Leo Houlding on Dealing with isolation

Although we usually go into the outdoors in seek of wide-open spaces, majestic views and a dose of adventure in my experience it is not at all uncommon to find oneself extremely confined, trapped by wild weather inside a tiny tent or port-a-ledge with a soup slurping partner and their stinking feet, feeling an unpleasant mix of boredom and fear.

Sometimes it can last for many days on the mountain or even weeks in Base camp waiting for a weather window that might never come.

Hanging in a waterfall in a flooded port-a-ledge off the side of a giant cliff, or being battered by gale force winds, protected by a few micros of nylon on the Antarctic plateau is of course very different to being sat on the sofa, wondering how long the toilet roll will last, trying to stop the kids from strangling each other whilst resisting the temptation of stepping out the front door.

But as we see the severity of this Covid-19 crisis continue to unfold on a global scale we are all understandably fearful for own health and that of our loved ones, nervous about our economic futures and experiencing the mental strain of imposed confinement.

Having faced expedition confinement many times over the years there are few ways I’ve learned to deal with that unpleasing mix of boredom and fear that may help some people through this difficult time of Corona virus confinement.

  • Don’t stress about factors that are outside your control, focus on the things that you can influence.
  • Stay positive, however bad the situation seems.
  • Try to identify the actual dangers from the perceived fears.
  • Stay as well informed of the situation as possible from multiple reliable sources.
  • Conserve energy by staying relaxed, sleep a lot which is great for the immune system. Eat well and be ready to move with full power when the chance comes.
  • Try to be productive, fix things, modify kit, deal with issues that are normally low on the priority list
  • Make plans, discuss and research options. Be ready for action.
  • Read, I never manage to make enough time for it usually.
  • Most importantly remember that the storm WILL pass eventually. Don’t despair, do what you can and be ready to make the most of the it when the skies clear.

Stay safe.

Leo Houlding.

In 2013 we spent 56 hours pinned 1000m above the ground in a blizzard during our 12-day ascent of the mile high North East Ridge of Ulvetanna, Antartica. Photo – Alastair Lee. 

Port-a-ledge confinement. Chris Rabone, Alastair Lee and Leo Houlding coping with soup slurping and stinky feet! Photo – Alastair Lee