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Alpine Challenge 2017 – Day Two Blog

September 11th, 2017

RPA Group CEO Damian Hopley brings you all the action from the 2017 Restart Rugby Alpine Challenge…..

Day Two – Monday 11th September

Le Grand Depart

Day two of the Restart Rugby Alpine Challenge gets off to the best possible start as I open my eyes to be met by the vision of my roommate Charlie Hodgson in full hiking kit. Unfortunately his wife (and all round super-star) Daisy is unable to join us this year due to her recent hip replacement, so Charlie has drawn the short straw..

The group meets for breakfast and pre-match nerves are rife. The returning trekkers try to ease any anxieties and we are hugely assisted by our Grande Guide Francois-Eric, an extraordinary mountain man. He is 51, looks an athletic 35 and is a cross between Jean Van de Velde and Willy Wonka. He will provide plenty of entertainment for the trek, sans doute..

F-E briefs the ensemble and, after group photo we set off on the first day’s trek to Switzerland to conquer Aiguillette des Posettes and Tete de Balme at 2,350m.

The first ascent is a harsh reminder of my lack of training but some quality esprit de corps from our fellow trekkers is much needed.

The climb doesn’t get any easier as the weather closes in with up to 50km winds that are cutting us in two.

Trekking is for all ages and our group have been boosted by the presence of three strapping, handsome young men: James & Ben Bradley and Fred Johnson who are accompanying their fantastic mother’s Una and Amanda respectively (of whom more later).

As you can imagine with three dashing chaps energy is coursing through them and they are struggling to rein themselves in to the steady pace that Francois-Eric is setting. They keep easing ahead as the testing conditions and terrain see the group spreading out.

Looking like a boy band the young bucks head off up the mountain much to Francois-Eric’s distress as he traverses the main group around the mountains to escape the raging 50kmh winds. When we are finally reunited some 20 minutes later, I muse whether their band name would be ‘Wrong Direction’. Oh dear, sorry about that reader.

Fortunately the day passes without incident or accident and we return to base feeling exhausted but delighted to have seen off an incredible day summiting two mountains. However I remind myself that all of the hard work is in aid of our fantastic charity Restart Rugby – this challenging trek is worth the effort for our players.

Dinner is great fun as the banter and war stories of the day flow almost as much as the wine. This is a fantastic group and no one is safe as the barbs fly at 100mph.

Most of the flack is aimed in my direction for the extraordinary pair of mountain trousers I found in the discount rack at my local sports store the day before I came out. I thought I would need tight fitting travel to keep the wind at bay, I fear I may have gone a little too tight. They would not look out of place in Shoreditch..

Tomorrow we take on France and our collective sore knees, stiff backs and tight hamstrings can’t wait.

Steps today: 35,366

Calories burnt: 6890

To read Damian’s blog from day one click here or alternatively visit his Just Giving page to make a donation.


For more info on Restart Rugby and the Alpine Challenge and to show your support for the team and our players, please visit our Just Giving page.