Sunday, 7 June 2009

Scafell Pike - 2nd peak of the 365challenge: done!

The actual 3 Peaks challenge phase of the 365challenge - as opposed to the virtual version, which I completed on the first day of my 365challenge year - was an add-on element, because I felt that I really needed to do even more to earn my sponsors support. I figured I'd do a peak a month from May to July, in the hope that by timing my climbs to occur at this time of year, conditions would be relatively good and my rusty navigation skills wouldn't need to be tested too far.

If you've read my Snowdon report, then you'll know that things didn't quite go that way for the first climb, with dreadful conditions throughout the day.

So, in the weeks running up to the Scafell Pike climb, with temperatures hitting records for the year, it's fair to say that I was hoping for a better day, one where we - myself and my 365er colleagues and other supporters - might actually enjoy the views from the top of one of the most spectacular mountains in the UK. How could we not?

Well it seems that it was not to be ... and given that Ben Nevis has only 1 day in 10 clear, it's not looking good for the final leg either!

Seriously though, the rest of the group may never trust me again to arrange a hike because yesterday (June 6th) the conditions on Scafell Pike were truly awful: sleet and horizontal rain on top, with snow on the ground. What's going on?

We gathered at Seathwaite at around 9.00 am, with drizzle. Liz came along with her daughter Esme and her friend Cara, but sadly, they found the going quite hard and we agreed after 1 Km of climbing that they would take a shorter route while the other eight of us - Al, Karen, Dave, Lesley, Oli, Fred, Pete and myself - moved on. A

s it turned out, however, Liz proved to have wonderful leadership and motivation skills and she's just emailed me to tell me that all three of them completed the FULL WALK, making it to the top of
Scafell Pike, singing songs and counting steps to keep going ... though, as the conditions worsened towards the top, I think Liz did wonder what on earth she had gotten in to!

But hats off to you Liz, Esme and Cara
, for completing a really tough walk in truly horrible conditions. I really hope we can walk a mountain together another time.

Our route headed up the Corridor Route from Styhead Tarn. The path is well-marked so even as the weather turned, my map-reading wasn't tested too heavily, but I was really pleased to have Al along too when I learned that he examines mountain leadership candidates. We stopped for lunch on the col below Scafell Pike, all climbing into Al's survival tent, which for some proved almost too comfortable, as the climb immediately afterwards up onto the summit of Scafell Pike felt a little tougher.

The top was, in a word, miserable. Horizontal rain and sleet, with snow on the ground in places, and as for the view ... well, there was a brief moment when the cloud cleared enough to allow us to see down to Wast Water, which was spectacular. But it wasn't a place to loiter, so off we headed down to the col below Broad Crag. The plan had been to head over that, but as conditions were poor, and Fred was suffering with hip pain, I decided to cut down to the Corridor Route again. The inital descent here was a little steep, but we managed it quite well, and from there really the rest of the walk was fairly straightforward ... long and cold and wet, but just a case of putting one foot in front of another until we finally came through the welcoming gates at Seathwaite Farm.

It's always good to get down from a mountain after you've been wet, cold and tired, but the sense of achievement on this walk was great for everyone, as we'd all had to cope with tough conditions. We all faced a long drive home, but we headed off, knowing that whatever Ben Nevis chooses to throw at us on July 4th, we're up for it and will conquer our third and highest of the British 3 peaks on the day. And of course, despite its reputation, there is always an outside chance that we could get some nice weather for a change - surely we deserve it by now!

See more photos of the walk by clicking on the photo, below, of me holding my 365challenge t-shirt up to the elements at the summit:

Scafell Pike

Thanks everyone who's been along for this 365challenge with me, it's been great so far, and I'm looking forward to the next one ... see you in Fort William.

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