I wanted to start by thanking everyone who has donated so far, I’m well over half way to my £5000 target! If you haven’t donated yet and would like to, please visit my fundraising page.
We saw in our ’Mountain a Month challenge’ for November with another early Sunday start.
After some debate, my climbing partner Andy and I settled on Skiddaw in Cumbria. Though the peak is lower than our first choice, Scafell Pike, concerns about the weather and Andy’s caution following a family wedding the evening before, swayed our decision. On the doorstep of the lovely north lake town of Keswick, Skiddaw has a well-defined path with no scrambling to do, and at 931m, is the sixth highest peak in England.
We arrived at Keswick and were pleasantly surprised by the weather; it was a little warmer than the forecast with a steady breeze. The walk is steady but steep as you head up towards ‘Little Man’ peak and we were treated to stunning views looking south over Keswick towards the main peaks of the English Lake District and Derwent Water. Following the main path around the contours of ‘Little Man’ we encountered our real first snow and ice. Andy put on his mini spikes and sped off and I struggled to keep up with just my boots and poles – they were fine but just not as quick.
As we hit the 850m mark, the wind picked up and we were enveloped in cloud and mist. We had our first real taste of the elements for the last half mile of our climb, cross winds of 40-50mph and very cold temperatures. It was finally time to test the climbing gear we will rely on at Kilimanjaro’s summit; hats covering ears, buffs to warm our faces, insulation layers, gloves and trousers.
Visibility deteriorated and we declined the peaks kind invitation to dine in favour of losing some height and finding some shelter to enjoy a coffee, sandwich, and Andy’s now famous homemade flapjack.
A few snowballs flew while we decided which route to take back. With snow drifts having covered the route we planned to use and being aware that there had been a full scale mountain rescue on Friday when some climbers became disorientated and ended up very close to the sight of a number of recent avalanches - we’re learning the fine line between what’s appears to be relatively safe and what’s actually downright dangerous. Putting safety first we decided to follow the same route back but detoured in order to climb the summit of ‘Little Man’, which sits at 865m.
We finished early after an uneventful walk down. The great success of this trip was that we encountered conditions close to those we will find on Kilimanjaro.
We are now planning to camp overnight in December or January in sub-zero conditions to test our sleeping bags, mats, etc. This will also give us the opportunity to get some consecutive days walking in before the Kilimanjaro climb in February, which is now rapidly approaching.
All donations will go to the Hendrie family, an incredibly important and worthwhile cause, so please do click here to help me reach my goal.