A Ripon air cadet is preparing to follow in the footsteps of famous Scottish explorer Sir Alexander Mackenzie’s pioneering trail in the heights of the Rocky Mountains.
James Keddie, 16, a cadet at 886 (City of Ripon) Air Cadets, is one of just 15 cadets and nine adult instructors from across the region who have been specially chosen after a rigorous assessment process to take part in the challenging expedition in North America.
James said: “It’s going to be an incredible experience – a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s also going to be a big challenge.
“We’ve been told that the trail we’re going on is not often used as it’s considered too tough for most trekkers.”
Departing at the end of July, James will spend four weeks trekking across the stunning West Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, following the final section of the Mackenzie trail – a trail rarely used because of its challenging nature.
Pitching and striking camp, cooking meals, purifying water and all other essential camp tasks will be undertaken by the team of cadets as they make their way across the “wild country” of mountains, rivers, lakes, stream crossings, bogs, unspoiled forest, alpine meadows, scree slopes and even bears.
James needs to raise £1,200 to pay for the trip, which is subsidised by the Yorkshire Cadet Trust, and around £600 for his own kit and equipment which he is doing through a range of fund raising activities such as sponsored events, bag packing and weekends working in local businesses.
The cadets have been undergoing a 12-month training programme, which commenced earlier last year, in preparation for the extreme conditions they will face.
Col David Fuller OBE, Colonel Cadets at Headquarters 15 (North East) Brigade, based in York, who has been training the cadets for the trip, said: “This is the first time we’ve mounted an expedition such as this to the Rockies, and we’re delighted to be able to take our cadets on this adventure.”
– Anyone who would like to help raise money for James should contact Col Fuller by email at firstname.lastname@example.org