Ben's favourite joke is if you say you have something which is big or best or something grand then he will immediatly reply that his is bigger or better or greater! This stems from those annoying people who always have to go one better whenever you tell a story whether it be they have travelled more than you, do whatever it is better than you or maybe even earn more than you. So this blog is based on this, my Col is longer, harder and better than Ben's!

It really seemed like we were trying to be scared off Traversette - an archaeologist the BBC consulted said it was treacherous and too dangerous for us to climb. The guides who took us up to the pass, also said, on the morning we met them (I was later told) that we would never make it.

However...the walk was fantastic and totally safe but carrying my bike was one of dumbest things I have ever done. Taking what is basically a useless lump of metal in the conditions, which weighs around 30kgs (heavier than Ben's) to a pass which is close to 3000 metres high (Ben's was only 2550) and has no roads is not smart, but my reasoning for it was worse. My argument was that my bike was my metaphorical elephant.

One of the few spots when I tried to ride my bike!

Hannibal took 37 of them over the Alps (more than Ben) which may or may not include Traversette - until someone finds some archaeological evidence which links him to a specific pass we will never know which one he crossed to enter Italy. Hence our split at this stage so we could at least examine three passes. This lack of knowledge really maintains the mystery which makes this story so interesting. It also meant that no matter how silly I felt with my bike in the snow and rocks up the mountain, I knew that very possibly Hannibal had been there before with his savanah born elephants and he must have felt just as ridiculous!

John getting me to do it all one more time!

I did seriously regret the decision to take my bike when I realised I would not be pushing my bike, let alone riding my bike at all that day. I would have to carry it! Ben's was easier, he rode or pushed his the whole way. Mine was much much harder - it worked in rounds - I would carry my bike 20 metres then gulp for air, I did this repeatedly until we reached the top - usually I don't look forward to the filming bits particularly - I like to be off with my bike, but this time, because I was so tired (more than Ben), my bike came closs to being dumped or thrown off many cliffs and I was always hoping our director would call a halt for a shot or ptc, or John the cameraman would spot a good GV - usually he is unstoppable to the point of frustration at finding these when you want to get on with things but this time all of the ones he spotted to film generally involved me going back down the hill a bit to carry my bike up a second time - I am still not sure if he was doing this purposely!

Starting to feel the pain...

Luckily the conditions were perfect. Ben said that up Clapier there was lots of fog and it wasn't very nice - but climbing Traversette went brilliantly and it was an amazing trip, much more amazing than Clapier. John describes the day as one of his best working days ever, better than when he went to Clapier, and I would agree entirely although my work experience as a presenter totals 4 weeks (this trip)! It was defintely spectacular - we climbed to 2950 metres through steep rocky terrain over snow and ice to a pass from which you can see far into Italy. Mont Viso the mountain the Roman's thought was the highest in the Alps towered over us from the end of the valley. We got to the top without any trouble, I was almost collapsing but I didn't admit that to anyone! The guides also told us that 2 weeks before there was a metre of snow in the valley, this was all melted for us besides at top - If it had still been there I would have had an excuse to give up! We were very lucky all round, we could see that on a bad day Traversette could defintely cause problems, but on our day it was perfect - if I had not been carrying my bike I may have even enjoyed it (more than Ben enjoyed Clapier)

Thanks to Nicola and Gerard our guides they were both brilliant (better guides than Ben's) and to Gerard again for all of the great photos here.


Reaching the top with Nicola

The view from the top