiser Colorado
The two main tasks on our return from Antarctica were sorting out a vehicle and the necessary visas.
We moved pretty quickly on the vehicle front and bought a 2001 Toyota Land Cruiser Colorado. It was all looking good and the vehicle drove perfectly, it had had a service at a local garage and they confirmed it was in very good condition. We then arranged for West Coast Off Road to carry out some specialist preparation on the vehicle and on taking it to them discovered that the chassis on our Land Cruiser was very badly corroded, had been patched up with fiberglass and then hidden with under-seal in order to sell the car – oh sh*t!
Thankfully we managed to get the dealer we purchased the vehicle from to take it back and refund us most of our money – we were just happy to get rid of this dodgy car that the guys at West Coast off-road had said should not be on the road!
It was then back to the drawing board as we re-commenced our search for a 4x4 up to the task of a 20,000-mile overland trip. Within two days of this potentially trip ending news we had sourced another Toyota Land Cruiser from a private seller in Milton Keynes. Armed with some newfound knowledge and a healthy dose of skepticism we went to view the vehicle. The seller was absolutely brilliant and seemed as honest as they come. We spent a long time inspecting the car, went out for a test drive and decided to make an offer – back on track!
We were still a bit apprehensive given our previous experience so took the car straight to West Coast off-road. The guys there are absolutely fantastic and specialise in Toyota Land Cruisers - what they don’t know about them isn’t worth knowing. The company is small and family run and they immediately put our new car up on the ramps to set our minds at ease that we hadn’t been conned this time - thankfully we got the thumbs up on our second purchase! We’ll post some more info on the car later.
Mairi has done the bulk of the work relating to organising visas for the trip. We decided to use a third party organistaion to assist with acquiring visas. This would save us having to go to London to visit various embassies, and in theory speed the whole process up. We are still waiting for our visas to come through but everything appears to be on track and we should be ready to leave before the end of the month. The countries that we require visas for are Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Russia.
We are both now friends of the outdoor clothing brand Mountain Equipment. As such they are providing our clothing and sleeping bags for the expedition. We went and had a meeting at Mountain Equipment HQ a few weeks ago with Sales rep Andy Green and Marketing Director Richard Woodall. Keep a look out here for reviews of some new ME kit we are taking with us that will be in the shops later this year!
Lyon Equipment and Mountain House
We are very grateful for additional support from Lyon Equipment and Mountain House freeze-dried meals.
Our original plans had been to set off by the 21st of May. This may have been a bit optimistic considering the bureaucracy involved in the visa application process but we are now aiming to set off before the end of the month.
We will do our best to keep this blog up dated throughout the expedition, although that will depend on how often we can get access to the internet!
Scott and Mairi.