“Guys, I don’t think we should ever do this again…”
Angelica’s words made me smile. We had reached the top of only our first of three peaks, Ben Nevis. It was 8.30am and the weather conditions couldn’t be worse: 70 mph winds, blistering cold, heavy rain and treacherous terrain. We had all been knocked over by the wind several times but crucially our mountain guide, Bernie, had only fallen once. If he fell twice, he had told me, we would head back. On his second tumble we were at the summit. Too late to back out now.
Down we went – many falling on the way – out of drenched clothes and into our bus. Freeze dried meals and coffees before our next climb at dusk. Scafell Pike.
Angelica’s words rang in my head as darkness fell and the wind rose again, but so did thoughts of all the money we had raised for causes so close to our hearts. So we climbed again, head torches on, walking sticks in hand, pushing ourselves to the brink and headlong into apocalyptic storms, to reach the summit.
Knees and spirits tumbled as we hit the descent, tired, hungry and some in great pain. But we had conquered the second peak, so got back in the bus and by 11.30pm were off to Wales. I knew we would do it.
It was only at 4.00am the next day, at the bottom of Snowdon, with my tank empty, that I wondered if we actually would do it. But on the arrival of dawn and just a little sunlight to lift our spirits we pushed on one more time to reach the top, where at last we got our only mountain top view.
It’s amazing what you can pack into one day. We’d seen three countries, experienced mountain scenery both awe-inspiring and overwhelming, watched the sunrise and darkness descend and all three peaks in … ok, just a little over 24 hours (blame the worst weather conditions ever experienced by Bernie).
The general popularity of our challenge might have lulled us into thinking that we were embarking on a reasonably achievable expedition. Not so. It was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. We all had highs and lows but leant on each other (sometimes literally) and pulled through. And now we can carry the memories with us like tattoos – ones we are proud to have achieved as a team.
What did we learn up those mountains? Much as in life, we saw how fatigue, pain, hunger and even fear can evaporate – it all becomes a process as you lose yourself in the adrenaline of the moment.
More importantly, and especially when you work in our industry, it is so important to step far enough away to encounter a clarity through the fog. A clarity sometimes impossible to find in everyday life.
Thanks to your support we managed to raise over £4,000 for 3 amazing charities. You can view more info and donate here.
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