Let me come clean with you… Spanish 3000s Story Part 0

Emily Woodhouse Adventure Stories, Big Adventures

I‘m writing this from a hotel room in Malaga. It’s 5:40 pm and there’s just under an hour left before I’m allowed to ring room service for dinner. I’m lying on a sofa bed, feet up, stomach in a starving knot. It has been quite a week. In fact, I can barely believe that it’s only been a week.

This is how my Spanish 3000s expedition ends: safely back in civilisation, back in a world with a lingering pandemic. I’ve gone from waking up alone at sunrise, beside lagunas encircled with mountains, to being asked to take a sanitised pen to sign into a hotel – and don’t worry you can clean your hands after touching the lift buttons. In fact, I guess this won’t really be over until I’ve completed my 14 day stint of quarantine back home. I’m fairly sure I won’t be able to get downstairs for at least 3 of them. There was a lot of uphill – and downhill – in this expedition. The 3km I did on a relatively flat disused road felt like a treat.

The Road (not to El Dorado, but it felt like it)

I guess I will spend some of my quarantine starting to tell the story of this trip. It has been quite a ride. Especially with the world as it has been this year. I can tell you that I honestly didn’t know if it would happen until I stepped out onto the trail at Trevelez. And even then there were curved balls along the way. Which is not to complain – if you don’t want unexpected, best to stay at home or take a package holiday.

But, in order to do this story full justice, I’m going to have to come clean with you: this wasn’t just another expedition. This was a Guinness World Record attempt.

Wait. What?

Yeah, I know. I feel slightly guilty for not telling anyone. Well, sort of. The entire point of this was to have a stab at a Guinness World Record without making a fuss about it. I wanted to see if I could quietly go off and get one in my annual leave. Not, of course, knowing that I would spend 6 months of the year on furlough. The word basically hadn’t been invented yet.

But seriously, the more time I spend in the adventure space, the more I feel like all these accolades and qualifications are just a game really. It’s hoop jumping just like getting a good coursework grade or passing your DofE. You just have to pick the right hoops. They may be made out to be unobtainable gold stars with shiny labels, but actually anyone can do it if they put in the effort and follow the rules. That is the idea that I wanted to test.

And also, I’m finding myself feeling more and more of an obligation to share, to tell the world about what I’m doing – or more precisely, the internet. It’s bizarre. But I don’t want to feel like I can’t do something without “making the most of it” from a marketing or PR or content or whatever perspective. You fill in the blanks. Sure I could make a fuss and it might get me likes and a bigger following. Sure I could leverage it this way or that. But that word should is making me feel like rebelling. I don’t want to feel like I have to. Plus openly giving the label of Guinness World Record Attempt somehow makes it seem more epic and I’m really not going in for that at the moment. A shiny label doesn’t make it any different – I’m still doing exactly the same expedition as without it…

I guess you could say that, as much as anything, this was an exercise in self restraint.

Right! GWR – Tell us all.

Okay, what’s there to tell? My attempt was on the most 3000m mountains climbed in a week. The current record is 7. I picked it because it was a short timescale (annual leave) and I thought I could do it. I wasn’t after something that I needed to train loads for – I wanted something I was already good at. The process seems hard enough without making the actual attempt difficult for yourself too. I guess you could say I wanted it to feel like I was cheating, having it as easy as possible.

Which is how I landed on the Sierra Nevadas. Once I’d decided to go for 3000m mountains, I needed to find the best location possible. The Sierra Nevadas in Spain had a high enough density of 3000m peaks, some only just over the height limit. It was non-technical and snow-free in summer, which would massively simplify life. It also meant I could easily go solo. Although Spain is hot hot in July and August, it was 15-20 degrees on the mountain tops. In short, it looked perfect.

And I think that is all you need to know to start the story. My aims were to crack the intellectual puzzle of a GWR, have fun and do it without making a fuss about it. I began planning this back in November 2019. Everything I’ve told you in all these posts is true and still stands. Oh, but you should probably know a few things about the rules and regulations for the attempt to be valid. Firstly, there are many ways to trip up on evidence collection (proof you’ve done it “officially”). Secondly, the most important criteria was that I needed to do at least 500m of vertical ascent on each mountain. There must be accurate GPS tracking, witness statements and videos showing altimeter readings. See what I mean about hoop jumping?

Luckily, though, I think that’s it for bringing you up to date. So that’s it, the secret’s out. Let the storytelling ensue. And thankfully, I can now order some food too 🙂