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Teacher Blog: The IA Journals

21 November 2018

Last weekend, the Bronze International Award students packed their ruck-sacks and headed back into the mountains for their second practice expedition weekend. International Award Leader, Ms O’Donnell, brings the trip vividly to life in her ‘IA Journals’ – read on to experience the expedition as if you were there too…


09.00: The Bronze International Award practise expedition weekend starts at a sunny Mont Pèlerin Funicular station where the students embark to journey to the start point and first challenge of the trip – navigating their way to Cabane de Mont Vuarat via the village of Bossenens.

10.00: Students kept under semi-remote supervision, tricky navigation through forested terrain.

11.00: Students seem to have grasp on navigation and are therefore set free to find their way to a small junction near the village of Attalens. As the melodic sounds of “I love you baby” drift across the fields, Gimena, Sandra, Eksha, Regina and Raquel’s group eventually come into sight (and earshot).

11.15: Eksha attempts to feed cows corn whilst Raquel ponders the ethical side of offering them cheese.

11.30: Nastya, Liza.F, Liza.S, Rubi, Rhizland and Violeta’s group manage to get lost in the woods; however, thanks to some successful teamwork and a review of the map, they are quickly back on course.

13.00: Lunchtime. Rubi, Rhizland and Violeta reflect on what a joy it has been to cook and eat instant noodles for lunch.

15.00: Students make their way through more wooded terrain in search of the village of Vuarat, nestled at the foot of Mont Vuarat where their campsite awaits them.

17.00: In a last minute dramatic twist of fate, Gimena’s group make a navigational error leading them away from the campsite, whilst Liza.F successfully navigates her group into the lead (not that it’s a race but it’s nice to get to the campsite first and put up your tent before everyone else) and into the upper reaches of Mont Vuarat ,where a lonely field (lonely if you don’t count the 600 cows in the field next door) nestled behind an old cabin awaits them. 

17.30: The two Lizas and Nastya successfully erect their tents while Rubi, Rhizland and Violetta ponder the strange shaped dwelling they have constructed and debate whether it is actually possible to sleep in it. After a few pole changes and carefully placed pegs (delicately encouraged into the ground with large rocks) the tent now appears to be inhabitable.

18.00: Gimena, Sandra, Eksha, Raquel and Regina valiantly stride into the campsite for the night, still smiling and singing despite their navigational error and extra distance walked. Hot on their heels are their friends from the St George’s school who would join them for the rest of the expedition.

19.00: Night hike. The students head out into the woods armed with their torches, wit and best singing voices to learn the skills entailed in navigating in limited visibility.

19.30: Dinnertime. Despite being advised to bring lightweight, carb-high dishes such as pasta or noodles, Nastya’s group have opted for gourmet potatoes with a side of crevettes. They are unperturbed when the gas (predictably) runs out whilst waiting for the potatoes to cook and manage to source more fuel from the other participants. Both their determination and cooking skills are impressive given the location.
         Meanwhile, as Rubi, Rhizland and Violeta tuck into their second portion of instant noodles of the day, they comment that one of the things they will miss most about the weekend is the opportunity to eat such fabulous food whilst being serenaded by cows.

21.30: Bedtime – students huddle down in their tents for the night being rocked to sleep by the sound of cowbells and Mr Lineham loudly telling the students from St George’s school to be quiet and go to bed.


07.00: Students wake up, bleary eyed and stiff from a chilly night in the tents but ready to crack on with the final day of their expedition.

09.00: Porridge cooked and eaten, tents and sleeping bags packed away, massive rucksacks strapped on backs and walking boots laced up, the students are on their way. Apart from a few stray Super Noodles, it is as if they were never there.

12.00: Students make their way through the village of Attalens and begin their summit bid of Mont Pèlerin, the highest peak in the area – towering at a staggering elevation of 1080m and covered in thick forest. Students navigate their way up the northern flank of the mountain, with Gimena’s group stopping at Mont Cheseaux (its slightly smaller sister peak) for lunch.

13.00: Liza S, Liza F, Nastya, Rubi, Rhizland and Violeta decide to push on - hungry with summit fever they opt to have their lunch high up on the upper reaches of the mountain. Once at the top and tucking into their final portion of instant noodles, Rubi, Rhizland and Violeta savour every mouthful and reflect on what a challenging experience the International Award is. 

15.30: After a successful summit of the mountain and descent of the south face of Mont Pèlerin, both groups successfully navigate their way back to the Mont Pèlerin funicular station where the bus and the sweet sense of achievement awaits them.

The End