Three days of trekking. Twenty-four trekkers. Four thousand, one hundred and sixty-seven metres scaled. The SeeAbility team have completed their epic trek to the summit of Mount Toubkal and have made it safely home! We spoke to one of the trekkers, Lex, about how guiding visually impaired adventurers has changed his perspective on disability, travel and the way he sees the world.

  1. I learnt to slow down and appreciate my surroundings. When guiding someone who is visually impaired, you always need to keep describing the world around you. That was a completely new experience. When we’re so used to seeing the world, we forget to take notice of everything around us and we’ll just walk along without recognising or realising the things we have. But when you’re guiding someone with a visual impairment you take a lot more time to absorb everything. You’re forced to observe and regard every detail of your journey. I felt so much more immersed in the surroundings, not just someone passing through.

    At one point I realised that there are things I was describing that I’d never described before, or perhaps wouldn’t even have noticed before.
    The 5 senses with images from the trek linking to each sense
  2. I became more open about sharing my own life experiences. Before I went on the trek I was worried about the group dynamics – 24 people in a group sounded like quite a lot, and I was worried about having enough time to connect with everyone. But it was incredible how in just five days we found out so much about each other and connected so well.

    I think this only could have happened because some of the people on the trip had visual impairments. Let me explain. Guiding people meant that we had to start from a point of absolute honesty, openness and trust. The people with visual impairments had to open up about how much they could see and how comfortable they felt, and that in turn opened up bigger conversations about life and our experiences. Suddenly 24 didn’t seem like such a big group.

  1. I picked up that infectious desire to demand so much more out of life. This especially came from the visually impaired people on the trip, who were determined to experience so much in Morocco, despite not being able to see what was around them. It was a really eye-opening experience that challenged my assumptions of what you can get out of travel as a visually impaired person. It reminded me of one of the core beliefs at SeeAbility – that with the right support, trust and belief, anyone can achieve anything.

    One of the visually impaired people said something that stuck with me. He said:

I want to be the blind person who does things in a normal, non-blind context. I don’t want to work somewhere specifically for blind people, I want to be that trailblazer who proves blind people can live normal lives in society.

  1. It’s not all about the destination. When I was training for the Morocco trek, my sights were firmly fixed on reaching the summit of Mount Toubkal. It was an obvious, clear point where I would have reached my objective. It was both the physical and metaphorical summit of months of work.

    But soon I realised that it wasn’t about reaching the summit at all. After just the first day of trekking, many people in the group were already saying that it was the hardest thing they’d ever done. The second day, when we were due to reach the summit, was even harder. We woke up at 5am after walking for nine hours on the first day. It became difficult to breathe as we reached higher and higher altitudes and the wind really started to pick up.

    At some point I realised that it wasn’t about me reaching the summit at all. We’d worked with people with visual impairments to climb up extremely difficult terrain in extremely challenging conditions. We’d bonded as a team and shown everyone just what people could achieve when working together. The summit, essentially, was irrelevant.

    I never actually reached the top. Five hundred metres from the peak I turned back and headed down to the refuge. Because it wasn’t really about reaching the summit at all. There’s a quote about climbing that I think explains this a lot better: "Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery of why we climb".

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We’d like to wish a massive congratulations to every member of #TeamMorocco and say thank you to all our supporters who helped them towards raising a massive £40,000!

It’s so important that all our trekkers were focused on how they could all support each other along the adventure and ensure everyone was included in each experience. For our trekkers it was all about inclusion and celebrating people's ability, not their disability.

Morocco Trek 2019

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Thank you to our ‘Powered By’ sponsors, Family Building Society, for their generous support.

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