Extreme Adventure is the new Milestone Birthday Party!

A family and friends theme party or back yard barbie with a lovingly created video trip down memory lane is no longer the way to celebrate your milestone 50th birthday.

If you’re not planning to grab a few of your old mates and sea kayak around Antarctica’s South Georgia then it is time to start thinking about it! 

And if that all seems rather extreme, then think again. Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, trekking to Everest Base Camp or hiking the Kokoda Trail are just a few of the adventures that now mark what used to be considered your ‘over the hill’ birthday.
There’s a growing trend for baby boomers and Y gens to take on wild adventures with their friends to celebrate turning 40 or 50.    

I went on a girl’s adventure to Everest Base Camp for my 50th and I’m not alone. Carole Davis, currently planning her 60th Soiree, said “I went mad at 50. I walked a chunk of the Camino De Santiago Pilgrim Trail and then the Kokoda Track! Look out 60, here I come.”

So-called ‘milestone’ travel has become big business as more and more Aussies plan adventures around milestone birthdays.
“An increasing number of clients—up 20% this year alone—are organizing trips to celebrate a landmark birthday or anniversary,” said Jean Fawcett, a spokesperson for Abercrombie & Kent (A&K).

“We have seen a dramatic increase in people who want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to celebrate an earlier milestone birthday – most often 50,” Fawcett added. “Perhaps because mountain climbing is often used as a metaphor for life, trekking is becoming a popular choice for celebrating milestone events. 

At the uber extreme end of this trend are last month’s winners of the Australian Geographic “Adventurer of the Year” award. John Jacoby, Andrew Maffett, Chris Porter and Jim Bucirdie, used their 50th as an “excuse” to go kayaking around Antarctica’s South Georgia. And what wife can argue with that!

Two years in the planning, they wanted to celebrate their 50th birthday with the adventure of a lifetime and prove that, as John put it: "Old blokes can still do good stuff." But when good weather helped them complete their circumnavigation a few days early, they decided to undertake the famous Shackleton Traverse as well. 

This not only won them a place in history, but also inspires the rest of us ordinary folk to “just do it.”

But it’s not Jacoby’s first encounter with the trend. Five years ago, he received a phone call from mate David Moffatt inviting him to his 50th birthday party. 

“David said ‘the party’s a journey ‘up north,’” said Jacoby. By that he meant a mountain bike ride from Cape Tribulation to the tip of Cape York, then sea kayak paddle across Torres Strait to PNG and then a run of the Kokoda Track. “It was great, just my type of party,” said Jacoby. 

But if that all sounds too blokey or extreme, you might consider a more sedate Wild Weekend with your girlfriends. Sydney mum, Kate Clissold, celebrated her ‘Festival of 50’ with a series of events including climbing Queensland’s Mt Barney and ice climbing in the New Zealand Alps, while Kaylene Kiers is taking her girlfriends on a luxury cruise around Antarctica for her 50th. 

Lisa Marshall, Director of Wild Women On Top says, “It’s really common in our community with over 35 year old women. Kilimanjaro or Everest Base Camp are the favourites. I’m only 38 but I’m already planning my 40th birthday adventure now. Lots of the girls go on wild adventures with us to celebrate turning 40 or 50. It gives them a real training goal and they have an awesome adventure with their friends.”

So, what are you waiting for? Whether its 21, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80, why not go wild. Like John Jacoby said, it’s a great excuse to indulge in a life changing adventure.

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