While growing up in Scotland, Charlene Gibson never considered herself ‘outdoorsy’. Decades later, things quickly changed. After an amicable separation with her partner of 12 years, Charlene went on an expedition that began a new adventurous life of trekking and mountaineering.
If you’ve ever wished that you were more adventurous, this incredible woman is the one to learn from. Her story is one that will inspire you to begin your next journey.
Desire Something Different
It just so happened that the end of Charlene’s long-term relationship coincided with the holidays. Deciding she simply didn’t want to spend the holidays alone, Charlene booked a trip with an expedition company and went trekking in Morocco.
With few adventures under her belt at 32 years old, this expedition was a major eye-opener. She joined a group of people of all ages, experience levels, and capabilities to go on a fairly easy trek. Although straightforward, there were many things that shocked Charlene as she camped in the wilderness.
While Charlene at times thought, “What have I done?” she ultimately got through the first two weeks and really enjoyed it. She soon booked her next expedition. What made Charlene decide to go on the out-of-comfort-zone expedition in the first place? She wanted her life to be very different, even if for a short time. If she didn’t like it, no one would force her to do another. This desire to make a complete change is partially what gave Charlene the courage to book a trip and try something so new. Find that desire in yourself and taking the leap will be that much easier.
Push Your Limits
What may help reveal your adventurous side is tearing down the self-imposed limitations you never realized were holding you back. If you’ve ever said to yourself, “Oh, that sounds amazing, but I could never do it,” you are the one stopping yourself from adventure.
On her Morrocan expedition, Charlene learned that she could do without comforts. Plus, she actually enjoyed the discomfort of being in the wilderness. This taught her where her limits were and that they were actually further than she thought.
Trying something new and adventurous can show you exactly how wrong you were about your own limitations.
Train Your Own Way
With more and more plans for future expeditions, Charlene began to run to build up her strength, even though she never considered herself a runner. Charlene started doing short distances with a friend and later joined a local running club.
Not only did running help immensely with trekking, it also helped Charlene discover a new part of her adventurous side. With more and more running under her belt, she started doing marathons and ultras.
You might be surprised what you learn to enjoy once you start and find a community. Consider what training options most interest you and get out there and try them. You never know when you’ll discover a new passion.
Try Learning Technical Skills
For many of her expeditions, Charlene had no technical training whatsoever. This is actually one of the benefits of going with an experienced group. But after an experience climbing, Charlene realized how little she knew and how she didn’t want to ever be in a position where she didn’t know if she was safe or not.
So she enrolled in a course at the International School of Mountaineering. Charlene spent a week on the course and has completed several more since then. Once you find an experience that you enjoy, learning technical skills can boost your confidence even further and give you a better perspective of the sport.
Go One Step at a Time
In 2016, Charlene became the oldest British woman to summit Tibet’s Cho Oyu (the 6th highest mountain in the world!). This was no easy feat. Charlene struggled to acclimate and took several attempts to get to each camp. With her chance of making the summit, she knew she could’ve quit at any moment. But Charlene thought, “If I could stand and move one foot in front of the other, I would keep going, no matter how slowly. As long as I could stay on my feet, I’d keep going.”
At the summit, Charlene couldn’t believe she’d made it there. They say mountaineering is 80% attitude and Charlene agrees. She wasn’t necessarily fit enough. It was mental fortitude and the camaraderie of her guides that helped her smash through her limits.
When you’re looking at a new adventure that seems too difficult, consider what it would be like to just take it one step at a time.