What leads people down the adventurous path? Is it nature, nurture or is it just fate. In January Tania Noakes will set-out to complete the “Norge På Langs” which is roughly translated from Norwegian as “Norway from end to end”. It is a journey of approximately 2500km extending from Lindesnes the most southerly tip of Norway to Nordkapp in the extreme north. In order to complete this winter journey in 80-90 days, Tania will have to ski an average 30-40km each day. If successful Tania will be the first British woman to complete “Norge På Langs”, solo and in a single winter. More information click here.
So what makes someone want to undertake such a feat? Here is Tania's tale.
This summer I lost my father to brain cancer. It has been one of the most difficult and soul-searching periods of my life. It has been hard to see the good things, the happiness and the hope behind the depth of sadness that losing a parent brings. My father always loved hearing about my adventures. He encouraged me forward with a belief and love that lit up my life from my first tentative steps into the mountains through to qualifying as a Mountain Guide and beyond.
The Challenge: Norge På Langs
It is wonderful when someone else is inspired by your dream and I am grateful for Fori’s belief and support. They have agreed to sponsor me with their savoury snack bars to help keep me going through the dark, cold winter months ahead. In return, Fori invited me to share with you some of the reasons why I take on challenges like this. It’s a good question… so here goes!
In January I will set out to ski the classic Norge På Langs. This is a journey of over 2500km that will take me from one end of Norway to the other through some of Europe’s’ most wild and remote mountainous areas whilst they are locked in the grip of winter. Alone and without mechanized transportation I aim to complete my traverse in around 80-90days.
As I write these words a mixed swirl of emotions rises within me, bubbling up and expanding in pace with my imagination; curiosity, excitement, hope, love, happiness, nervousness, doubt, disappointment and sadness. A kaleidoscope of feelings that wash over me and cause me to take a deep breath and reflect for a moment.
Nuggets of truth
Life contains many challenges. We can only ever control how we respond to them.
I’ve just got in from a run up high on the Chamonix valley trails. It’s a bright sunny day, vibrant with autumn colours. There’s a crisp chill in the air that breathes a freshness and clarity into you. Days like these wake you up and make you feel truly alive. I find time and space to think whilst out running. I can sift out the sand from my cluttered thoughts and discover shiny nuggets of truth.
What an adventurous path has taught me
I live in Chamonix, in the France Alps, and I work as a professional IFMGA Mountain Guide and Ski Instructor. I grew up in Essex, which is one of the flattest counties in the UK and far removed from the world I’m immersed in now. A life of taking on challenges has helped me develop the courage and self-belief that I needed to qualify as a Mountain Guide and to create the life I dreamt of whilst growing up.
This is what adventure has to offer us, the opportunity for personal growth.
The outcome of an adventure is never certain; there are always unknowns and often difficulties. The physical journey is matched every step of the way by an even tougher mental journey. In terms of how you respond to the unexpected and how you manage your emotions. I look ahead to this winter and the up swell of emotion forces me to look directly at my fears and recognise them for what they are; reminders that nothing is permanent, and that our lives are changing around us whether we want them to or not.
Each of us will face difficulties at some point in our lives, set-backs, frustrations, and disappointments. How we respond goes a long way to defining our character and our future. Significant events; an unexpected failure in school or in your career, the breakdown of a relationship, the loss of a loved one often shake us to the core, and force us to look inside ourselves for answers, for a way forward, for strength and hope.
By choosing the adventurous path I have encountered many set-backs. I have risked failure, been frustrated and disappointed many times and I have learnt to pick myself up again, and again. I have learnt to look again from a different perspective, to save the grain of gold, and move forward into life, not withdraw from it.
My adventures remind me to embrace life to the full, for it is fragile and too short. To value each day I share with family and friends, to focus on the things I can do rather than regret the things I can’t, to be grateful for the rich wonders of the world, and the depth of kindness and compassion that others often show us in times of need.
My life in the mountains, learning to respond appropriately to a constantly changing environment with real and immediate consequences, has helped me to better understand and stay calm in the face of my most challenging fear; that despite all our efforts there will come a time when we must let go of everything. Even those things that we hold most dear, even the things that define who we are.
I have wanted to ski the length of Norway for many years. This year I started planning to make it happen. So that I could have a bright star of hope on the horizon, something positive that my father and I could share and talk about during our last months together; something that would extend forward into an unknown future.
I know that he would have loved to have shared this journey with me in person. I also know that he would want me to let go of my sadness, to stay open and curious about the world, to keep learning, to keep adventuring and above all to be happy. For me this journey is special, and I will not be alone.
Tania is a writer, adventurer and IFMGA Mountain guide. She is a mentor and role model for young athletes and mountaineers, particularly young women and aims to inspire and develop them through both her writing and speaking engagements.
Alongside her journey she is raising money for the “The Ulysses Trust”. This is a charity that provides a source of funding for young people in the UK Cadet Forces to enable them to undertake adventurous outdoor experiences and expeditions aimed at personal development. To help the engagement and development of young people in society, individually, and as effective contributors to their communities and as citizens. To help Tania with a donation click here.