Shower in a Can in Nepal with Operation Olympus!

Last month on 16th July the inspiring Operation Olympus team set a Guinness World Record for playing the world’s highest game of hockey at 5130 metres above sea level—impressive stuff! The primary goal of the expedition was to raise money for Help for Heroes which is a charity that supports injured and fallen military personnel and which runs a series of recovery centres around the UK. Here at Shower in a Can we are really proud to have sponsored one of the team members, Simon Clapham, and to have sent the team off with a few Cans to help them stay clean and fresh at altitude and when showers were not available.

So a couple of months later, we thought we’d check in with Simon and find out how the expedition went...

So Simon, tell us how you got involved with Operation Olympus...

I have been a member of the Hockey for Heroes squad since 2016 and have completed one previous tour, Operation Stretcher where we carried a wounded veteran, Dom Lovett from Cardiff to London and played 30 games of hockey in 10 days. We managed to raise over £70,000 for Help for Heroes on this tour. So when the call came through from Joel, the CEO of Hockey for Heroes, I jumped at the chance to be involved in the OpOlympus expedition.

 

How did you prepare for the expedition?

I have been physically preparing for the next men’s tour, OpValkyrie, since December 2018 which has involved lots of gym work, cycling, and swimming all of which was great physical preparation for the World Record attempt. Specific to OpOlympus, my wife and I took a weekend to climb Pen-Y-Fan in Wales which was great fun, albeit only 886m—a long way short of the 5130m we would be reaching in Nepal.

What were your biggest challenges while on expedition?

Luckily, I didn’t get hit too hard by altitude sickness, just minor headaches that would come and go. However, some of our group got severe altitude sickness with nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Moreover, the travel was a huge challenge: before we even started hiking there were three full days of travel. Due to the heavy rains, the roads in Nepal were thick with mud and it took us two days to travel the 95 miles between Pokhara and Jomsom! There were many hair-raising moments that were like something out of one of the Top Gear Specials, and plenty of times we had to push the Jeeps out of the mud. By the time we arrived in Jomsom we were raring to go and ready to tackle the world record attempt.

What was your highlight of the trip?

Answering these questions has brought back so many incredible memories, to pick just one is very difficult. But there was a special moment when we visited a school in Jomsom after we had finished the trekking phase. We took a load of hockey equipment to show the children how to play and they absolutely loved it, even chanting for the Hockey for Heroes to win the exhibition game vs Lincoln Minster School (our expedition partners)! We are hoping that we have left a legacy behind in the local schools and that they will continue to play hockey. The enjoyment on the kids’ faces was enough to make the months of expedition preparation completely worth it!

How does it feel to be a World Record Holder?

I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet! I’ve spoken to friends since I’ve been back and they think we were completely mad for even attempting OpOlympus! I think it will fully sink in when the actual certificate comes through.

Did Shower in a Can come in useful?

Definitely! There were some nights when there were no showers, so having the Cans meant that we were able to wash and get clean and fresh. There was one night in particular when they were priceless: we were forced to make an unscheduled stop at Tatopani between Pokhara and Jomsom due to the rain and several landslides blocking the road. Because of the weather, the water coming out of the taps and showers was saturated with silt from the river and were unusable, so we took the opportunity to wash with the Cans. I’m sure the others in my Jeep were thankful for that!

What’s next? (sounds like you’ve got a crazy plan for next year!)

In May 2020, the Hockey for Heroes men’s squad will be taking on Operation Valkyrie: a 10 day tour where as a squad of 25 we will play 30 games of hockey, row across The Channel, run a marathon, swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and complete a 10 mile stretcher carry! This is a huge step up from anything anyone in the squad has ever attempted and to say I am nervous is a huge understatement. I’m hoping that we will be able to raise close to £100,000 during the tour, all of which will go to Help for Heroes and the wounded service men and women and their families that suffer from injuries as a result of serving their county.

Congratulations again on a successful Operation Olympus and good luck with preparation for Operation Valkyrie. It sounds like a huge challenge and we look forward to seeing your progress! Hopefully Shower in a Can will come in useful during training!

Find out more about Shower in a Can and how it keeps you clean and fresh with no need for water here.

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