Drawing on memories of epic journeys can help sustain us through lockdown. Experts share their greatest conquests – and where they plan to go next
For a start, there was all the preparation: I spent every evening for several weeks running up the 55 steps of York’s Clifford Tower carrying a rucksack full of tinned dog food. It was just the thing to start forming some powerful memories, essential if a trip is going to be laid down as “the ultimate”. The load was meant to toughen me up for high-altitude exertion: I was planning an ascent of Ecuador’s Mount Chimborazo, a 6,263-metre summit that sits on the equator and is the furthest a human being can get from the centre of the Earth without flying.
When I got to Ecuador, however, and went out for my first walk, at about 3,000 metres above sea level, I suddenly passed out. Had I forgotten to take the Chappie cans out of my bag? No. Maybe I wasn’t fit enough? Doubts crept in. The next step was to climb Cayambe, a 5,790-metre volcanic peak east of Quito: this task now took on an extra frisson of excitement.